Happy New Year! (And a Thanks from Ms. Karoma)

Happy New Year Echoers!!

I hope that 2019 is off to an amazing start for all of you! 

Big thank you all to those who contributed to our 2018 Holiday Season fundraising campaign. Between donations through the website, those who donated in person to me over the break, and funds that came through on Facebook we raised just over $3000 which beat out last year's record! Hoorah!

Where does that leave us?

We had to close the gap on Esther's outstanding rent for the end of 2018 to ensure that the Women in Action Development Project could remain in their present location. The balance was $3500US. $3000CDN translates right now to about $2100US so we are still looking at another $1400US to go. 

Esther is already receiving pressure from the landlord. We've moved the school once before because of outstanding rent payments. The process disrupted an entire semester at the school - something which we'd like to avoid. So let's ensure that we get the school off to a strong start in 2019. 

I also wanted to share a video with you. I posted this to the Facebook fundraiser but I had yet to post it to the blog. The video is a brief interview that Esther filmed with Ms. Karoma who is the cosmetology department teacher at Women in Action. You'll also hear a shoutout from the cosmetology students to the Esther's Echo supporters - YOU! Thank you for all you have done. You have made all of what you see here possible. 

Once again, Happy 2019!


Holiday Season Fundraising

Hey Echoers!

We’ve had an online fundraising campaign going on live on Facebook through December. If you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, check it out here!

We also relaunched our YouTube Channel. You can find it here:

And to get the blog caught up, here is the letter that was sent out to all our donors below.

I wish you an incredible 2019!

-Matthew

Hello Echoers!

Happy Holidays!

For those of you who have been tracking our online fundraising campaign on Facebook, we made our initial goal of $1500! For those of you who contributed on Facebook, thank you so very much. Because we hit the goal with more time to go in the Holiday Season, I've decided to raise the target to 2000 dollars. Let's see if we can make it!

Where do these donations go?

All of your donations go directly to Esther's school, the Women in Action Development Project, which Esther founded herself in 1996. A small transaction fee of $30 is charged by the bank each time we do a wire transfer which is typically once a quarter. I offset this cost myself. Our only other overhead expense is the monthly cost of our website on Squarespace which is also about $30 and I offset that too. The Esther's Echo staff work for free, thankfully, so that doesn't cost anything! (Our staff of one ;) ) The rest goes overseas to cover Esther's expenses in operating her school which typically graduates 20-25 students per year depending on enrollment numbers and environmental, political, or financial disruptions such as the Ebola outbreak in 2014 or the heavy flooding in 2016. The largest expense is the rent on the building that Esther's school currently resides in.  

Why do we keep paying rent?

Great question. Unfortunately, when we first started Esther's Echo, the rent rates on Esther's building were less than half of what they are now but rising rent rates are a continuing problem in Sierra Leone.  Rent doesn't sound like an exciting fundraising goal, but ultimately what we're really fundraising for is the education of vulnerable people in one of the toughest places in the world to live. Our goal, in the future, is to build Esther her own school. A small portion of what we fundraise goes to this end as does the money raised by Esther locally. This year, we finally broke ground on the new location!

How much is left to fundraise this year?

Esther needs to pay the rest of the 2018 rent off by the end of the month, which is coming up. $3500 US is outstanding. We have about $2500 of that raised so we are close! If we get that in, the school stays open, if not, the landlord can force the school out. We've gone through that once before when we transitioned to the current location after Women in Action was forced to leave their original location when the landlord decided to tear the building down. It is not something we want to repeat as the process usually costs the school an entire semester of class time if not more. 

The education of young women is one of the most effective ways of transforming a society. I am asking you help us make that possible. Our donor community is a small one, so every donation makes a huge difference! It also means we always welcome new donors so if you are willing to share our campaign with others, I would be ever grateful. I will write them and thank them personally for donating. I also give public presentations on international development to schools who are interested in fundraising for Esther's Echo. The cost of a presentation is simply a donation to the organization. If your school or classroom needs a speaker, let me know!


All my gratitude to those of you who have already donated. I know there are so many charities tugging at your sleeves this time of year. That you choose to donate to Esther's Echo means so much to me, Esther, and the women and girls of the Women in Action Development Project. 

You can find our Facebook Donation Campaign here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/204167650489110/

Or donate on our website by clicking the donate button below!

Help Keep the Women in Action Development Project Open!

Live at the Giving Tuesday Event in Vancouver

Hey Echoers!

We’re live at the VanCityGives event for Giving Tuesday!

I’ve joined over 10 other non-profit organizations who are all here for a big announcement: the official declaration of today as Giving Tuesday Day in Vancouver. City Councillor Michael Wiebe stopped by to make the declaration providing us all with a official plaque.

There will be over 2 billion social media impressions made throughout Canada today for Giving Tuesday, which Amanda Burrows, the coordinator for VanCityGives said is a direct response to the extreme consumption culture of Black Friday.

