Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) is a registered charitable organization, which is an agency of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) with a mandate to tackle social, economic, and cultural elements of development. The Foundation holds an annual fundraising campaign that usually commences in March and culminates in a symbolic walk in May and June in ten cities across Canada.
We conducted a development audit of one of their programs, World Partnership Walk, which is Canada’s largest walk of it’s kind aimed at eradicating global poverty. The audit was meant to identify weaknesses and strengths in its processes and evaluation and make recommendations for improvement.
To conduct this audit, we analyzed marketing collateral (online and print), digital presence, T30-10 tax statements, financial statements, stakeholder engagement strategies, events, metrics, internal reports and conducted interviews on walk day with a total of 13 stakeholders that included c-suite, employees, and volunteers.
After a detailed analysis, we made several recommendations, some of which are as follows:
External Stakeholder Engagement: Image and branding is consistent across channels, however, awareness is low outside the Ismai’li community (a sub-sect of Shia Islam). High participation in this community was attributed to the fact that a significant proportion of volunteers, ambassadors, and attendees within Montreal immigrated from Afghanistan, where the Foundation also conducts its development work. Second, His Highness the Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of the Isma’ili community, making this the primary stakeholder group that the walk engages. External relations and corporate engagement has been weak, with the exception of a few big names such as Scotiabank and KPMG.
Media Relations: Media sponsors in Montreal were less than proportionally represented when compared to cities such as Toronto and Vancouver. We recommended that Aga Khan Foundation Canada more closely supervise media relations as well as train volunteer media and marketing directors in developing relationships with journalists and identify localized human interest stories. Ethnic media were also absent from the mix, which is a significant lapse from several years prior where these relationships had been developed and nurtured. Other factors to consider were involving university and niche media.
Social Media: This was a key weak point. Previously, each walk city had its own Twitter account which worked really well. More recently, a centralized Twitter and Facebook account demonstrated a causal correlation with reduced engagement from Montrealers. AKFC is an innovator and a thought leader in international development, but this isn’t reflected in it’s online presence because it did not engage in online conversations beyond it’s own programs.
Other recommendations pertained to a stronger, more robust fundraising strategy and corporate engagement, direct donors relations, accurate fundraising metrics, and staffing concerns.
AKFC has a keen sense of the direction it needs to take. Some of our recommendations are already in the works, while others will take time due to the long-term, structural shift they require.