By Ryan Hyland
Suzette Ramdanie-Linton was almost ready to give up on a clean water project that her Rotary club had initiated in St. James, Jamaica, last year, because the funding simply wasn’t there.
She and fellow members of the Rotary Club of Montego Bay Sunrise in Jamaica had conducted a community assessment in 2015 and found that 11 schools and a children’s home in rural St. James Parish desperately needed improved bathroom facilities. The schools and children’s home were in very poor communities that lacked basic infrastructure. All the schools lacked drinking water and indoor bathrooms. Some schools were using pit latrines.
The club contributed nearly $4,000 to get a project started. But that sum was far from enough to address the need, says Ramdanie-Linton, who was club president in 2014-15. “We needed to find partners to complete the project. Unfortunately, we weren’t finding the funding fast enough. I was a little frustrated at the lack of progress we were making,” she says.
The District 7020 governor at the time, Paul Brown, encouraged her to promote the project on Rotary’s crowdsourcing platform, Rotary Ideas (ideas.rotary.org). Two weeks after she posted a project outline and photos on the platform, she received an email from Naude Dreyer, a member of the Rotary Club of Central Cayman Islands. Dreyer was looking to fund water projects in Jamaica. “It was a perfect find for us,” he says. Rotary Ideas is a great way to fundraise and find partners.
The Central Cayman Islands club ended up being the biggest donor, contributing $8,000 toward a $40,000 global grant from The Rotary Foundation, Ramdanie-Linton says. “Their generosity and partnership pushed the project forward.”
Rotary Ideas helps clubs find volunteers, partnerships, and in-kind donations, as well as funding. More than 1,220 projects have been posted on the platform since it launched in August 2013. And, unlike other crowdfunding sites, Rotary Ideas emphasizes partnerships. The two clubs already are collaborating on another project – to provide dictionaries to third-graders in St. James.
“A lot has come out of a simple post, and the platform was really easy to use,” Ramdanie-Linton says. “I think any club should give Rotary Ideas a chance.”