A few words about Ebola and you

Published by Francesco Ambrogetti on

By Francesco Ambrogetti and Derek Humphries

‘Ebola’ and ‘you’.

These are probably not words you want to think about. Not in such close proximity. Not words any of us want to see so close to each other.

Whether you are on the New York subway, in downtown Madrid, or an urban slum in Liberia, these words are terrifying.

Is that why we aren’t doing enough? Is that why the vast majority of people choose to simply look on in horror, from a safe distance? Or simply look away?

That word ‘you’, please take it seriously.

Last week, the two of us decided to do something about Ebola. Little us. We may well fail. But we’re trying to do something. And we need your help, your compassion, your ideas.

Of course, we realise that some of you are currently sitting at the back of the classroom sniggering, nudging each other and wondering why Franki and Derek are choosing to display their naivety. We don’t care.

We just want to stimulate more action, more ideas, more money, because we can see that the world and its great and its good are not yet doing enough to tackle Ebola. Franki’s blog was picked up by The Agitator . You may have read it. You may have thought it was good. You may have done nothing. And we don’t mean to make you feel bad – we know you are hectically busy. We just want to give you the opportunity to feel good. Because at the moment not enough of us can feel good about what we have done about Ebola.


Are there notable exceptions? Yes of course: Gates, Zuckerberg, Allen and medical folk worldwide volunteering to go to the frontline, and thousands of people texting their micro donations. It’s all good. But collectively we are failing – to the tune of $2-3 billion. World Health Organization estimates a 50-bed facility will cost $900,000 a month; therefore a 100,000-bed operation would cost $1-2 billion a month. Not to mention the costs to research and produce a vaccine or rebuild basic health facilities and economies wiped out by Ebola.

And let’s be frank, if thousands were dying in California, or South-East England, or Denmark, Mexico, Japan, or Australia we’d be all over it. We’d have the best public health response imaginable, and research funding would quadruple overnight.

But this is happening in West Africa. And most people don’t know where places such as Liberia and Sierra Leone are. They just know that these places are, thankfully, far away.

Except it isn’t far away. It’s right here on this little planet we call earth. A planet where people and diseases travel fast. Again and again, two thoughts from the recent International Fundraising Congress enter my head:

From @marceloiniarra: ‘A problem in Africa is no longer simply a problem in Africa.’

From @kuminaidoo: ‘To achieve change we cannot operate within the status quo.’

I probably misquote them slightly but you get the idea.

So, all these words, what are they for? They are to beseech you to join us in our naivety.

This morning in Sierra Leone, a woman died. Her children are lost without her. No words make sense to them. They are beyond scared. They may be next. Even close family may so scared of infection that they are too afraid to hold and comfort these latest orphans.

So, will you help?

In throwing the single-minded marketing rulebook out of the window, we ask you to do not one but two things:

First, give money. You know you’ll feel great when you do this. The two of us are giving to the efforts of scientists and doctors who are crowdfunding to test a vaccine because they have not enough funds (for example https://www.crowdrise.com/CureEbola). But whether you choose to give to MSF or Red Cross or whoever, please just give a gift that is meaningful to you. It will be more than meaningful to those who need help.

Second, give ideas. Our mission here is simple; we are collecting ideas and then sharing those ideas with our contacts across the world who can implement them. If you have any ideas to help raise big money, or hep in other ways, please share them – no matter how crazily unrealistic! We promise to do our utmost to link great ideas with great people who can make things happen. Are you in?


So what happens next?

This initiative may fizzle out into nothing. But Ebola won’t.

So what happens next is up to you. We really do appreciate that you may already be doing an awful lot. If you are, thank you. If you haven’t acted yet, please do. We all know that if you’ve had time to read this blog, then you’ve got time share it, to make a gift, to chip in an idea, and get others to do the same.

Thank you.

Yours in naivety, solidarity, and hope.

Please read more here.


This post is written by both Francesco Ambrogetti and Derek Humphries.

74Derek Humphries (7 blogs on 101fundraising)

Derek Humphries became a fundraiser by accident (didn’t we all?). He spent 14 years with Burnett Associates (nine as MD) before several years of hippydom and consultancy. For the past few years he has been a director at DTV where he writes and produces drtv and films for good causes worldwide. Before any of this, he had a proper job as an artist. You can follow his tweets @derekhumphries or email him.


Francesco Ambrogetti

Francesco is Innovative Finance and Partnership advisor at Capital Development fund of the UN. Before joining the UN in NY, he was the Director of Fundraising and Marketing for UNICEF Italy, leading a $70 million a year revenue programme. He has over 20 years' international fundraising experience with UNICEF, UNAIDS and UNFPA in Geneva, Bangkok, and Panama, and has advised organizations like the World Bank, WWF, MSF, and The Red Cross. He is teaching fundraising at the University of Bologna and authored various articles and books on marketing and fundraising, including "Emotionraising: How to Astonish, Disturb, Seduce and Convince the Brain to Support Good Causes" (Civil Society Press, 2016).


Andrea · October 28, 2014 at 11:09

What touched me most is the idea of not being able to give a hug. Not being able to touch and comfort someone who is suffering, a young child that has lost it’s parents or that is sick himself. That idea of ‘not being able to give a hug’ could be the base for a campaign.

Perhaps to get more media attention one can include ambassadors, for example, lock up a VIP in an Ebola quarantine room and let people donate to get him or her out? He could even give some donors a hug once he/she gets out.

Susanna Spiccia · October 28, 2014 at 14:11

Thank you for writing this. Much needed. Currently a group of kids my organization is working with, are sending interview questions to kids in Sierra Leone to understand how the youth are feeling and have been personally affected. Our Atlanta teens are writing a rap about their perspective, and turning it into a music video to raise money for our partner organization, Sierra Leone International Mission School (medical supplies/clinic upgrade). We are watching these kids who were making jokes about Ebola, understand more of the weight of what is happening to youth who are not much different from them.

Abigail · October 28, 2014 at 15:30

Start a campaign for Ebloa! Take it upon yourself to not only give but to help raise the needed funds! You can start a campaign here https://www.continuetogive.com/home/individuals

francesco · October 29, 2014 at 05:31

Thank you Andrea great idea and nice perspective Susanna. Abigail at the mimenylt we collecting ideas but we maybe start alao some fundraising campaign.

Jenny B. · October 29, 2014 at 13:21

I’m in!

I run an NGO that works in Uganda. While there is no Ebola outbreak there right now, small outbreaks of Ebola frequently occur so this is always on our radar.

I have a few ideas that I’d be happy to share with the team if someone would like to email me at the address below.

Derek · October 31, 2014 at 09:49

A big thank you to all of you who have commented, and those who have contacted me and Franki through other channels.
It is clear that there are more and more initiatives taking place to raise the money to stop the spread of Ebola.
I know Franki is having conversations in relation to major donor activity. Since we wrote the post I’ve been involved in three Ebola TV fundraising campaigns.
While more and more individuals and organisations are becoming involved, and giving, we are not yet sering the very big money that is needed.
Meanwhile, a sense of personal threat and fear is undoubtedly shifting some fundraising messaging from ‘helping people over there’ towards ‘protecting us all’.
Above all, there is more of a sense of urgency, but all this activity risks giving an impression that it is all under control. No time for complacency.
Whatever you are doing, we wish you well.

Ps feel free to contact me directly at Derek.humphries@dtvgroup.co.uk and I will share any of your messages with Franki.

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