VanCityGives coordinator Amanda Burrows (left) with Vancouver City Councillor Michael Wiebe (right) with official municipal declaration of Giving Tuesday in Vancouver

VanCityGives coordinator Amanda Burrows (left) with Vancouver City Councillor Michael Wiebe (right) with official municipal declaration of Giving Tuesday in Vancouver

Be sure to check out our profile page on Giving Tuesday below. We are trying to break last year’s fundraising record!

https://givingtuesday.ca/partners/esthers-echo


Rocking the Giving Tuesday threads

Rocking the Giving Tuesday threads

All the participating organizations for VanCityGives

All the participating organizations for VanCityGives

Donate for Giving Tuesday!



Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday!

Hey Echoers!

Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday!

Giving Tuesday is a global movement for giving and volunteering that follows Black Friday each year. Considered the start of the giving season, it is a day for organizations, like Esther’s Echo, to rally its donor community, YOU! Giving Tuesday was celebrated in over 150 countries last year and generated over 21.7 billion Twitter impressions. Tomorrow we’re celebrating Giving Tuesday here in Canada, specifically Esther’s Echo will be part of the local Vancouver chapter of Giving Tuesday called VanGives. We’ll be joined by other local organizations who are all telling their story throughout the day and raising money for their causes.

GT_Assets_Save-the-Date_Cropped_EN_Orange.png

Last year’s Giving Tuesday was our single largest donation day in the history of the organization at $2,300 CDN. I am hoping we can match and surpass that record this year! Esther has already begun work on constructing their own building. While we don’t have the funds to complete the school yet, she does want to complete the foundation as soon as possible and any amount of funding sent helps. Construction is FAR CHEAPER in Sierra Leone. Every dollar goes a really long way.

Building Esther her own school is a dream shared by both Esther and myself. With their own building, Esther and Women in Action wouldn’t have to rely on making rent payments that could otherwise be reinvested into growing the school, reducing student fees, and paying teachers and the work has already begun with Esther at the helm. We still have rent to cover while doing the construction, so donations will be prioritized there while Esther also begins saving portions to continue the construction project.

Let’s ensure that Esther’s dream can be realized and let’s break that fundraising record! I’ll be updating tomorrow from the VanGives headquarters in Vancouver during Giving Tuesday!

You can find our Giving Tuesday profile on the Giving Tuesday Canada mainsite here:

https://givingtuesday.ca/partners/esthers-echo

Also check out the Giving Tuesday Canada Promo Video below and please consider giving us a shoutout on your social networks with hashtags #VanGives, #GivingTuesday, and #GivingTuesdayCanada

-Matthew

Donate for Giving Tuesday!

We Kept Women in Action Open Another Semester! Now On to Giving Tuesday!

Echoers!

Great news! In August we were running a fundraising campaign to see if we could close out 2018’s rent for Esther. And we did! We got all the funding we needed by the end of the month and transferred the funds. Through September, Esther brought the funds to the landlord and we waited as Esther negotiated with the landlord because we were late and they were starting to threaten legal action. But I recently received confirmation that we are okay at least until the end of this year.

Wire transfer receipt to Women in Action for the balance that YOU helped fundraise! Hoorah!

Wire transfer receipt to Women in Action for the balance that YOU helped fundraise! Hoorah!

So here is where I share our next two fundraising goals. By April, I’d like to ensure Esther has all the rent paid for 2019 which will be another 7,000 USD. 2500 of that we need by the end of December to allow Esther to remain for the Spring semester.

What about the second goal? Here is where things get more exciting. Over the last year, I’ve been talking about plans to build Esther her own building. I’ve wanted to do this for years because it means that our funding dollars aren’t just paying rent, but actually providing a space that BELONGS to Women in Action itself. That would mean that future donated dollars can ALL go directly to expanding curriculum, paying teacher salaries, and lowering student fees. Some of our funding already accomplishes these more exciting budget line items, but a majority of the funding goes to landlords. Rent is important. It keeps the school operating. But ultimately we want something more sustainable. How much will that cost? Originally, I thought the costs would be much higher – in excess of 100,000 USD. However, Esther has drawn up a plan with an engineer and it is more like 35,000 USD which is amazing. The school already has a plot of land to construct the new space which we helped to purchase a few years ago.

Activities resume for the Fall Semester at Women in Action

Activities resume for the Fall Semester at Women in Action

In addition, to help get things started, the staff and students have already started to construct parts of the building that they can do on their own.

IMG-20181006-WA0000.jpg
IMG-20181006-WA0005.jpg

How can you help? Giving Tuesday is coming November 27th! Please consider us again this year. Last year’s Giving Tuesday was the single largest fundraising day we ever had. Our first goal is to cover the more immediate need which is Esther’s Rent. Anything in addition to that goal we raise between now and April will go to the construction project. You can find our profile at: https://givingtuesday.ca/partners/esthers-echo.

Thank you all so much again for your continued support! Also, welcome to our new donors who helped us during the August fundraising push!

Sincerely,

Matthew

Donate Today!