Half the Himmel: A Fundraising Tale

Task # 84: Hold a Community Discussion on a Book.

Back in July, I facilitated a wonderful community gathering of women to discuss how RICH we are as women, and how easy it is to EMPOWER each other. I started off the hour by asking each women to write her own name…and allowed a few moments for us to REMARK on how AMAZING our gift of reading is…and also, then of WRITING….and then also of MAKING OUR UNIQUE MARKS…on this world.

Bead for Life Products

The gathering focused on the book HALF THE SKY. I SO loved this book, that I wanted to host a fundraiser around one solution it proposes: reduce poverty through microloans.  This is a book not about FACTS, but PEOPLE. And yet, it completely presents ideas about global poverty, sex slave industry, maternal health, war.

Kiva’s mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.

Kiva was born of the following beliefs:

  • People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.
  • The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.
  • By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.

Kiva promotes:

  • Dignity:   Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and respect.
  • Accountability:   Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.
  • Transparency:   The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world.

So, what better way to get people to donate money and join a KIVA group than by hosting a wine tasting party at my house?

5 Steps to Throwing a Fundraising Party

Step ONE

Invite around 24 people, hope 18 show up. Inviting people who would resonate with the HALF the SKY message (that all STORIES matter, and that sharing can change lives) was key. I made a few invitation blunders, but in the end, the people that show up are the ones that needed to be there.  But I still have to battle the thought that “MORE is BETTER” mentality…as if it is a popularity contest.


Enlist HELP and CATER.

A friend with a phenomenal eye helped me “set the scene” and decorate.

Another friend was placed in charge of the wine tasting.

My "zen room" served as the Bead for Life Store and gathering space

Another lead the Bead for Life Campaign.  I hosted a gathering over 6 years ago during grad school and still CHERISH my beads.  The company teaches and equips Ugandan women to turn colorful recycled paper into beautiful beads. As hosts, we learn about these women and encourage our guests to support them by purchasing the products. The amount raised becomes translated into  “income, food, medicine, school fees and hope.” Have you ever MADE something? Do you remember the satisfaction of production? I HEART BEAD FOR LIFE! Check out my purchases (and maybe a gift spoiler as well!)

And another strong-armed my “I can do it all” attitude by insisting that I cater.  That’s right. No potluck. No frantic shopping lists. No chopping up vegetables or frantically attempting to find service wear. Back in my grad school days, I worked as a community programmer and my second PHD should have been in catering on a dime. So, giving up a bit of the control and the bucks to have one person prepare everything was a huge step for me. My friend, however, encouraged me that my main job is to promote the LESSON of the book and SHARE my inspiration. Even though Wine and Food inspire me, that should not be my focus TONIGHT. …thus, I provided an

outline of the event: three wine tastes and finger food to pair well with the wines.

The Foodie Goodies

I even enlisted the help of a baker here to donate a few dozen cupcakes.

The results ROCKED!


Make people feel special.

I put together “Half the Sky gift bags”. Inside each one was 1) some good quality chocolate, a wine tasting pad with, a sheet of paper with KIVA and Stories related to Half the Sky, a pamphlet  about Bead for Life, and a handmade bookmark. Again, back to Step THREE….THIS IS SO COOL! I have the pleasure of knowing this budding 13 year old artist, and I enlisted her to create unique bookmarks for each of us. At the event, this young lady hand scribed our names on each one.   Thinking about how this connected to the production theme from BEAD for LIFE inspired me…speaking of inspiration…

Morgan, the artist, and me


BE Passionate, but to the point, in order to PARTY

I attempted to speak only for 10 minutes or so. And let the energy of the evening make its mark. Presenting the basic information about KIVA. Do you know what KIVA IS? Basically, it is a financing internet based group that provides small loans to others for the sake of alleviating poverty.  WHY I love KIVA:

  1. They BELIEVE in the GOODNESS OF PEOPLE. That we want to HELP and if we are helped, we will want to PAY IT BACK.
  2. They hold those who receive the loans accountable by providing accountable guidelines for them to repay the loan.
  3. It is the STORIES THAT MATTER. And as Half the Sky promotes, poverty will not change due to large political missions, but normal people supporting each other.

As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

I spoke with passion, encouraged a contribution, and then sat down and drank some wine. Enjoyed a cupcake (even though I am not a huge fan of them) and enjoyed even more wine.  Our group raised over 13oo CLAMS…but again, it is not about the number. The number doesn’t say much. The stories shared that night, and the one that is brewing as I sign up to give a group in Uganda raising money for a new beauty parlor, MATTERS.

We hallmarked the kiva group: Half the Himmel (sky, in German)….

What do you contribute to?

How are your sharing your himmel?


4 thoughts on “Half the Himmel: A Fundraising Tale

  1. This is such a great idea.
    I try to give money and “things” as much as possible. I donate money whenever I can (even if it’s only a dollar or two to the firefighters for kids) and I donate my clothes to goodwill once a month. I also donate to the kidney foundation. I don’t have much to give, but I give what I can 🙂 It feels good!

  2. What a beautiful event! Kiva is really a fantastic organization and one that I really believe in.

    My latest cause has been flood-ravaged Pakistan. I am just in shock and awe at the devastation that is going on there. I only wish I could do more than give money but I do what I can.

  3. Pingback: And I’ll Cry If I Want to…. « The Special K Treatment

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