I have been fundraising for equitable access to education for HIV orphans in Kanungu in Southwestern Uganda for the last 20 years. I could never have predicted that my two-room school would become a community of 85,000 students and 20,000 grandmothers and that we would be participating in the NYC Marathon on its 50th anniversary (TCS NYC Marathon 50).
I founded the Nyaka School as a humanitarian effort when I witnessed the huge increase in the number of HIV orphans in my village Nyakagyezi, Kanungu. These kids were left helpless with no parents, no caretakers and certainly no future planned for them. Using my personal funds, I built a small school with not much else in it, and then realized that for me to continue to support myself and my family in Michigan I would have to fundraise. Today, the Nyaka campus sits with two primary schools, a vocational high school, a clinic, homes and a myriad of programs. Some of the programs run are education, health and nutrition, ending gender based violence (EGBV) and a socio-economic empowerment program with the women in our community fondly known as Ba-Mukaaka or our Grandmothers program.
Because we depend on our donors and supporters, fundraising is an all year round activity. Therefore as the CEO of a Not-For-Profit organization registered in the United States as a 501c3 fundraising is a skill that I have had to develop in order to grow the venture. It is the most vital framework in ‘giving back’ as charity is dependent on the continual intake of revenues to be sustainable.
Growing a Not-For-Profit is like growing any other business. We still require the same business infrastructure and planning as any other venture, the only difference is that we must have consistent fundraising input. I have developed strategies for different demographics and while most people think that ‘giving back’ is for the rich, our organization has developed programs where small businesses, schools and individuals have supported us, all while fostering bridges of social impact for both the donor and our community.
One of the most recent developments was our partnership with the TCS New York City Marathon. Hailed as the largest marathon in the world with over 50,000 runners and 2 million spectators, the criteria to qualify in this annual race is designed for the regular marathon runner to preserve the integrity of the competition, however the organizers reserve some running spots for charities like Nyaka to fundraise via a community charity partnership program.
This program is highly valuable for the Not-For-Profit sector that is usually lacking marketing and advertising budgets, yet it is the ultimate win for charity supporters who wish to visit New York City or gain entry to an exclusive event with global media coverage and for the avid runners that wish to compete in the race while making an impact in the lives of others.