Interviews

Conversation with Deika Morrison, the founder of Do Good Jamaica.

Written by Xavier Murphy

This week we interview Deika Morrison, the founder of the online information portal Do Good Jamaica. The website is a clearing house for projects by civil society organizations in Jamaica. It provides an opportunity for organizations to collaborate and individuals to verify NGO’s.  Here is our conversation with Deika.

1. What is Do Good Jamaica?
Do Good Jamaica is an online information portal for an about civil society organizations in Jamaica.  The objective of Do Good Jamaica is to celebrate and encourage activity by civil society organizations.  As a vehicle for sharing information among organizations and between the organizations and their stakeholders, Do Good Jamaica is designed to be a central hub for comprehensive information for and about the organizations, and especially highlighting the good work that they do.
 dogoodjamaica.org features:
•    a searchable database of civil society organizations, as well as the relevant regulatory, planning and development entities
•    the latest news about the good work of these organizations with an information widget referencing the relevant organization database entry
•    completed projects conveniently displayed on an interactive map
•    vetted potential projects seeking funding
•    resources such as links and documents for civil society organizations to strengthen their operations
•    a calendar to show opportunities for supporting events and volunteering for projects
•    a dedicated page for photos of events – projects, fundraisers, meetings, conferences etc.
•    a dedicated page for civil society organizations to live stream their events
•    social media tools
It has been created for three main groups of users – the organizations, the donors and the general public.
•    The organization – whether in Jamaica or in the Diaspora who assist Jamaica – are seeking more visibility and support for their projects and events.  With the news, database, information widget, photos, live stream, event calendar, projects and interactive map, organizations have multiple mechanisms to show the public, donors and each other what they have done and what they would like to do.  We are hopeful that this will encourage volunteerism, philanthropy and collaboration.  Also, there are resources for organizations to assist them with sustainability.
•    Donors are always looking for more information about organizations and good projects to support.  With the news, database, information widget, photos, live stream, event calendar, projects and interactive map, there are ample opportunities for donors to find out about organizations objectives, as well as completed and proposed projects
•    The general public is often looking for good projects to support, opportunities to volunteer and to attend fundraisers for worthy causes. With the news, database, information widget, photos, live stream, event calendar, projects and interactive map, there are many avenues to find something to become involved in.  There is the ability to volunteer for events through the site

 
2.    Tell us about the moment you came up with the idea come up with the idea for Do Good Jamaica? Was it a specific incident where you saw the need to help someone?

Because I had been involved in NGOs for many years, I knew they faced several challenged and Do Good Jamaica is a response to expressed needs and challenges facing the civil society sector and the three groups mentioned – organizations, donors and the general public.  The inspiration to create the website came from the fact that more than 150 organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals worked together to break a Guinness World Record for charity.  In May 2010, I led an effort that result in the Guinness World Record For The Most Books Donated to Charity in Seven Days.  The previous record was 242,624 books.  Our record (now held by the Rotary Clubs of Jamaica) is 657,061 books.  We smashed it – together – and I thought we could do more good work like that together.  So I wanted to create a virtual home for organizations to garner support from donors and the public and find out about each other to work together all the time.
   
3.    How can an individual use the Do Good Jamaica website? How would an NGO use the website?
As an individual, the most significant benefits are the information provided – easy to use and easy to search as well as the ability to volunteer right there for a project or an event.  Information is available about organizations in the searchable database – contact information, description, services, benefits, eligibity, process for registration etc.  If you are looking for help, one of these organizations should be able to help you.  If you are just curious, we have news and the information widget which explains the organizations, an interactive map with previously completed projects by organizations, a live stream channel to watch organization events, photos from events and projects, proposed projects and events to attend and volunteer. Of course, with social media, every page can be shared in multiple mediums.
An NGO has many opportunities to promote its work (database entry, interactive map, live stream events, event calendar, news, photos, projects completed and proposed) to seek support from the public and the donors.  NGOs can also search for information to seek assistance from other organizations or seek potential partners in similar fields to collaborate.  NGOs can also access resources that may be useful to their operations.  Projects seeking support must be vetted prior to posting.  To get started, a NGO must submit a completed Information Request Form to be included in the database.
 
4.    What has been the most successful project that Do Good Jamaica has helped to facilitate?
Do Good Jamaica was launched on June 16th 2011.  We have been just delighted at the response and so in general, the site’s ability to share information has been very well received – comments from readers, as well as the number and variety of submissions.  It is still early to comment on the projects themselves, but in terms of meeting its major objective as an information portal, we are satisfied that it is doing that.

5.    What project currently listed on the site would you encourage other to support?
Once a project is listed on the site, I would encourage anyone to support it.  At present, there is only one.  We should have a few more up in a few weeks.

6.    How do you vet the projects listed on the site?
At present, the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica – a founding sponsor – provides the vetted projects.  The EFJ has 18 years of experience as they evaluate projects every year for funding.  We will soon release guidelines for submitting projects to be vetted.
 
7.    How can members of the Jamaican diaspora get involved?
First, we would love to hear about all the organizations in the Diaspora that are doing good with Jamaican organizations.  They are welcome to complete the Information Request Form and become listed in the database.  They are also welcome to provide news, events, photos, projects for the interactive map (completed projects) and proposed projects and use the live stream facility.

Second, we appreciate all help to spread the word about the site www.dogoodjamaica.org and our links www.facebook.com/dogoodjamaica and www.twitter.com/dogoodjamaica. 

See 10 for the third way 

Oh – one more thing for the Diaspora – the beauty of a website is that it is available 24/7. We know that the Diaspora is very interested in what is happening here and we wanted to be a place to find information about all the organizations that are doing good.

8.    What has been the greatest challenge of Do Good Jamaica?
Do Good Jamaica has been very easy to set up.  We had a very clear mission of what we wanted to achieve.  Unique Media Design did an excellent job creating a website focusing on making it as user friendly as possible.  The founding sponsors have been incredibly supportive – Spanish Court Hotel funded the project to get it off the ground, the database of organizations was created by USAID who allowed us to make it a searchable online database (previously it was a print directory), Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI) provided the interactive map, Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) provided ongoing advice about what these organizations needed and provides vetted projects and monitoring support, the Gleaner Co. Ltd. provides media support and sponsored the information widget on the front page, Kaizen Interactive provides graphic and social media support, and my company Mdk Advisory and Consulting led the effort with conceptualization, organization etc. 

9.    Are you personally involved in any of the projects listed on the site?
I am a member of a number of the organizations listed but not involved in any of the projects listed.

10.    Any big plans for Do Good Jamaica in the making?
Yes, what you see now is Phase I.  Phase II involves allowing the organizations to communicate with each other on the site.  That is underway.  Phase II is also exploring facilitating online donations to projects directly in a model similar to DonorsChoose.org.  The COO of DonorsChoose.org, Cesar Bocanegra, spoke at the launch and is a project advisor.  That model is very successful at facilitating citizen philanthropy in a transparent and effective manner.  This is something we are working on to further encourage involvement of the public and especially the Diaspora.

Any final thoughts?
Just want to express my sincere appreciation to the media (like you) who play a pivotal role in sharing this information that this site and its resources exist for the benefit of the organizations, donors, general public and of course, those who benefit from all their efforts. 

About the author

Xavier Murphy