NOLA’s Mama Maji Leverages Online Relationships to Fight Global Water Crisis

October 2nd, 2015 by Search Influence Alumni


Based in New Orleans, Mama Maji is a nonprofit organization that works globally to connect and empower women to address the global water crisis. Every day, women lose 152 million hours collecting the water necessary to drink, cook, clean, and bathe. In spite of the need for clean water access in villages, water projects are notoriously prone to failure. Pumps need maintenance, and even well-funded projects encounter unforeseen difficulties or fail to take local preferences into account. Mama Maji works to help with health training and water access abroad, and the organization also hosts seminars in New Orleans.


Work Abroad and at Home

The Chiga Community Water and Sanitation Project started with a deep well to support food production for a rescue center in Chiga, a community near Kisumu in Kenya. The rescue center serves as a temporary home for at-risk children until permanent homes can be found. Mama Maji has helped to expand the project’s impact by building pipelines and kiosks in nearby communities. Training community members in health, water, and sanitation helps to maximize the impact of clean water access. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, Mama Maji facilitates professional development seminars for women.

Getting Online

Active since 2012, Mama Maji now has a presence across several social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. Founding Director Sydney Gray explains that Instagram has been useful as a convenient place to upload photos that will then appear on other social media like their Facebook and Twitter pages. Twitter has been valuable during campaign periods like World Water Week, when tweets have allowed the relatively small nonprofit to engage in international dialogues.

Inspirational People

With over 500 likes, Mama Maji’s Facebook page features project updates, fundraisers, and inspirational success stories. Sarah, a resident in Obino village in Kenya, is one of those stories. She was one of thirty volunteer women from 14 villages who trained with Mama Maji in April, learning the basics of water, health, and sanitation. In the following three months, not only did Sarah train over 300 people, but she also managed to prevent a cholera outbreak before it started. She recognized the symptoms while volunteering at a local health fair and mobilized the Kenyan Department of Public Health. The government rushed ambulances to the village for the four people who were already sick and screened the rest of the village.

Getting Noticed

“People connect to people, not organizations,” explained Sydney, who has found that people relate to personal stories more than they relate to statistics. Getting people to engage with the content by liking, commenting, and sharing is great, but the ultimate goal is getting donations. Emails, quarterly newsletters, and videos seem to have the biggest impact on donations, but Mama Maji has also developed a detailed guide to crowdfunding.

The Catalyst 500 Challenge

The challenge takes Catalysts who have pledged to raise $500 toward the Chiga Community Water and Sanitation Project, and it shows those pledges how to use their social media and email contacts to crowdfund on a three-week schedule. By finding about 10 contacts who will relay the message to their own networks and contacts, a Catalyst’s message is greatly amplified. Expanding this same concept and preparing for a month and a half, one volunteer was able to raise $4,000.


The Catalyst 500 Challenge, Mama Maji’s crowdfunding program, uses these week-by-week guides for those interested in raising funds. For more information, contact Sydney Gray and the Mama Maji team to learn more about the program. To help, connect with Mama Maji on social media to help spread their message.