The Ask5for5 Campaign, launched by SeeYourImpact supporter and nonprofit crusader Sarah Lenssen, has been a huge success. Nearly $10,000 in the last 5 days! We are forever grateful because children, families and communities will now have more of the necessary, life-saving food and water. But like any initiative or undertaking, there is a great deal of planning that goes into it. Our staff felt there were three key takeaways from the Ask5for5 Campaign for famine relief:
1. Organizing – Sarah Lenssen has been amazing. She made calls, sent emails, arranged meetings, and laid the foundation. And when she couldn’t do it, she appointed people who could. A campaign of this magnitude took hours and hours to set up. There is no substitute for hard work.
2. Bloggers – From the beginning, it was bloggers who powered this campaign. Moms, dads, students, social media professionals, journalists, and others from every corner of the globe, spreading the word about the campaign. A sizeable, dedicated group of bloggers can make the world stand up and take notice.
3. Social Media is Important – Though there is still resistance in many quarters, people do see the power of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, GooglePlus, LinkedIn, etc. It’s not just about posting. More than anything, it’s about “participating”: saying hello, engaging a suggestion, encouraging a positive idea some put on your page. It’s adds authenticity to what you do. Our social media community is just amazing!
These are just three of the ingredients, but there are among the most important.
As SeeYourImpact.org looks to the future, we will build on these and other points from our campaigns. We have a great support network around the world. They make it all possible. And they help make everything we do worthwhile. From everyone on our staff, we thank you for helping to make Ask5for5 a success during International Social Media Week.
If you’re a frequent donor at SeeYourImpact.org I bet you noticed the number of gifts expanding in Latin America. Recently, I visited a few of our charity partners in Guatemala and met personally with children who have been helped through SeeYourImpact.org.
When thinking back on the trip, it’s the children that are engraved in my memory. Everywhere I went I noticed a large number of children working by peddling on the streets, tending stalls in markets, working in their parent’s bodega, helping at a restaurant and farming in rural villages.
Most businesses relied on the help of the entire family. The kids ranged in age; generally once kids were old enough to count they were part of the labor force.
During my visit, teachers working for the Ministry of Education were on strike. Did this impact my perspective? Yes, some schools were closed in the areas that I visited. In fact, we were unable to visit a kindergarten in a rural village in the District of Chimaltenango because the classroom was empty.
Who wants to visit an empty classroom? I believe that the strike increased the number of children that I saw working, but in a country where only 23% of adolescents attend secondary education I’m not sure if this was the main factor.
I visited five schools and spoke individually with 25 students. I was impressed. The kids were driven and realized how lucky they are to have the opportunity to continue their education. I visited schools in Guatemala City, the City of Chimaltenango and in rural villages with only 100 families.
I was extremely fortunate to meet Edwin, a student studying architecture in Chimaltenango. Edwin shares a one room flat with his brother a few blocks from school. The rest of his family lives in a village with 25 families four hours from his school. When he was younger Edwin walked a few hours to attend grade school because bus service is sporadic in his small village. Most of his classmates in school ended up working when they finished grade school because his community does not have a high school.
Now, he is studying architecture at a vocational school and aspires to become a draftsman after graduation to help support his family. In this picture he’s standing in front of a model that he created as a class project. Edwin grew up 8 hours from a skyscraper and has only been to Guatemala City once!
How can you help?
We work with a number of charity partners supporting education in Guatemala. When I was there, I saw first-hand how your small gift has changed lives.
Today, you can change the life of a girl in Guatemala City or help children like Edwin living in rural villages. Together we can provide educational opportunities that would ordinarily be out of reach.
“Mamma, do you know pandas are dying?” said my pre-schooler as I was watering the plants. “Oh really? Why’s that?” I had no idea where this was going, so trod carefully.
“They are dying because they don’t have any bamboo to eat,” he said. “Idea! Let’s send all your bamboo plants to China. Then the pandas wouldn’t have to die.”
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” I replied, putting myself between him and my bamboo plants. “The plants will dry up before they reach China, and the panda wouldn’t be able to eat them. I have a better idea. Why don’t we send some money to people in China so they can buy fresh bamboo shoots for the pandas?”
He considered the suggestion for a moment, before piping up. “But, are you sure those people will use the money to buy bamboo for the pandas?”
Children are born skeptics. Esoteric transactions involving pieces of plastic do not satisfy them: they want to know if the result they intended was achieved or not. My five-year old would not have been satisfied until he saw a photograph (or better, a YouTube video) showing a panda munching a piece of bamboo sporting a gift tag with his name on it. He wants to see his impact. And what better way to get them addicted to giving than SeeYourImpact?
Both my kids are naturally generous. My seven year old has often given unopened bars of his favorite chocolate to kids who seem hungry (that he then forces his younger bother to share his chocolate is a different thing altogether), but I have always wanted to wean him away from sporadic acts of charity and into more meaningful and long term donations.
One of our newest partners provided me with the perfect opening.
“Hey, do you know that if we don’t order Dominos Pizzas this weekend, with the money we save, we can give one hungry kid tasty food for three months?” I said.
His eyes lit up. “Really?!”
“Yes really!” I pulled up on my laptop screen the awesome new gifts we’ve just listed.
“Provide three months of healthy meals to the child of a migrant laborer”, he read, then looked up with shining eyes. “Can we really do that?”
“Sure you can. And two weeks later, you will also get a photograph of the child and know all about him.”
“Cool. Can he be my friend then?”
We made the donation, and my kids circled the date on the calendar so they would know when to expect the impact story.
This is a real peep into my own household. Part of what drives my work with SeeYourImpact.org is watching how it helps my kids. Like many parents, I’m looking for ways to teach my children to think beyond themselves and their immediate wants and needs. It is not always easy. But SeeYourImpact makes it relatively easier by listing gifts that children can relate to, and which they would want to share with other children less fortunate than them. It is just a question of helping our kids find the gift that fits their own particular interests or concerns.
If you’re looking to donate with children, here are a few child-friendly gifts: backpacks for children in Colombia, soccer camps for disadvantaged kids in Seattle or a chance to see the doctor for children in Kenya.
There are so many possibilities. Helping your child make an impact will empower them and the person they help.
Twelve days after we made the donation, we got back an impact story. The older one proudly read the story out to his younger brother, then asked if he could take a print-out to school to show his classmates.
Maybe it is time to set up a campaign page for them.