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How Simon Ogwang Got Back to What He Loves

When this NGO founder sent out a marketing S.O.S., Mailchimp partner Alessandra Farabegoli answered with a lifeline.

In April 2020, Uganda-based not-for-profit Centre For Adolescent Reproductive Health (CEFARH) found its future suddenly in jeopardy. Lisa Mora, CEFARH’s chief fundraiser, had passed away unexpectedly from COVID-19, leaving her colleagues mourning her loss, but also in a precarious position.

“Lisa was the driving force behind our funding: all the money we had received so far was mobilized by her,” says Simon Ogwang, CEFARH’s founder. “When she died, I had no idea of where to start: we had no money in our bank account and no database of contacts.”

Lisa had worked tirelessly to raise funds in support of CEFARH’s mandate: to help young Ugandans affected by HIV/AIDS, reduce teenage pregnancy, and decrease child marriage—all of which had seen dramatic increases during Uganda's recent 24-year-long war. Now, Simon found himself in desperate need of fundraising and marketing help. “I couldn’t let the foundation die, too many people were counting on me, but we had no funds,” says Simon. On the brink of giving up hope, Simon received a lifeline: an email from Mailchimp partner Alessandra Farabegoli that changed everything.

How did you and Alessandra connect?

Simon: CEFARH was at a dying point. We had begun laying off staff; it was a grim time. I had reached out to a number of Mailchimp partners in the expert’s directory, but we had no funds, so, understandably, we received many nos. The day I got an email from Alessandra saying she’d like to take us on pro bono, I was totally shocked. I thought I was dreaming.

Alessandra, why did you decide to help Simon?

Alessandra: I am the co-founder of Freelancecamp, a networking and training community for freelancers. Each year, we pick an organization to help. When I heard about CEFARH through the Mailchimp community, I knew we had to step in. Along with 6 other Italian freelancers, we worked together to help CEFARH rebuild.

Simon: We’ve given these volunteers the nickname “The Super 7” because the work they’ve done has been far greater than anything I could have ever imagined. Thanks to Alessandra and the other freelancers, our visibility has increased exponentially. I never fathomed we would have the reach we now do!

Alessandra and the Super 7 have given us hope. Now, I have more time to work on growing CEFARH.

Simon Ogwang, CEFARH, founder

Can you tell us a bit about the work Alessandra and the other volunteers did for CEFARH?

Simon: Over the course of 4 months, they created a new logo for us, redesigned our website, Instagram and Facebook, and optimized our Mailchimp account. We didn’t really do any email marketing previously. To be honest, I didn’t even really know what it was before last year.

Wow, that’s a ton of work!

Alessandra: It was, but the results were more than worth the effort. CEFARH has seen a huge rise of traffic coming from SEO, social media, direct visits, from all over the world. They went from a few dozen visits per month in January to 10,000 visits in April, and over that same period, their Facebook page monthly reach increased from around 2,000 to more than 40,000 views.

That’s truly phenomenal. Were there any challenges to achieving what you did?

Alessandra: We had designed a great website that told CEFARH’s story and a welcome series that’s doing very well (it’s a 4-email series that has a 50% open rate all the way to the final message)—but all that is useless if people from around the world cannot donate to the cause. Setting CEFARH up to receive donations presented many difficulties for us (many platforms for this don’t work in Uganda). Getting this donation landing page working was truly a feat!

What’s next for CEFARH?

Simon: Alessandra and the Super 7 have given us hope. Now, I have more time to work on growing CEFARH. Right now, we work in 4 northern Uganda districts (Gulu, Lira, Alebtong, and Kole). We’re working to expand our services across the whole country and East Africa. Soon, we will hopefully be able to reach millions of women, youth and children.

Need help with your marketing? Explore our Mailchimp experts directory to connect with Alessandra and other marketing professionals, so you can get back to what you love.

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