A Fundraising Success

One CUSO group has found a popular way to fundraise, increase the enthusiasm and participation of volunteers, and raise public awareness about the Third World.

The Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario Fundraising sub–committee has built a fundraising and development education campaign around the sale of Chilean craft items from women’s cooperatives. This year they expect to raise more than $5,000 for CUSO women’s projects around the world, and in the process are taking the development message into their communities through displays and home parties.

Displays have been staged several times a month at various locations including CUSO’s own Open House in Winnipeg, at the annual meetings of other development organizations, churches, union meetings, the YWCA, the Fort Garry Resource Centre, the University of Winnipeg, Flin Flon Career Days, and conferences. Every time, there has been a great deal of interest not only in the craft items but also in CUSO’s work with the co–ops. And often there is an opportunity to make a presentation on the situation of women in the Third World.

Home parties are based on the Tupperware party idea, though the host or hostess does not receive any recompense. The parties allow information about CUSO, the women’s co–ops and Third World countries to be given in an informal setting. “Some of the people at parties may never have thought about development before,” says CUSO’s regional coordinator, Olga Flandez. “By encouraging people at the parties to hold their own parties, we expand our network and are able to reach more and more people. And the parties don’t cost CUSO anything as the people volunteer their time...”

In addition, the crafts are sold through the Winnipeg CUSO office and by other CUSO offices on a consignment basis, and there will be a sales display at the prestigious annual folk arts festival in Winnipeg in early August. Olga sees CUSO’s acceptance for this event as a coup: the festival attracts thousands of visitors.

The project had its beginnings in a visit made by Olga, a Chilean Canadian, and CUSO board member Moses Montgomery to Chile in late 1985. While there, they met with CUSO cooperant Ana Maria Quiroz who was working with women’s craft co–ops in Santiago. Marketing is one of the major problems facing Third World co–ops—local markets are limited and many are forced to sell at extremely low prices to middlemen who make most of the profits. The fundraising sub–committee agreed to market the items in Canada, and CUSO’s Program Funding Department provided $2,000 seed money to allow purchase of sufficient stock from the co–ops. The items were an immediate success in Canada.

“They are a good product, different and really nice,” says Olga. “The women’s co–ops need money, but they are not asking for charity.”

The decision to focus on selling crafts had a dramatic effect on the fundraising sub–committee. “We are recruiting volunteers very easily now,” says Olga. “Before we initiated this project, the sub–committee met once in a while but it was very frustrated because it had no focus.”

“On both ends, the production and selling is very distinct from charity,” says one member of the group. “It allows the producers more dignity and the sellers a more enjoyable way to raise funds.”

Reprinted from CUSO Forum’s August 1987 issue (Volume 5, Number 3). CUSO Forum is published four times a year. Write: CUSO, 135 Rideau Street, Ottawa, ON K1N 9K7.

Published in the Connexions Digest, Volume 12, Number 1, Fall 1988.



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