This week, I got to sit down with SOS Alum Kari Griffore to talk about her past experiences with SOS and her most recent fundraising efforts to support the community Chuacruz, Guatemala.
Kari was president of the SOS Windsor Chapter and travelled to Chuacruz on an outreach trip in August of 2018. There, she spent two weeks helping the community build classrooms for the local school. Two and half years later, she still keeps in touch with the leader of their trip to stay updated on the community.
In her most recent conversation with her former trip leader, she learned that the community was struggling to get access to clean drinking water. Many of the students didn’t have clean drinking water at home and the school wanted to provide access to clean water from the building. Together, they decided to start an online fundraising campaign to purchase water filtration systems for each classroom. After a quick brainstorm, Kari offered to set up a GoFundMe page and lead their fundraising efforts.
When asked what inspired her to get involved with fundraising again, Kari noted the importance of her connection to the community, “during my trip, we stayed in the actual community so I really got to see firsthand how they’re doing in the community, and got to interact with them, and really understand their struggles. So it was a really good experience to be able to help with this initiative and help them get those funds so that he could make this project a reality.”
Although her fundraiser was a huge success, it did not come without its challenges. I asked Kari about the biggest challenge she faced when planning the fundraiser and here’s what she had to say:
“The biggest thing was getting people engaged and getting people involved with everything being online. The fundraiser was done strictly through social media, so I guess the way that I overcame that was really just making sure to share it with people who had similar values. I shared it with a lot of SOS alumni and I’m still connected to a lot of past members so a really big thing was sharing it with them and having them share it with people as well…Another way that I overcame it was sharing personal stories and personal memories from my own trip. I think people actually getting to see pictures and videos of this community really made it more of a personal connection and encouraged people to want to help out with this mission.”
Despite the challenges, Kari was able to raise over $1500 for the community, which more than surpassed her goal. The community was able to purchase the water filtration systems and install the devices in each classroom.
Kari noted that much of the success of the fundraiser came from personally reaching out to others and asking them to share or donate if they were able to. She said that it’s important to not assume that everyone will see a post, and encourages volunteers to reach out to people by phone or through group chats. Even if they can’t donate, ask them to share the fundraiser with their circle of family and friends to encourage those who can to donate.
For more fundraising advice and ideas, check out this short clip from my interview with Kari:
Kari’s fundraiser demonstrates that the connections made during exchanges can last a lifetime. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, she was able to stay connected across the globe and make a real impact just by reaching out to others. The students and teachers in Chuacruz now have access to clean drinking water in their classrooms and Kari feels inspired to keep reflecting on her global experiences.
To keep you feeling connected and motivated for your personal fundraising efforts, I’d like to leave you with this message from Kari:
“During our trip, we were able to go to one of the households in the community to cook dinner for them. I think we all got very emotional this evening seeing how little they had and the lack of basic resources they had and the mother of the family said to us (translated by our NGO) – ‘Do not feel guilty for what you have, I wish my children could have the opportunities you do. Continue to use the privilege that you have to do better for children like mine.’This quote is something that sticks with me and inspires me to stay involved.”
Thank you readers, until next time!