Talia Women’s Network
Empowering Zimbabwe’s women and girls
Talia Women’s Network is on a mission to empower young women and girls – to enable them to
realise their full potential and achieve greatness. A small but mighty charity based in
Zimbabwe, Talia Women’s Network is vital to the surrounding communities with more than
60% of their work based in rural and hard to reach areas. Built on three pillars, their services
bring education and leadership development, reproductive health and rights, and economic
empowerment and livelihoods to women and girls.
The Challenge of the pandemic
Before the COVID-19 pandemic Talia Women’s Network’s income was steady and stable, with two major donors supporting the charity. “It seemed like our growth trajectory was on the increase, and we were feeling really positive about what the future held in store for us” remembers Saliwe Mutetwa-Zakariya, Talia Women’s Network’s Director. But when the pandemic hit in 2020 “everything just came crashing down” and they found themselves struggling to raise the necessary funds needed to continue their work.
Joining Lightful’s BRIDGE programme
Finding new sources of funds to improve their sustainability was one of the driving factors for Talia Women’s Network to join Lightful’s Building Resilience In Digital Growth and Engagement (BRIDGE) programme. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and using the Global Giving platform, the 12 month BRIDGE focussed on teaching digital tools and skills to deal with the unprecedented disruption caused by the pandemic. Talia Women’s Network joined a cohort of 200 nonprofits, with little or no experience of using digital as a tool for fundraising. What they had was determination to learn how to expand their audience and diversify their income to become a more sustainable and resilient organisation.
Learning new digital skills
Fundraising for projects had been a challenge for Talia Women’s Network, particularly for those which were based in rural communities. Through BRIDGE, the team created a digital strategy and successfully learned ways of tracking, measuring and boosting digital engagement, which has helped to raise awareness of new donors. “The BRIDGE programme really gave us the formal training on social media, previously we just used to post as-and-when, and we didn’t even analyse the engagement”.
Raising income through digital fundraising
Talia Women’s Network began to use digital platforms as a fundraising tool for the first time and successfully raised over $3,000 through the Global Giving platform. This unrestricted funding provided a much needed cushion at a time when donors were diverting their funds because of the pandemic, and proposals were being held-up. Mutetwa-Zakariya reflects that BRIDGE has “opened up the whole world” in terms of Talia Women’s Network’s audience and fundraising opportunities.
Long-term impacts of BRIDGE
Two years after taking part in BRIDGE, Talia Women’s Network has weaved digital into everyone’s role, embracing it as a whole team and even expanding to support their beneficiaries with digital literacy skills. They’re launching several campaigns a year – their latest #LittleByLittle campaign had more than 4,000 donors – and they are keen to expand into recruiting ambassadors for 2022.Talia Women’s Network now has three new institutional donors which have helped to advance three impactful new projects for women and girls in Zimbabwe. These focus on supporting women with business management and financial literacy training to establish income generating ventures. As well as advancing their work in menstrual health and hygiene through working with schools in rural communities.
We asked them what they’d say to an organisation who was considering joining BRIDGE:
“Really, just go for it! The BRIDGE programme helped us in terms of building our capacity to embrace digital platforms and digital technology. We got access to capacity building materials which were very priceless. So my word of advice to organisations is that, this really is such a powerful tool which I would encourage them to jump on ship with”
Saliwe Mutetwa-Zakariya, Director of Talia Women’s Network.