I started my first project in autumn 2006. It was called the Autumn Smile where 400 children from orphanages came to enjoy the festival night. At that time, fundraising simply based on mouth-to-mouth method from groups to groups. The following year in autumn 2007, I received a big fund support from an online forum and I organized everything the same with bigger size of 700 children.
Lesson No.1: Online forum is an effective channel to call for fund. The project has succeeded in growing that fast. Doubled size, doubled budget.
The outcome turned out to be disappointing. My event was full of the forum members and they came to take pictures with the children like those pitiful kids were display dolls for them. The children did not feel happy as much as before. Some orphanages refused to join the year after.
Lesson No.2: Don’t freely receive the money just because you are in need of money. You must know what you should expect from that support.
I dropped this project idea but it was still carried on for several years afterwards, big size and poor result. I graduated from the university, started to work for a multi-national IT company. My life has crossed a remarkable line from this point. Although I worked for Human Resources Department but I had the chance to learn a lot about high-tech world. At the meanwhile, I volunteered to be the coordinator for a Netherlands organization in Vietnam. Two years working with them has given me so many precious lessons. I read online books from my company’s library (Skillport) about what we can do for the poor people. And I found out my new purpose.
Lesson No.3: Give them a fish – Give them a fishing rod – Teach them how to do fishing – Give them the chance to learn fishing.
Love Fund (Vietnamese name: Quỹ Yêu Thương) was founded in 2010, a combination of two small funds called Milk Fund and School Fund, using Facebook Page as the communication channel. The fund had such a successful year that exceeded all our expectation. But only at that time, I realized that I always had to manually summarize and type down each case. The images and scanned letters from the children were scattered. There was no way to get the whole information about a case in a convenient place.
In 2011, Love Fund started to have the page http://www.quyyeuthuong.wordpress.com as its official database for nearly 100 cases. The donators could easily find their supported children with the whole information in one thread. It’s also very easy to search for all cases in a particular area. Everyone was so happy with the improvement. The fund grew significantly in both quantity and quality.
Lesson No.4: Social network is not for chatting and gossip only. If we know how to use it, it works like a charm.
But again, I got into difficulties in 2012. The database was getting bigger and more complicated to handle. The number of files increased, new areas was added, the sponsorship changed every year. We had to open each thread to add new study records, update situations… After a semester, I had to do many reports separately which took a lot of time and effort. At the same time, I faced the crisis of lacking volunteer members.
Lesson No.5: The world is changing every day. We have to go forward and forward, improve and improve. Otherwise, we will fall behind.
In 2013, I worked with my core team to build up a more efficient webpage linked with file database. Although not done yet, our new website at http://www.quyyeuthuong.org has proved its voice. All I have to do is updating every piece of information in one database which is directly linked to the website. Donators and sponsors can filter everything they want to know on the website. And I can generate some frequent reports from the database with just one click.
Now we have a small operation fund from some close donators to maintain the trip expenses and domain. It’s three years, more than 10 children has finished their high schools and entered universities. Many more new faces have joined every year. But now I strongly believe that I can keep the fund going while improving our website and database.
Lesson No.(n+1): Dream high. Then do it with all your heart and mind. There is nothing impossible. Even a low-tech woman can make something really high-tech happen for her fund. You can do it as well!
I had never expected that the internet and high-tech tools would be this helpful to my fund. I still feel it’s like a miracle that it’s no longer out of our reach.WWW: Women Weave the Web