Mississauga’s World Vision Canada focuses on fundraising in student circles

Mississauga-based charity World Vision Canada has dramatically changed its approach to youth and teen-based fundraising projects ahead of its national 30 Hour Famine event on April 12.

“We’re really embracing the grass-roots model of approach and moving away from the top-down, standard campaign,” Director of Youth And Student Engagement, Sheri McConnell, told YourMississaugaBiz.com.

One of the major changes for this year’s campaign for 30 Hour Famine is a new, centralized, dedicated team centred on increasing engagement and student-led initiatives.

“We really wanted the elements of student participation to be the loud voices rather than it being a campaign from a head office,” McConnell said.

The new team’s approach moved the event away from simply groups and widened the number of causes to allow for more individual choices. “We want to build a storytelling culture where students can really feel like they’re connecting to that cause,” McConnell said.

A new online fundraising platform (www.yourmovement.ca) eliminated paper forms for the first time while also providing information about the 15 global projects and two national ones.

Participants in this year’s event can also choose what they want to give up. “Some people are giving up furniture or technology,” McConnell said. “Some people are giving up texting for 30 hours. Challenging them about what other countries don’t have that you have and putting yourself to relate to whatever that issue is.”

All this focus on personalization and engagement as the vehicle for fundraising may seem superficial, but McConnell said the approach helps participants cut through a lot of cynicism and feelings of helplessness. “For them, poverty has a name and a face to it,” she said. “It’s not just that kid that’s got flies buzzing around their head.”

World Vision is also hoping these additional efforts with youth will increase philanthropy dollars and long-term involvement.

“The more they’re right in the core in the center of it, the more they’re going to own it, there’s buy-in, then loyalty, which leads to long-term engagement,” McConnell said. “And we’re working with youth that have the most disposable income ever, even though they all think they’re broke.”

The World Vision director also highly recommended other non-profit organizations increase their student-led, student-driven, student-creative share of initiatives. “It can be scary, but that’s where I think coaching, mentoring and really walking besides these youth for these experiences is really crucial,” she said. “Rather than expect them to adopt a certain campaign.”

World Vision Canada is headquartered on 1 World Drive in Mississauga. The anti-poverty development and advocacy group employs more than 400 employees.

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