Wed, November 15 2006

Guest star of Getting to the Point: Beth Kanter

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Below is the first in an occasional series of guest-star blogs from smart people with something interesting to say.  Beth is very clued in to all things technology and oft-cited on this blog.  And we share a Cambodia connection - I worked for Reuters there from 1996-98.  Here’s your chance to hear from her and give your opinion.


Photo: thanks to Flickr’s NCDD, a glimpse of the always-wired Beth Kanter.

I’m Beth Kanter of Beth’s Blog and I’m honored and delighted for the opportunity to be a guest blogger on Katya’s awesome nonprofit marketing blog.  I’ve worked as a nonprofit technology since 1993, mostly as a trainer, evaluator, and researcher and most recently as a blogger.  My bio is here.

I’d like to share my widget fundraising experiment with you and get your advice on how to do this better.  So, think of me as one of your organization’s supporters who has grabbed your organization’s widget and set it up on my blog.  What advice would you give to your supporters so they are successful in a group fundraising campaign.  What do I need to think about? What is the checklist?  What should I try doing?  What internal issues does this bring up for you? We had an interesting discussion at our board meeting about all this and I’ll share that shortly ...

What a deal!  I’ll make all the mistakes, potentially look stupid, and we’ll reap the benefits of learning together!

Some Context

One comment that Katya made about fundraising widgets that struck in mind is that it is about the messenger, not the organization.  So, let tell you why our family is passionate about supporting Leng Soparath, a young Cambodian woman, for her college education.

I’m the parent two wonderful children, Harry and Sara, who were adopted as orphans from Cambodia.  My children have food everyday, clothing, go to school, have toys (probably too many), and many other necessities of life that we often take for granted.  When we were in Cambodia, many Cambodian people came up to us and said “Your child is lucky!”  We would reply, now we’re lucky parents.  But in some respects, they were right.  The infant mortality rate in Cambodia is very high, so my children are lucky to be alive.

When we adopted our beautiful children, we also adopted their birth country.  We have embraced Khmer culture and we also feel a responsibility to give something back to the country, particularly to seriously disadvantaged children in Cambodia.  Soon after coming home with our first child nearly seven years ago, I volunteered for the Sharing Foundation, an ngo that works directly with local officials, orphanages, and NGOs in Cambodia to identify and carry out projects which improve the lives of children.  I now serve on the board.

There’s lots of could tell you about TSF and I encourage you to visit the web site so you can get an sense of the scope of the good work this organization does.  One of its focus areas is education. Over 1,300 children in Cambodia receive educational support every day as a result of The Sharing Foundation initiatives.  The Foundation has increasingly focused its efforts on ways to create and improve educational opportunities for Cambodian children of all ages, including public school projects, pre-school, Khmer literacy, English language instruction, high school and college sponsorships, and vocational training.  These projects present what might be the only means for the most disadvantaged children to life themselves, as well as their families, out of poverty conditions, become self-reliant and lead more productive, hopeful lives.

The Foundation is now its second year of college sponsorships.  Last year, our family stepped forward to sponsor Leng Soparath, an orphan from Kampong Speu orphanage.  For a gift of $750 annually, TSF is able to cover her college fees and living expenses. (It is a stretch for us ... we’re not rich but this could make such a difference in the life of one young person)  In addition to money, we provide emotional support and encouragement through regular letters and photographs that we exchange.  Our letters are hand-carried to Cambodia by Sharing Foundation’s 76-year old founder, Dr. Nancy Hendrie.  Watch the video for more information.

I’ve also documented our correspondence with Leng Sopharath in flickr (here, here, here, and here).

While TSF has paid staff, Cambodians, in Cambodia to manage all its programs, the work done in the US (primarily fundraising) is all volunteer-driven.  Almost of the money raised comes from grassroots efforts and primarily done offline as well as some web fundraising.  (See these wonderful examples.)  So, when I saw the fundraising widget, it looked like a natural extension of the type of grassroots fundraising that we’ve been doing offline.  And I might add that our family has made a commitment to sponsor Leng Soparath through graduation and we ask our friends, family, and colleagues to help us.  Even my kids contribute money from their piggy banks and direct birthday money to the effort.

So, I set up a campaign page on Chip In and blogged about it here and here.

Now what?  What are the ten things I need to do have in place to make this a success?  Post your response as a comment or send me a track back.  I’ll summarize the advice and share it back both here and at my blog.

As they say in Cambodia, ARKOON, which in Khmer means thanks.

PS If you want to read how important education is Leng Sopharath, read this letter from her.

 

 

 

 

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