FRIENDS OF NIGERIA
2018 Annual Report
Friends of Nigeria continues to implement its Purpose, Mission, and Goals:
To be the Peace Corps Nigeria alumni association.
To promote a sense of community among Nigeria Peace Corps alumni and other friends of Nigeria, to support the interests of the Nigerian people, and to educate the public about Nigeria.
· Foster communication among our members through tools such as a newsletter and websites.
· Promote the creation of publicly accessible archives of historic photos, recordings, memorabilia and documents.
· Sponsor and promote reunions of FON members.
· Fund projects that have as their aim to make a positive impact on the lives of Nigerians.
· Promote a better understanding of Nigeria.
· The highlight of the year was the Friends of Nigeria meeting held in conjunction with the NPCA Peace Corps Connect meeting in Water Gap, PA, in August. 20-25 members attended. Attendance was low because of the inaccessibility of the site. The theme of the meeting was “Issues Affecting Nigeria Today”. The full meeting heard talks by Professor Gloria Chuku, Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo, Dr Oliver Anyabolu, and our own Alan Frishman. After a presentation of the film, Jesus Christ Airlines, an interesting discussion was had regarding personal experiences in Nigeria, including odd encounters experienced by black Americans.
· Under the editorships of Willard J. (Jim) Clark and Peter Hansen four issues of the Friends of Nigeria Newsletter were published during 2017 with a total of 84 pages. Printed newsletters were mailed to an average of 1,011 recipients, with a low of 975 and a high of 1031. In addition email announcements were sent to an average of 356 members who have opted to download the full-color pdf version of the newsletter from our website. The newsletter includes feature articles, guest columns, opinion pieces, news from Nigeria, book reviews, letters to the editor, member updates, and reports regarding the projects we are supporting financially. We have a drive underway to maximize the number of electronic subscriptions, as printing and mailing the newsletter are our largest expense, but so far only 26% of our members have subscribed electronically.
· FON’s web presence consists of:
• A website <friendsofnigeria.org> with an RPCV/staff directory (as well as lists of “lost” and deceased RPCVs), announcements, a newsletter archive (searchable pdf versions of all FON newsletters are available), etc.
• Our wiki <www.wikifon.org> includes the original training group directories (pdf files), photos, stories, and group histories – organized by Chris Collman and Greg Jones.
· Friends of Nigeria migrated to a new interactive website using Wild Apricot technology in 2015. During 2016-18 the website usage has evolved. Online membership renewals, online donations, online event signups, and online discussion groups were anticipated to encourage good user participation. Membership renewals and online donations occurred in good numbers, but the majority continues to come in via snail mail to the treasurer. Online event signups were more popular, but there were still those who sent their event reservation and fee to the event treasurer, who then entered registrant information into the website. After 3 years of a fairly active online discussion group (the Member Only Forum), there are still only 32 people subscribed to the forum. We intend to experiment with Facebook or other social media to supplement that feature, but since most of us are too old to have caught the social media wave, it is taking some time. Unfortunately, a number of our members do not have online access or even email, so an exclusive electronic presence will not work for our membership
· During fiscal year 2017-18 Friends of Nigeria embarked on a new program to promote Maternal Health and reduce Fistula in Nigeria. As a result we raised $35,003.82 in contributions, by far a new record. We donated $43,250 to seven organizations working in West Africa: EngenderHealth, DOVENET, The African Community Health Initiative, the American University of Nigeria Foundation Feed and Read Program, the Fantsuam Foundation, Women Make Movies, and Open Doors for Special Learners. The difference between the amount donated and the donations raised consists of a prior year surplus and annual dues that are not required to support our ongoing expenses.
· FON’s board of directors conducts most of its business by e-mail, but it met via conference call on four occasions. This year we participated in the NPCA Zoom Conference subscription, which allows Zoom conferences of greater than 40 minutes. Thank you NPCA as we never had to restart a meeting because we ran out of time.
· A similarly useful feature would be for the NPCA to subscribe to Lexis/Nexis to help groups find lost members. We have data on over 175 members with whom we have lost touch. We have tried other (cheaper) means to obtain up-to-date member information, but no other service has proven to be reliable.