Every Volunteer Does Their Part
January 21, 2020
It’s 9pm and Marion, a first-time volunteer from France, smiles and leans back into a chair as clumps of her long, brown hair are lopped off, gathering about her feet. The buzz of the shaver is drowned out by the cheers of encouragement from people she only met a week ago. Paola is up next! The energy on the base in Salinas Del Marquez, Oaxaca, has been electric since Paola and Marion announced they’d both shave their heads—if they could raise $700 before midnight. Volunteers and staff pooled their spare cash and shared the fundraising pages with friends and family. By midnight, Marion and Paola had raised $1600, double their original goal. This is just one example of the inspiring lengths our phenomenal volunteers go to ensure the sustainability of our programs around the world.
THE FUNDING GAP
According to NatCatSERVICE, the number of natural disasters occurring worldwide has more than quadrupled since 1970. While it’s clear we can’t predict where, when and with what force natural disasters might strike, we do know they’re inevitable, inflict severe damage and occur with alarming frequency. We need to be ready to react quickly and efficiently as they arise.
We’re hugely grateful for the generous donations and services provided by our corporate partners and private donors which underpin our programs, however, given the huge costs involved, and the levels of unpredictability, we’re often operating with the knowledge of a gap in funds. This is where volunteer fundraising plays a vital role. Our incredible Volunteer Engagement team develop strategies to meet this funding gap. As valuable members of our family, we encourage our volunteers to advocate for impacted communities, reaching out to their family and friends to support the work we do by donating to their personal fundraising pages (peer-to-peer fundraising). Volunteers can also support a program by donating ‘gifts in kind,’ such as vital tools and equipment, allowing funds designated for such purchases to be re-allocated. 100% of funds generated by a volunteer for a specific program go directly to that program and are put towards the most pressing requirements.
HOW IT’S ACHIEVED
Fundraising is part of the fabric of our programs and we’re fortunate to have volunteers who are passionate, connected and excited to share their experience. Our Volunteer Engagement Coordinators (VEC’s) continually promote the importance and impact of volunteer fundraising to inspire and support the participation of everyone on program.
Our volunteers create ingenious ways to generate funding. They’ve hosted several large scale events like ‘Rise Up Ride On’ in the Philippines and the Holi Run in Nepal, where volunteers and staff teamed up to raise funds. However, a flow of continuous donations are generated from smaller scale fundraisers, such as auctions and ‘dollar days,’ on base.
We’ve seen volunteers wash dinner dishes, host a film festival, write personalized poetry, take vows of silence, knit scarves, create stickers and provide cooking classes amongst many hundreds of imaginative fundraising ideas. They have ran, paddled, biked, hiked and pushed each other in wheelbarrows for so many miles and, like Paola and Marion, they have lost so much hair— all in the name of raising money for our programs.
The fact that, on occasions, donations from volunteers and their personal networks have been all that’s kept a program operational, shows how essential this funding stream has become.
Looking at fiscal year 2019 alone, our volunteers raised almost $800,000 for our programs around the world. To demonstrate how impactful this figure is, it would cover the cost of:
- Building the primary school and kindergarten we’re currently working on in Mexico twice
- The project labour cost of our Yabucoa program between December 2018 and May 2019
- Mucking and gutting nearly 800 flood damaged homes
And the impact isn’t just financial. A study found that mass media tend to focus on disasters occurring across Europe and South-Central America, especially when these generate dramatic scenes. As our volunteers have joined us from 144 nations, by sharing their unique experiences from disaster zones, they regularly engage a global audience. They aren’t simply fundraising — they’re bringing the worlds’ eyes back to regions that need attention.
By combining one brick with 50,000 others like it, we can construct a safe school where generations of children will learn, play and grow. Combining one voice with hundreds like it, all reaching out to their networks across the world, we can ensure survival stories are shared and learned from. When we provide our volunteers with the right tools, they can become advocates of those impacted by natural disasters, allowing them to recover with strength, dignity and resilience.
Considering that a $1 donation would buy as many as five bricks for our programs, never have the statements ‘every dollar helps’ and ‘to be courageous is to be a voice for the voiceless’ been more relevant.
For more information or to discuss personal fundraising strategies, please contact Jodie Harrold, Volunteer Engagement Manager – [email protected]