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January 30, 2007

Fundraising workshop

At the end of the World Social Forum, I met an American man who told me he was planning to give a fundraising workshop for a bunch of community based organizations that he met throughout the week, and he invited me to share my story of TLC Farm's success. I was interested to see how we would translate American grassroots fundraising (of which he has 25 years of experience) into Kenyan grassroots fundraising, so I went.

The room filled with about 40 people, about 37 of whom were women, and about 35 of whom were working with their own small communities on issues related to HIV/AIDS. It was very, very intense to hear each women stand up and say virtually the same things about their communities, how they were torn apart by HIV, how they have so many orphans and vulnerable children, how they are trying to have income generating projects for widows, etc. And they were all trying to figure out how to find funding.

Actually, I bet half of attended the workshop because an American man was giving it, and they thought this would be their link to a wealthy American philanthropist, which is not a bad strategy considering that that's how so many projects get funded. Of course, after hearing my story of TLC Farm (which I shared as an example of creative fundraising, and as a story that you don't need money to get money), a lot of people came up to me afterwards almost expecting me to have a pocket full of funders in America ready to give. It was heartbreaking telling people that I really didn't know what I could do, but that I would take their emails and see what happens. (note from a few months later: I have a folder in my email inbox now of hopeful people wanting my help. More heartbreak, for all of us.)

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