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Closing the Maanch Coronavirus Relief Fund: Lessons learnt on tech, due diligence, and collective giving

By Emma Guitera  |  
May 26, 2021  |  
5 minutes read

An immediate response in the face of crisis

In March 2020 the WHO officially declared the coronavirus a global pandemic. Uniquely placed to respond to Covid-induced challenges, we at Maanch immediately started work on a way to alleviate some of the suffering that ensued. The most obvious solution was to try and get more funding to the organisations and people that really needed it. In response, Maanch set up its first themed collective giving fund: the Maanch Coronavirus Relief Fund (MCRF). Philanthropy Impact, a UK based philanthropic platform, donated to help develop a powerful dashboard, built to understand how best to strategically give. A fund – with discrete criteria for redistribution – was set up to reallocate money in the most effective way possible. We cut all additional fees we would usually take on the platform. And over 400 charities submitted projects from across the world to describe the impact they were making. Through a unique heatmap on the Maanch Coronavirus dashboard, we could see which projects were funded, what impact they were having and how they wanted to continue helping the communities they were in. These were to represent the repartition of funding throughout the UK and the world and help everyday philanthropists with how to reallocate their resources and create an interactive aggregation of pandemic needs.

Developing due diligence that reflects our Impact processes

With a click of a button, charities that were motivated to receive funding through Maanch created projects that are still hosted on the platform. These were to be qualified to receive direct funding through the MCRF. Even now that the fund has been closed, you can still visit the projects submitted through the M GIVE section and donate to many diverse projects here. All our non-profit partners on Maanch go through an initial financial and registration check thanks to our smart APIs, and then through a manual project by project advisory and due diligence system. Only after these steps do they appear on our open platform. To be further eligible for MCRF funding, coronavirus relief projects were then filtered through a point system. This was based on the initial disclosed criteria for the fund; sorting immediate, medium-term, and long-term impact that they were predicted to have, the need intensity metric in the country they were operating and the number of SDGs the charities touched on. Principles of effective giving such as level of neglect, effectiveness, and traction, which are embedded in our culture were also widely considered. Through a careful selection process, our charity partner EmbraceAbility was selected to receive this funding.

What could we have done better?

Let’s face it, as an early-stage start-up, we still have much room for growth. We feel it is important to be transparent in sharing and reflecting on what we could have done better, and what we as an organisation have learned from the experience. As we adapted on the cuff, it was difficult to give visibility to all our stakeholders, and many charities were disappointed not to receive funding they so desperately needed straightaway. There was also the matter of knowing what the right levels of due diligence were for projects that needed such immediate relief. Maanch prides itself in being a rigorous giving platform. But the flipside of this is that our platform was sometimes too heavy in terms of disclosure, and not fast enough in giving turn-arounds for some of our charities. In some cases, we were therefore unable to turn around as fast as we had hoped. This was further complexified by the many geographies we were working with as we were used to only dealing with UK registered charities. It is also safe to say that the amount raised was not as expected as most of our funders come to our platform organically.

What we hope to do next…

One thing is for sure, in a world that has been so shaken by the coronavirus crisis, we’re going to need the power of community and collective giving more than ever. Maanch’s vision is to unify the philanthropy ecosystem and enable the most strategic reallocation of resources towards the SDGs. In order to do so, we hope to leverage the technology and processes put in place for the MCRF and expand them to other topic-specific projects and community groups.

The pandemic has taught us the power- and necessity- of working together. But COVID-19 is far from over. The most obvious example of this is India, where there is an ongoing emergency situation. We at Maanch are currently running a collective giving exercise for the situation in India. Please reach out to us if you are a charity working towards COVID relief in India, or are an individual or organisation from around the world wanting to contribute to such causes.

Give to COVID relief charities here.

Blog by Maanch team member Emma Guitera.

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