Tag Archives: philanthropy

Strength in Numbers 2014 – A Global Launch on Two Wheels

Mountain2Mountain has been lucky to be involved in a variety of arenas in the support of women and girls over the past 7 years since its inception.  2 years of partnerships and 5  years of working in Afghanistan have taught us much, and we have been lucky to be involved with a variety of projects that empower women and girls.   Going forward, our focus is built around our Strength in Numbers program.

The backbone of Strength in Numbers is the belief that one woman can make a difference but an army of women could change the world.  Using bikes, long a symbol of freedom of mobility, and a tool of the women’s suffrage movement in America in the early 1900’s, to unify the women we work with to pedal a revolution of change for women’s rights.

Photo credit Mariam Alimi (39)

Why the bike?  As you know, I became the first person to mountain bike in Afghanistan in 2009, a country that does not allow women to ride.  I have continued to do so for the past four years on every visit as a way of challenging gender barriers and opening conversations.  When I met the first women to bike in Afghanistan, members of the Afghan National cycling Team, I immediately moved forward with supporting the burgeoning cycling movement.

Around the world the bike is used a direct tool for social justice for women and girls – fighting gender violence, increasing access to education and healthcare, and providing overall freedom of mobility.  Not to mention two-wheeled joy.   The bike was an integral part of our own American women’s suffrage movement, as I illustrate in my recent TEDx talk, A Two Wheeled Revolution.

Now we need your support.  Mountain2Mountain has existed with no staff, no offices, and minimal funding for the previous five years.  I have traveled to Afghanistan 15 times with three more trips scheduled this year, several funded by myself.  I have worked full time for M2M since 2007, leveraging the sale of my house and bank loans against my car to support myself and my daughter Devon, in order to create M2M and the projects in the belief that I could create something beautiful and lasting that could have a ripple effect.  It has evolved, gotten a clearer vision, and become my own, but I cannot continue to do this alone.

2014 is set to be a major breakthrough year, we have a entirely new Board of Directors based in Colorado and a vibrant and international Advisory Council to help shepherd in a new era of Mountain2Mountain’s work.  We need your help to create a solid foundation that will allow us to do more good work in the years to come.   The first goal is to build an organizational budget that can support a small staff to work with me on the myriad of programs that support girls and women’s rights and opportunities.  We have developed the Strength in Numbers program, including its expansion beyond Afghanistan with our Global Launch in Rome next year.  We need everyone’s help to come together and make the world a better place for women and girls around the world!

The main programming support for 2014 and beyond is Strength in Numbers with three main programming arms.

1.    Afghanistan Women’s Cycling 2014 Support

  • Ongoing support of the women’s and the men’s national team with gear, equipment, and coaching.  Gear drives and sponsorship.  This is done directly with the Afghan Cycling Federation.
  • Finance a minibus for the women’s team to safely travel to and from training and to transport the bikes
  • Develop solutions for the overall lack of coaching, training, and racing opportunities in Afghanistan
  • Finance racing outside of Afghanistan – travel, lodging, race fees to allow the women to interact with their regional counterparts
  • Petition their involvement in 2016 Olympics in Brazil as observers
  • Focus on team development for future racing / possible exchange outside of Afghanistan to gain spot for 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
  • Expansion of the women’s cycling movement outside of Kabul spring 2014
    • New cycling team development and support of burgeoning cycling groups
      • First ever women’s mountain bike team in Afghanistan started in Bamiyan province
      • First women’s road bike team in Bamiyan province
        • Gear, bikes, clothing
        • Recognition by Afghan Cycling Federation and Afghan Olympic Committee
        • First ever women’s bike race in Afghanistan

 2.    Global Strength in Numbers Launch

  • Women’s Summit:  Launching in Rome in fall 2014 with women from other key countries where women’s rights issues are key to discuss SIN participation
  • Solidarity Ride 2014 in Rome with participation in the US, Afghanistan, Palestine, Pakistan, and India confirmed
  • Announce the spread of  Strength in Numbers into other countries with the goal of spearheading women’s rights activism and future projects.

3.    US based Strength in Numbers Camp

  • One week mountain biking camps that target women who have survived gender violence or girls at risk to empower them to become leaders in the fight for women’s rights globally
  • Summer of 2014 with 1-2 camps in Colorado
  • 2015 they would be one of several global programs under Strength in Numbers and the only US based program of Mountain2Mountain
  • Women would be chosen out of this program to take part in cultural exchanges with women in the global programs to provide cross cultural connections through cycling while developing solutions and programs around the issues of women’s rights and gender violence.

Our biggest roadblock is financial.  We have the support and the development to achieve the global launch of Strength in Numbers, but we need everyone’s help to build the financial foundation to manage this program for the next 5-10 years if we want to see a true ripple of change occur and create a two wheeled revolution with women worldwide.

We have several major assets to help us reach our goals in the long term.  My memoir: Mountain to Mountain: An Adventurer’s Journey Through Afghanistan on Two Wheels  comes out with St. Martin’s press on October 1, 2014.  Afghan Cycles, the documentary film by Let Media is in production and will release in the fall or winter of 2014/2015 and as the film’s non profit partner, all outreach and marketing will direct people to get involved via our Strength in Numbers program.  Major national and international press are covering the team and our work with them in the spring and summer of 2014.  We have amazing partners in the cycling industry with PrimalWear, Skratch Labs, Osprey Packs, Shredly, Handlebar Mustache, Pedros, and Alchemy Bicycles giving their support in year one.  The pieces are in place, we simply need to build our foundational support to allow us to plan long term, not project by project, trip by trip.  The time has come to grow, building a strong and capable team that can lead Mountain2Mountain and our projects forward.

Our Strength IS in our numbers and its time to come together as a global community to support a global program uniting women and girls around the world to tackle gender violence and women’s rights.

You can donate today, or email me directly atinfo@mountain2mountain.org to get more information or discuss your support further.

All my appreciation and gratitude,

Shannon

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100 Bikes by Christmas – Pedal a Revolution for Afghan Women

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This holiday season, pedal a revolution by supporting Mountain 2 Mountain‘s work with the women who dare to ride as part of the Afghan Cycling Team. These women are the first women to ride bikes in Afghanistan, breaking one of the last taboos in the country for women, and pedaling a two-wheeled revolution for social justice.

You can help directly as we continue to support the cycling movement in Afghanistan with the Afghan Women’s National Team and the cycling federation in Kabul. This spring, we are starting the first women’s mountain bike team and road biking team in Bamiyan – a province in central Afghanistan, high in the Hindu Kush.

We need your help to pedal a revolution! From now until Christmas, we have set a goal of donating 100 bikes to the women’s cycling program and the teams we are fostering. We are also creating a slush fund for future regional racing and team development.

$100 = 1 bike

Couldn’t be simpler! Just go to: www.mountain2mountain.org/donation

Want to gift a bike as a present? Email us at info@mountain2mountain.organd we’ll arrange for a pdf certificate to be emailed to you to print and give to your friends and family for the holidays.

You can also donate any amount to go into a fund to support the ongoing costs of the national team and the expansion of women’s cycling movement, including; renting a minivan and driver to get the Kabul team safely to and from training grounds outside of Kabul, travel costs for regional racing, entry fees, supplemental food, team mechanic, coaching clinics, cycling equipment and clothing, and more!

Want to learn more? You can visit www.mountain2mountain.org or watch our founder’s TEDx talk about a Two Wheeled Revolution!

 

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Streets of Afghanistan – A Cultural Exhibition

One of the most important things we can do as a non-profit organization is to make a connection. Not just between donors and projects, but between communities and individuals. Working in Afghanistan makes that connection very difficult to achieve.

Time and time again, people travel to the far-flung corners of the world, and come back changed forever. Touched by the people they met, the smells, the food, the landscape, they become connected in a visceral way. The people that have lived and worked in Afghanistan have that visceral connection, but it is not a place we can take donor trips to or host student exchanges.

Couple the lack of security with the media coverage of the war on terror, and the stereotypes built around a nation that has endured nearly forty years of conflict, and it becomes even more difficult to connect to the real Afghanistan. Mountain2Mountain was founded on the idea that we can create a ripple effect of change and compassion by connecting communities and cultures.

Out of that founding principle, Streets of Afghanistan was born. A multimedia exhibition that unites Afghan and Western photographers and videographers to bring a little piece of Afghanistan into our world for one night. Visitors walk amongst 10×8 foot high images and video projections that recreate the market streets in Kabul. The rolling green hills captured by photographer Beth Wald, look more akin to Norway than Afghanistan until you notice the yak train in the corner. It creates a different sense of place than the deserts and dusty landscapes usually associated with the region. The beauty, and the dichotomy of that beauty, set against the destruction and history takes your breath away.

The signature image of the exhibition, is a woman covered in a burqa sitting with her child in her lap, begging in the middle of the road. The image captures both the pain and beauty of Afghanistan; juxtaposing the dream-like quality of the country and its residents, against the ravaging effects of three decades of conflict and war. Photographer Tony Di Zinno captured the image from an oncoming car — lensing the feeling of impending contact. In reality, the driver stopped when he came to the woman and handed her some food from the kebab stand he had just visited for lunch.

Interspersed amongst the landscapes and streets, seven-foot-high portraits of women greet visitors. Images of teachers, students, police officers, ministers of parliament, mothers, and victims of self-immolations show the diversity of the women of Afghanistan — their beauty and strength in a country known for its oppression. Walking, ghost-like, through the crowd the images, and the video projections of market scenes and rural life, are real women dressed in the different colored burqas of Afghanistan.

Art has the power to change. Streets of Afghanistan aims to do just that; open hearts and minds in an effort to combat apathy with compassion. “Dare to believe in our common humanity” is not just our tagline — its a call to action. Come join us!

Streets of Afghanistan opens in Denver with a one day event at the Denver Art Museum on April 28, 2011, followed by an event at the Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art as it begins its journey as a traveling cultural exhibition.

 

photo by Di Zinno

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An Army of Women

Hilary Clinton wrote the book and thus coined the phrase, “It Takes a Village”.

In our case, I’d argue it takes an army.

Not a military one.  An army of women.  A battalion of passionate mothers, daughters, and sisters, that are willing to sacrifice time, money, and energy to be crusaders of gender equity and human rights.

The time of turning a blind eye, of ignoring the headlines, or saying, “but what can I do about it?” has passed.  The time for change is now.

No longer can we ignore the women raped around the world, the girls trafficked across borders for prostitution, or the unplanned babies born to both.   Women and girls traded as commodities and used like a disposable, empty, object.

No more can we dismiss genital mutilation, ironing breasts, or other torturous concepts that put the blame of rape and childhood pregnancy on the women, instead of punishing the men that perpetrate the crimes.  Mutilating women to stem sexual assault just adds insult to injury.

It is not acceptable that as women living in the West, enjoying the freedoms women before us fought for, that we do not rally, advocate, and work to ensure that women EVERYWHERE have these freedoms.

It is not enough to shout against the injustice done to women across the globe.

Action is the key.  As women, we must act.  As mothers, sisters, daughters, we must act.

We must build schools, train women, employ women, support women.  Provide education and healthcare to women.  Advocate against violence and mutilation practices.

Action, a forward momentum, an effort to make a change.  Little steps by the masses create large ripples that change lives.

John F. Kennedy stated, “One person can make a difference and EVERYONE must try.”  One woman on her own, can change several lives if she commits.   An army of committed women can change the world.

photo by Di Zinno

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Crowdrise – social networking for philanthropy

The last thing I need is a another social networking site to join.  I manage the M2M Facebook page, Twitter, blog, and website in addition to my own personal posts, tweets, blogs, and a profile on LinkedIn.  But Crowdrise is different, worth it, and totally harnesses the power for good, the energy of social networking, with a healthy dose of lowball humor thanks to founders Wil Ferrell, Ed Norton, and a whole slew of celebrities.

Their tagline captures the spirit:  If you don’t give back, no one will like you.

In their own words, “Crowdrise is about volunteering, raising money for Charity and having the most fun in the world while doing it. Crowdrise is way more fun than anything else aside from being all nervous about trying to kiss a girl for the first time and her not saying something like ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.'”

So I sat down with Megan and Corinne, two of our Development Board members to figure out what its all about.  I paid them each $20 to create profiles and post donations so we could see how it worked.

You can support a charity itself (hopefully us!) or a specific project that a charity is raising money for.  You can become a team member, recruit others, and the best part?  The unique aspect of earning points for each donation you make.  Points earn you cool prizes from Crowdrise’s sponsors, like Patagonia messenger bags, ipads, and more.

This won’t replace traditional donations through our website directly or snail mail checks in the mail from the old school contingent that still don’t trust the internet.  But if you are active on Facebook and Twitter, donating through Crowdrise gives your donation a voice – by showing your friends and family you care about a specific project, and giving you the ability to recruit others, share the link on your social networking sites, and tracking how close we are to our goal.  Something not possible through a traditional website.

So our first project page is dedicated to our deaf school in Kabul.  We got land donated from President Karzai, and the primary school construction donated by Innovida, a green technology construction company.  Fabulous news!  The more fabulous news?  They are ready to build NOW and can complete the school in about a month.  But we need to build the security wall and the secondary school so that the entire student population can move into the school at the same time.

So – visit our project page, to see the project, and donate whatever you can.  The beauty of a ‘vocal’ donation?  $20 goes a long way if you can find another 10 people to give $20!  So you need to share the project page on your FB and Twitter about it!   The potential is that its viral… think the Obama campaign!  Small donations by millions of people – we can all be part of the change we wish to see in the world.  Even if we think we can’t afford it!

Help us build this school!  Visit the link, donate, share, and make yourself and M2M heard!  This way – even the deaf children in Afghanistan will hear you!

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Small Footprint Approaches to Solve Large Problems

Afghanistan ranks 191 – currently dead last –  on the Quality of Life Index. To compare: DR Congo and Cambodia are tied at 160.

Maternal deaths are the 2nd highest in the world., where one women dies every 30 minutes.

Newborn deaths are the highest in the world with 1 in 4 children dying before their 5th birthday.

81% of women deliver at home without assistance.   Women and their babies die in childbirth or in the first two days due to lack of medical care and support.

80% of these deaths could be managed by a skilled birth attendant (SBA).

19% of newborn deaths come from asphyxia, and 50% from simple infections.  Both are preventable with simple tools.

That’s the cold hard facts.  Women are not valued the same as men or boys in Afghanistan.  In populated areas, often families are simply unwilling to pay for available health care for women when they are sick.  Their lives are simply not worth a $25 doctor’s visit.  In rural areas, the family may not HAVE $25 for a doctor’s visit.

Mountain 2 Mountain is approaching this problem with a fully unique approach that mirrors their cyclical model for education, training, job creation, and small business start ups.  Smaller footprint, less infrastructure, more education and training, microfinance, and sustainable development to reduce dependence.

The traditional model employed by larger NGO’s build and staff midwifery training clinics in large communities so that they can bring graduates to a centralized location.  Afghanistan is a decentralized country even at the government level, and when coupled with the gender and cultural issues that often prevent young women to travel outside of their communities alone for schooling, it is often ineffective.  Conversely, it is difficult to encourage graduates of these schools to travel to rural areas to live and work as health care workers.  Freedom of movement and relocation for Afghan women is not the same as it is in other regions of the world.  This model is cumbersome and doesn’t address the immediate issue at hand. High rates of women and babies will continue to die in rural communities.

Our approach not only takes these important points into account by bringing the education to the rural communities and training local girls, often only a 4th grade level.  These candidates can learn enough during an intensive four week training in their community to effectively manage and potentially prevent nearly 70% of maternal and newborn deaths.

Each year another 4 week training will take place to continue their education and allow it time to be put into practice.  The full program would take 5 years to complete.  This may seem like a long process, but the effect is immediate after the initial 4 week training.

Skilled birth attendants can make an impact by decreasing birthing deaths, teaching basic sanitation and prenatal care to their community, and creation of jobs for women in rural communities that often have no opportunities for female employment.

The long term effect is a thriving, healthy community, and a shift in the role of women within the male dominated society.  They prove their worth and earn respect organically by provided a needed service to their community.

That’s not to say that certified midwives and OB/GYN’s are not needed.  They most definitely are, but larger NGO’s can do that work best with bigger budgets and deeper resources.

When strong candidates, with talent, education, and family support, emerge for continued education we would sponsor those candidates for further nursing or midwife training programs and ensure that we can set them up with clinics and support back in their village upon completion of their training.

This model can be replicated throughout rural communities across the country, with Western doctors and nurses that have a knack for teaching and want to donate their time for the 4 week trainings.   Spending the majority of the funding on education, training, equipment, and resources, versus construction and staffing of large scale training clinics.

We plan to move forward with this village to village approach to health care and midwifery with our first communities this year, so that our first round of skilled birth attendants can make an impact in their respective villages.  We look forward to sharing with you their progress in the months and years to come.

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Thunderstorm Mission

“I guess the real question is, do we want to be a trickle or a thunderstorm?”  That was the question our Board Member, Wessel Booynsen, asked when I returned from Afghanistan last October.

Music to my ears.

My main goal with my return from Afghanistan was to look at the overarching vision – what change do we want to effect?    Do we limit ourselves to education?  To women and girls?  To Afghanistan?  Limitations kill my motivation.  Its like dousing a fire with a bucket of sand, not even a spark remains.

Thinking big is scary, but sometimes you have to put the cart before the horse, and look ahead at what you want to achieve in order to work backwards from there.   Sure, we could be a trickle.  Neatly ticking off one project at a time in an orderly fashion.  But I’m more excited by the thunderstorm, allow ourselves to think outside the box, expressing the magnitude of what we want to accomplish and then finding a way to get the lightening cracks started.

Moving beyond the staid, straightforward models that typically are associated with war zones dealing with the serious issues of gender inequity, abuse of women and girls, slavery, human trafficking, extreme poverty, and daily violence.   We would become a new generation of non profit.

1.  Work WITH Afghans, listen to them, learn from them, and look at ways we can act as catalysts for change.   Letting go of assumptions and

2. Create a cyclical model whenever possible.  Work to make deep, sustainable change by following through projects to the end goal. Education is our entry point towards empowerment, not the end result.  We need to focus on creating jobs, markets, and opportunities.  If we identify a region that is lacking midwives, we will work not only to train women from the area, but also work to set up small clinics for them to work out of.   We will also look at ways we can help home births in regions until midwives or health care practitioners are trained in the region, preventing unnecessary maternal and newborn deaths in a region that has the highest death rate in the world.

3.  We will be agile and nimble – working to solve problems, not create a replicable project.  More difficult?  Yup.  More beneficial?  Definitely.

4. We are focused on Afghanistan, but will also embrace opportunities that present themselves in other remote regions and conflict areas where women and children’s rights and lives are ignored.  If we can affect change, we must not let borders be an excuse not to.

5.  We will partner wherever possible.  Instead of trying to do a little of everything, we will focus on what we do best and partner with others that do what THEY do best.  Especially when we can utilize the support of local community organizations that deeply vested in change.   Eliminating the need to stamp our name on every project we do, we instead work behind the scenes help to empower locals.

6.  We will embrace our original and founding ethos of connecting communities and cultures – it is not just a toss away thought.  It is actually as important as the projects themselves.  Using photography, bikes, storytelling, and school project exchanges, we will work to connect our cultures, our schools, and our communities to further the potential for long term understanding and support.

As I look to my next return to Afghanistan this month, I am excited by the freedom the Board has entrusted me with to create the thunderstorm.  Look out for rainy days ahead!

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Breathe…and Take your First Step

Humbling.

Inspiring.

Invigorating.

Painful to look at.

That’s what I thought when I was sent this video from 2007 a couple days ago.  Jolina Karen, of Our Great Life asked myself and my partner-in-crime, Tara Kusumoto to take part in a video interview for her website.  The purpose was to document and share the story of how Mountain to Mountain was started.  Why did I do it?  What obstacles arose?  What did we accomplish and more importantly…what next?  Jolina wanted to share our story, but also look at ways that people become inspired to create change.

Other interviewees include our local ‘jungle doctor’, Doc PJ.  A one man medical mission in areas of remote Honduras, Nepal, Indonesia, and more recently, Sudan.  We are hoping to possibly work with PJ in the future in joint projects in Nepal.

Looking back, while its more than a little painful to watch yourself on video, its really cool to see that place and time preserved.  Tara was the other half of the coin in our first cycle to support Greg Mortenson’s Central Asia Institute and without her we wouldn’t have accomplished as much as we did.  Being able to see our relationship and our joint passion for the subject re-inspires me at a time where M2M is moving forward with the creation of our new evolution.  A Board of Directors and Advisory Board, new programming outreach, and new projects and collaboration in Afghanistan and other areas of Central Asia.

The irony is that I never wanted to do it.  It was a couple of weeks after a seven month push and I was beyond exhausted.  Getting in front of a camera was the LAST thing I wanted to do, much less rehash the last seven months.  I let Tara set the meeting and I dragged myself there – but the experience was a good one and now, in retrospect, I’m glad a record is out there.

Sometimes looking back helps remind you why you are moving forward.

One step at a time.

Our Great Life – Mountain to Mountain Video

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Visions of Kabul

On Monday we leave for Kabul.  The first trip to Afghanistan and the first trip on behalf of Mountain to Mountain.

Our primary focus is to meet with the staff with AINA and the Afghan photojournalists that are represented by the AINA Photo Agency.  AINA’s focus is on empowering media and communication.  Through filmmaking, photography, radio, journalism, and design, AINA trains, produces, and empowers individuals and communities to speak out and make sustainable changes within Afghanistan.

Mountain to Mountain has created a photography exhibit, Views of Afghanistan, with the help of some of the world’s top war photographers.  This show will showcase several Afghan photographers alongside Western photojournalists with a long history of working inside Afghanistan.   Proceeds from the show will go to benefit AINA to create a sustainable and profitable agency that continues to empower, train, and provide outlets for Afghan photojournalism and media.

Our second tier focus is meetings with other NGO’s; Turquoise Mountain, Afghans for Tomorrow, Be Peace, and develop a better understanding of how local NGO’s are working in the current climate throughout Afghanistan.  Our focus with Mountain to Mountain has been with sustainable girls education in remote mountain communities and we’d like to see where we can continue this work in Afghanistan in years to come.

Our third tier is more cultural than non profit.  We are taking in a game of buzkashi (a cross of horse polo and rugby), meeting with a master kite maker, and also with a burqa maker.  We are meeting with artisans and architects with Turquoise Mountain.  All with the desire to illustrate stories of traditional Afghan sports and culture that is thriving in the post-Taliban era that we can pitch to different media outlets outside of Afghanistan, in the hope of shining a light on the people and stories that are often shelved in lieu of war and terrorism stories.

It all comes around to the focus of Mountain to Mountain’s outreach at home: storytelling.  Through traditional storytelling, photography, poetry, education, and multimedia, we want to break stereotypes and bring our projects to life, with the goal of garnering more support and donations for our projects.

Dari is the most common language in Kabul and I have been practicing my pronunciation with an ex-Peace Corps friend who worked in Afghanistan in the sixties.  It feels quite natural and I am enjoying the process much more than I have when I learned French and German.  So I am feeling confident in my pigeon-Dari and hope to practice more with our translator, Najibullah.  I am hoping to go to a few areas of the city where only women are allowed and will not be allowed in with my male translator.

After all the planning, its hard to believe we are going to be in the air while our own country is casting its vote for our new president.   I am anxious to see how the result is received in Afghanistan firsthand, fingers crossed that it is received positively.

Many thanks for all of the support and good wishes and please stay tuned for daily blogs from Kabul starting November 5th.

Shannon

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Fundraising Boredom

Former Black Panther, Assata Shakur, sums up our philosophy towards fundraising at Mountain to Mountain, “We do not have the right, in the name of social justice, to bore people to death.”

How are you going to attract people to your organization, and thus, your cause, if the most they can be expected to do is write a check?  That check may help in the short term, but the donor is not aware of where that check is going, whose life is being affected, and won’t be someone we can count on to give again and again.   We want our supporters, donors, and volunteers to be excited about the work we and our partners are doing.  Excited to be part of the events, excited enough to open their wallet, excited enough to come to future events, and excited enough to tell their friends and family about it.

Mountain to Mountain aims to create cultural and athletic events that attract support and enthusiasm for the event itself.   Photography exhibits, book signings, speakers, trail running events, movie nights at the local theater, all revolving around the themes of our projects and partners.  People come to listen to a speaker or see award winning photography, and leave a little more educated about the individuals and communities we are striving to empower.   Last year’s, speaker and book signing event with Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, helped not only inspire donations, but allowed the audience to ask questions and further their understanding on the importance of girls education in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Without that event, we wouldn’t have raised over $105,000 in donations in a little under seven months.  Sponsorship totaled around $30,000 for several events in the same time period.

The downside is the cost of putting on events, versus more traditional fundraising.  The goal has always been to have our events sponsored entirely versus donations.  In this way, donations can go directly to the project or the partner charity in their entirety.  Photography exhibits are extremely expensive, even when the images are donated by the artists.  Production of the show, opening night costs, and traveling the show to multiple venues is not cheap.

Despite the second tier of fundraising needed, that of sponsorship in addition to donations, the events do make fundraising and the outreach less dull.   A bored supporter is a quiet one.  Entertain, educate, and inspire and your supporters will become vocal proponents of your work and cause.

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