Arlington Academy of Hope (AAH) is a small, nonprofit located in Arlington, Virginia, that helps support children living in the Bududa district of Eastern Uganda reach their full potential by providing them with access to quality education and health services. In 1995, the organization’s founders John and Joyce Wanda relocated to Arlington, Virginia. There, they witnessed the high level of education their children received in the public school system and were inspired to create the same experience for students in Uganda. In 1999, they began providing financial resources for education purposes to a handful of students in local schools, but they wanted to do more, so in 2004 they established a primary school in the village of Bumalukani, and in 2015 about 350 students are enrolled.
AAH’s primary school grew rapidly, both in the number of students it was supporting and the number of graduating students eligible to attend secondary school. By 2006, 100% of AAH’s seventh graders were passing their national exams and qualifying for admission to secondary schools throughout Uganda. While the AAH team celebrated this milestone, they faced a new challenge. How could they ensure that their primary school graduates attended and completed secondary school? They badly wanted to support their students beyond primary school but found that they did not have the resources to do so. AAH has a solid base of donors and supporters in the United States, but the increasing number of students eligible for secondary school would require them to raise funds quickly and look outside their existing network.
In order to grow their programs AAH’s Executive Director Maureen Dugan knew they needed to increase their visibility and find a broader donor base. Maureen searched for a crowdfunding platform that would help the organization grow their donor network and provide hands on customer support. For Maureen and her team, that platform is GlobalGiving. In 2012, AAH joined GlobalGiving’s September Open Challenge.“I had no prior experience with online fundraising; it was not a part of my skillset when I came to AAH,” explained Maureen. But she soon found that GlobalGiving specialized in working with organizations new to crowdfunding. “What’s great is that GlobalGiving works with organizations at all different levels.The GG staff is very approachable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and call in,” Maureen stated.
By explaining the potential of a partnership with GlobalGiving to their supporters, the AAH team was able to get them behind their Open Challenge campaign, and they raised almost $7,000 during the Open Challenge. Due to more donors and increased funding, 100% of AAH primary school graduates have gone on to secondary schools since 2012! Rachel, who began as an AAH primary school student, is now entering her third year at university. She credits AAH for her success as a student: “Before AAH, I just assumed that after 7th grade, I would get married. That is what all my older sisters did. That was all I knew. Now, I am in university and will have a career helping others.”
Maureen and the AAH team are now crowdfunding experts! Due to their hard work and open communication with the GlobalGiving staff the AAH team quickly became a Superstar organization that actively participates in GlobalGiving’s programs. “GlobalGiving is making us a more effective organization because of what the team asks us to do and by the tools and information they share. GlobalGiving also increases the visibility of our organization, even though we are small”, Maureen said. Maureen has made learning from GlobalGiving’s tools and programs like the Online Fundraising Academy an investment and priority. Maureen shared her experience with the Online Fundraising Academy, “GG has brought many new donors to us and enabled many youths to go to school as a result. I would say that the Fundraising Academy was an absolute lifesaver for us.”
As of July 2015, the team has raised more than $300,000 on the GlobalGiving platform, including $15,681 in GlobalGiving’s July Partner Rewards Bonus Day. AAH’s crowdfunding success has allowed them to provide each of their students with a secondary education and the greater Bumwalukani community of schools with additional resources ensuring that students like Rachel will continue their education.
All photo credit to AAH
Written in collaboration by Karis Ailabouni, Jenn Bell, and Emma Park, and Katherine Sammons
Designed by Emma Park