ConnectAID, the International Solidarity Network, is the world’s first combined charitable giving platform and social impact network dedicated to the SDGs. Its first World Summit of Social Media Influencers for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) happens this upcoming weekend. About a third of the planet’s population uses social media. Therefore ConnectAid believes the only way to make the world a better place is to engage with as many of these individual users as possible. FashionUnited spoke with founder Gaëlle Mogli about the goals of the upcoming conference.
What motivated you to found ConnectAID, the International Solidarity Network?
Having worked for 18 years in the humanitarian sector, including as spokesperson for several United Nations organizations, I came to realize that a catalyst for solidarity between people, nonprofits and corporates was missing. With the COVID-19 crisis, funding for charities has become increasingly scarce and there are millions of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) facing enormous competition or skepticism from donors unsure where to donate, where their money goes or whether humanitarian actions are as effective as promised. Nonprofits must simultaneously be experts in communication and in fundraising, skillsets which require time and money, and ultimately reduce the availability of funds which are needed elsewhere.
This is where ConnectAid steps in?
ConnectAID allows individuals, international nonprofits and corporates to become agents of change. 100% of the donations go directly to causes the donor chooses. Members who join the platform find a catalogue of vetted sustainable projects, while nonprofits gain access to the tools they need to successfully communicate and finance their actions.
Have some industries demonstrated more involvement with the summit than others?
Our goal is to reinvent solidarity by breaking silos and begin taking meaningful action online for social good. We have a diverse range of speakers including Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Ulrika Modeer, Assistant Secretary General of United Nations Development Program, Adam Rogers, Author of Taking Action Online, business leader Debra Ruh, Felix Dodds, author of numerous books on the subject of sustainable development, academics from Harvard and other universities, as well as representatives from the private sector and NGOs.
How can the fashion industry which is one of the largest polluting industries, and one in which influencers can be extremely high profile, get involved?
ConnectAID has so far been self-funding. This is one of the reasons why we are offering attendees the choice to purchase a ticket if they can. It is the very first annual summit of influencers taking action online for social good, and we are looking for sponsors and investors, including from the fashion industry, to bring onboard our humanitarian and environmental mission. Our aim is to develop real change and international solidarity between organizations, foundations, associations but also between individuals, creating a new normal. After three years of intense effort, we have set the ground for enormous potential for change. We are now calling for the private sector to join us in our effort so that we can take it even further.
Did the ubiquity of online events during the pandemic inspire the idea of a summit of social media influencers?
Nonprofits had to reinvent themselves and find other ways to communicate and raise funds. Most live events have been cancelled, and the needs have never been greater for vulnerable populations. According to UN data, the crisis could push more than half a billion into poverty, whereas before Covid-19, the worldwide poverty rate had not been increasing for decades. Using online tools became the norm, and we are convinced that only a collective approach can create a new normal where meaning and purpose are at the forefront of world discussion, to really work in partnership to reduce poverty, protect our planet and reach all the other sustainable goals set by the international community.
In real terms what do you hope will be achieved from the event?
ConnectAID positions itself as the missing agent between nonprofits and an individual’s desire to impact change so on the day people from all around the world can start engaging with effective and lasting results, and we can all do it from home, one click at a time. With high level speakers from various backgrounds, and with a total reach of over 2 million followers, our ambition is to revolutionize the world of international solidarity at a time when it is more needed than ever.
The World Summit of Social Media Influencers for the Sustainable Development Goals takes place at 8am EST on June 19th, and requires registration on ConnectAid’s website. Photos provided by ConnectAid Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry