A Conversation with Barrett Ward of fashionABLE and Mocha Club

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 12.46.00 PMI recently had a chance to chat with our June 20 speaker, Barrett Ward, founder/president of fashionABLE, and founder and former director of Mocha Club, and was intrigued by his approach to fundraising.

One of the things I find very interesting about Barrett’s approach is how, when it came to Mocha Club, he talked about the donor first.  Obviously, helping those in need in Africa is very important, but sometimes your differentiation as a nonprofit can occur from the donor side. In the case of Mocha Club, he saw this under developed resource, young donors, and found a way to engage them.  Other, more established non profits brushed off the idea of young donors, but by using some creativity, he was able to show those donors how they could make a big discount with relatively small amounts of money.

In your nonprofit, how do you approach under utilized donors?

In the case of fashionABLE, I like the fact that he started by focusing on strengths rather than weakness.  I’m always a fan of this approach.  I attended a presentation by Peter Greer of Hope International, and he takes a similar track.   You find out what a person or a group of people do really well already, and start from there.  In the case of fashionABLE, he saw a group of women trapped in a cycle of poverty and prostitution.  He took what those women could do well- making fashionable scarves.  He then connected them to what Americans do well- namely, buying fashionable scarves.  The end result is that these women have a skill and an outlet for that skill that gives them an income to support themselves and their families, as well as sense of pride and satisfaction from a job well done.

In your nonprofit, are you intentional about looking for what those you serve already do well, and what they have going for them?

One final observation, which I hope Barrett has time to address in his presentation, is how to approach entrepreneurs when it comes to fundraising.  I think most nonprofits go for safe fundraising, where $1 goes to buy a similar value in food, clothing, medicine, etc.  That certainly has it’s place, but have you ever tried to go to a potential donor with the idea that they could make a donation that either has the chance to either be lost on one hand, or multiplied exponentially on the other?  Fundraising for high risk/high reward projects can be scary to some donors, but it can be very attractive to entrepreneurs who are geared in that direction.

Do you prepare and propose high risk/high reward projects to certain donors?

Regardless of your answers to these questions, I hope you’re able to attend Barrett Ward’s presentation on June 20!


Brian Lord

I'm passionate about helping kids internationally, both directly, but also by equipping and encouraging others to do so. I've got a great wife and two little girls who always find cool ways to serve and love others.

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