Who would have thought a few years ago that Instagram influencing was going to be a full-time job one day? Let alone one that has the potential to create a positive impact on society and change people’s lives? Seeing how the Instagram influencer community has come to the aid of people affected by the floods has left no doubt about that.
While most influencers are doing their part to spread awareness and urge their followers to donate, Alizah Raza of ThisandThat.pk has gone above and beyond the call of their duty and raised over Rs10 million through her donation drive to support vulnerable communities affected by the floods.
Raza, an art dealer and Instagram influencer who hails from Lahore, was thinking of ways to use her platform to raise funds when she was approached by Rakhshanda Atwar, the esteemed artist, who donated multiple works for the cause. Raza then reached out to other artists who were quick to donate and help promote the drive.
“I was lucky to have artists like Mughees Riaz, Sonia Chundrigar and Amra Khan come on board. Popular artists including Hussain Jamil and Anushka Rustomji also significantly contributed as well as many emerging artists. Special mention to the Kinnaird Fine Arts Department for joining forces and offering many of their current students works to the cause,” she told Images.
The art donation drive had limited edition prints starting at Rs6,000 and original artworks going as high as Rs250,000, which were originally worth Rs450,000 but discounted to motivate people to buy and donate to the cause.
Raza mentioned that she had set an initial target of Rs1 million but never expected to have crossed the Rs10 million mark in less than a week. When the art donation drive did well, Raza thought why not involve her followers from Thisandthat.pk and get a community of 31,000 members to donate Rs1,000 each and raise a significant amount for the affectees?
Her drive has been successful because it’s hassle-free and transparent. “I tried to make the process as hassle-free with multiple modes of payment, and by shortlisting donor organisations I can personally vouch for. Donations didn’t necessarily have to be sent to me — people could donate to the shortlisted organisations and share the receipt with me,” she explained, talking about the transparency of the drive.
When asked how she thought of the follower donation drive, Raza said that a community as large as 31,000 people surely has the power to make an impact and accomplish great things together. “I just wanted to mobilise the community and welcome people to donate whatever they feel comfortable donating,” she said.
According to her, in the era of social and digital media, influencers have a huge responsibility to use their power for good work and positive engagement. “At least, I always hold myself accountable for using ThisAndThat.pk to advocate and promote what I believe is the ‘right’ thing. Having a public platform, I realise the power of influence and think it’s integral for all ‘influencers’ like myself to step up and speak up and inform, guide, and advise their followers in the best possible way,” she said.
“It’s not always easy and is a huge responsibility but it’s extremely rewarding. I am extremely happy with the response of my platform’s following and their generous effort (and those of the volunteers and organisations) restores my faith in humanity and in Pakistan.”
Her campaign is still ongoing but she has already raised Rs13 million in total and is dedicated to ensuring this amount reaches the most reliable organisations working on the ground. For this reason, she has chosen four organisations — Al Khidmat, Mama Baby Fund, Bali Memorial and Sab Saath.
“Though I am also in touch with many individuals and families who are raising funds, I stuck to vetted, registered organisations to ensure the most transparency,” added Raza.
While Raza may be the first Instagram influencer to have hosted a follower donation drive, there are many artists who are donating their works for flood relief efforts across Pakistan. It is this social responsibility and effort of social influencers and people across the country that gives us hope in these testing times to persevere and believe that there will be better days ahead! Let’s keep the efforts ongoing!