Message from the Founder, Alexa Benson
Welcome to our second End of the Year Summary! Our fiscal year begins on April 1st, and therefore this marks the end of our very first full fiscal year as well! After our first financial filing with the IRS, we were able to achieve Gold status with GuideStar (GuideStar.org), an organization that measures the leadership and financial transparency of nonprofits in the United States. Starting a nonprofit is hard work, but tremendously rewarding when the vision achieves concrete results.
Imaji’s Voice - is a registered nonprofit organization (NGO) in Calabar, Nigeria, that we first partnered with in 2020. The skill training component of this project has been placed on a temporary hold as Pauline Ojang (Executive Director) has been attending school to become a Clinical Psychologist, where we provided her tuition. In February, the public university system went on strike as faculty were not being paid for their work; Pauline was out of school for the rest of the year. Mid-year, she began volunteering at a local mental health clinic, Manna Mobile Foundation (see below). In the past week, Nigeria has agreed to re-open its public university system. We funded Pauline’s tuition and accommodation for her second year ($475) after a series of Facebook fundraisers. While Nigeria continues to be politically unstable, we believe that continuing to financially support Pauline’s educational objectives today outweighs the risk of losing the money to the state. We believe that her value to the community will only improve with her continued education.
Mobile Manna Foundation - is a registered NGO in Uyo, Nigeria. Their mission is to “offer world-class services to mentally ill and abandoned persons”, “enhancing the humanity of all.” We received a request for money to fund a year-long project for 2 women, Glory and Eno, to learn sewing skills. The cost of materials and a skilled educator for 12 months cost $600 and was funded entirely by our monthly donors! We believe that by helping a woman learn a trade, she can become self-sufficient financially and this, in turn, empowers her to become the sole decision maker in her life…something many of us Westerners take for granted!
Binni Bianni is a registered NGO based out of Mexico City, Mexico, which works with women and children to strengthen the social fabric of their community and their economy through models of economic solidarity.
We conducted two site visits in Mexico in 2022. In April we met with Anabel (an embroiderer) and Gabriela (a painter of ceramics). We discovered both came upon rough times during the pandemic and needed extra funds to restart their businesses. We gave each of them about $75 and discussed brand identity and marketing along with a small list of tasks that we would re-evaluate upon our return in September. We were unable to meet all six of the participants as a result of Covid restrictions.
Our second site visit was conducted in early September. On this visit we met with five of the six participants. Two of the participants were not able to sustain themselves financially with the training provided and one of these participants returned to her pre-pandemic job as an educator. One participant continued her work as a local seamstress and seems to be doing well. Another participant (Felipa) planted a crop of banana trees; because of her age she may need to transition to less labor-intensive work. We are currently working with Binni Bianni to develop a program for training Felipa to produce and sell dehydrated bananas. Anabel and Gabriela are getting back on their feet, post-pandemic, and are incorporating new products to sustain their small businesses. We were unable to reach the final participant and were unable to get any information on her.
This project for providing training in the construction trades was to be funded this year, but unfortunately our local partner was unable to develop the program and the necessary secondary funding sources. We will continue to monitor the potential for this project to move forward and hold the $451 raised specifically for this project until it is deemed by the Board to no longer be viable. If necessary, we will give all donors an opportunity to choose where their funds will be redirected.
Education and Life Foundation, a registered NGO in Lahore, Pakistan, has requested help with the funding of a Nursing Program to teach one hundred women over a 24-month period the clinical skills of Midwifery. We cannot stress enough how important it is that economically impoverished women in this region receive quality maternal health care by well-trained female providers! This is an urgent request. The cost of this program is around $18,000. We are currently seeking funding partners to assist us for this very large collaboration project and are able to send a very detailed project description including line item costs. Kindly contact Alexa at email@example.com if you can help with funding or put us in touch with someone who can.
This year we said good-bye to our Treasurer Annalisa Guidone. We thank her for the generous donation of her time and talent and wish her great success on her journey to become a Registered Nurse! In December, we recruited Lawrence Benson as our new Treasurer. Lawrence brings a solid understanding of economics and business to our young organization and an earnest desire to help women and girls get equal and safe access to education. Heather Albright, RN continues as our Secretary. Heather is currently attending a California University to receive a Master’s in Nursing to become a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Lastly, Alexa Benson continues as the Executive Director and was recently elected to the City Council of Veneta, Oregon. Each of us have moved safely through the pandemic and we hope you and your family are safe as well.
As stated earlier, we currently have Gold status at GuideStar. We hope in the coming year to collect enough data to meet the Progress and Results metrics required to obtain Platinum status. We also are trying to collect enough data for Charity Navigator to be able to recognize and ‘grade’ us on their platform. Transparency is one of our number one priorities, especially as we head into larger projects.
Last year, 100% of our donations came from individuals, almost an equal split between fundraisers on Facebook/Instagram (49%) and monthly donors (51%). We currently have 5 monthly subscribers ($100/month) and are aiming for 25 subscribers ($500/month) by the end of 2023. Our subscription donors currently give between $10-$30 a month. Now that you have seen our work, OUR ONE ASK this year is that you consider becoming a monthly donor. Consistent funding helps us better plan future projects with our program partners. PLEASE consider becoming a $10/month donor today, it is one way you can level up and put good karma out into the world. We will never call you asking for more money.
In closing, the Board would like to thank everyone who made our second year a resounding success (listed below)! We understand that there are thousands of organizations that you could have given your money to, and you chose us! We work to continue to earn your trust and to help your hard earned dollars reach a human in need across the globe. Remember, 100% of every dollar you give goes directly to help a girl or woman who lacks the resources to achieve economic independence.
We look forward to keeping you regularly updated on the status of the women you help. Many blessings and have a safe and Happy New Year!
Founder and Executive Director
Women and Girls First is a 501(c)3 non-religious organization based in Veneta, OR
Mission Statement: To increase the value of women and girls through safe access to education.
How do we plan to achieve this? By creating global educational partnerships that train women and girls in skills they can use to support themselves socially and economically.
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We increased our list of donors in 2022 by 32%!
We would like to thank: