Tag Archives: Three Cups of Tea

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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from small beginnings…

…big things can grow.

Such is the nature of Mountain to Mountain’s creation, its outreach, and the projects we support.

Two years ago the seed was planted to ‘be the change’. Like many across the world it was a simple act that spurred me to action. In my case, I read a book, “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson. Inspired by the story of what one man can do to promote peace and educate children, with nothing more than passion and the willingness to make mistakes, I came to a realization. “What are you waiting for?”

A traveler and ex-pat for over ten years, I considered myself a global citizen. If that was truly the case, what was I doing to be part of the global community? How was I helping my global neighbor? The answer depressed me. And kick-started me in action.

Truth be told, I’m a doer. Some people may call it impulsive. Reckless. Crazy. Others close to me have kinder labels. I had no prior experience in philanthropy, fundraising, little public speaking experience, and no management background. Yet overnight, I decided to create a non profit. I’d learn ‘on the job’.

So, with the help and support of a good friend, Mountain to Mountain was born. The decision was made to host an author event with the man that had inspired my call to action and raise money for his foundation, Central Asia Institute. Our mountain community here in Colorado would come together to fund a school in the remote mountains of Central Asia – thereby connecting our mountain communities together through a common thread of education for all.

Our mountain communities are unique. We are small knit communities that share the common love of the outdoors, sports, and travel. We endure long winters, yet have thriving art cultures. Tapping into those values was what could make Mountain to Mountain unique in its fundraising and outreach. I didn’t want to just raise money, I wanted donors and supporters to understand WHY it was so important to get involved with our partners and our projects.

And thus, through the winter season of 2006/7, the author event branched out into a much larger fundraiser and booksigning alongside an inaugural charity trail running event, Race for the Mountains. Now I was adding the additional branch of ‘Race Director’ to my rapidly growing tree.

In just seven short months, we raised over $100,000 through our grassroots outreach. Enough to support the building of two schools in Pakistan with Central Asia Institute. Two communities that will benefit from their girls and boys being educated in a region with few schools, teachers, or opportunity. Two communities that recognized the value of educating their children and devoted their time, sweat, and materials to provide the manpower to make it happen.

and so we continue to grow….

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