AHIBS Action Research – From Local to International Stage

Prepared by: AP. Dr. Rossilah Jamil

“AHIBS MBA Action Research Framework has provided a complete learning experience that seeks a noble practical solution to real problems”.  This is the remark shared by one of our MBA students, Pratheep Bobi, a final semester student who has recently graduated.

For his action research project, Pratheep has selected the Pertubuhan Kebajikan Anak-Anak Yatim Damo Kluang (Damo Children’s Home / PKAYDK), a small-scale orphanage home that looks after the welfare of underprivileged children. Although it has been around for 15 years, PKAYDK, like many NGOs, struggles to maintain a steady flow of funds for its operations.

Through the action research platform, AHIBS managed to match this external need with internal experts (i.e., our students). Our framework requires students to engage with chosen organizations to determine their needs, gather data, implement and measure relevant interventions to address their problems.

Pratheep found that PKAYDK had engaged in several fundraising activities but they had been less fruitful and unable to garner enough attention due to lack of social media visibility. Charity bodies throughout the world increasingly practice content marketing in communicating their philanthropic messages and fundraisings. Social media content can be used to create the impressions of transparency and accountability of the organization to enhance public/donors’ loyalty. 

Using knowledge gained in the MBA program, Pratheep assisted the home in designing its digital marketing strategy that involved enhancing the operations of its social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Whatsapp), producing relevant contents (videos, online brochures, online sessions, etc.), and maintaining a positive engagement with the public / potential donors. After three months, the intervention has so far improved PKAYDK’s online visibility across Malaysia. Based on a survey conducted, the number of people who have heard about PKAYDK has increased more than 4 times compared to before the intervention. Its targeted social media content has also reached more people and funds. Pratheep is trying to work with potential parties to secure a sustainable supply of necessities to support the home where possible. Partheep is continuing to assist the home to manage its social media platforms while identifying possibilities of training some of the kids for their long-term sustainability.

Mr. Dhamodran, founder of Damo Children’s Home praised the initiative. “We have limited resources at this home. When Pratheep contacted us with his plan, we were more than happy to participate”, he said. He found that the digital marketing content has become a great help for him to communicate about his home and its activities to many other potential donors. He was particularly impressed with AHIBS’s intention and its students’ capability in coming forward to help organizations such as PKAYDK through their action research projects.

Pratheep has brought this project further at the international level. It was recently presented at the NGO Research Day 2021 in March organized by the University of Sussex, UK. The online conference featured projects around the world that discuss how technology shapes the modern perceptions of the NGO sector, its performance, governance and accountability, and identities.  The audience applauded this effort and Pratheep is now exploring possibilities of having this research published for wider recognition and appreciation.

Congratulations to Pratheep and his supervisor, Dr. Shathees Baskaran, for taking the action research project further to fully leverage its benefits.