Monthly Archives: September 2009

Fearless Fundraising–by guest blogger and Big Sister staffer Laura Toni Holsinger

I’m not a fundraiser.  Well, at least that’s what I told myself to minimize disappointment as I began my quest to raise $1,000 (yikes!) for Big Sister through this year’s Rodman Ride for Kids.  Turns out you don’t have to be a fundraising pro, you just need to ask.  Here’s a look into my unexpectedly exciting journey through the unfamiliar world of fundraising.

July 28:  I started out with an e-mail.  Yes, just one e-mail. As I browsed my contact list, I added them one by one: My aunts, my dad’s friend from college, my sister, my grad school classmates. Before I knew it, I had sent an e-mail to more than 30 friends and family.  While I had a great template e-mail to send, I decided to add my own personal touch.  Nothing like that hook to get the family involved!

Sisterhood has had a profound impact on my life. My mom grew up with five sisters (and one brother!), modeling the value of sisterhood through her relationship with each of them. I’m lucky enough to have a sister, Beth, who is also one of my best friends. And over the past nine months, I’ve been volunteering as a Big Sister to Toni, an amazing 12 year old girl from Boston that I’ve been privileged to get to know and mentor. Sisterhood is a gift. Your support can provide that for more girls in Greater Boston.

Oh no, what will they think? I hate asking for money!  I stared at the screen for a bit, and hit the send button. And then, I waited. 

July 29:  My first donation!  A high school friend comes through with a $25 donation.  I’m off to a great start…$975 to go!

August 1:  Another donation.  This one is quite a surprise.  $200 from one of those people that I thought might read the e-mail and then delete it.  $775 to go.

August 13:  Donations are slowing down. Time for another e-mail!  It turned out to be a nice reminder for those friends and family that initially thought to themselves “Oh yeah, I should support that,” and then forgot.  It worked!

September 5:  It’s official, I’ve reached my goal!  But why stop there?

September 14:  New goal:  $1,500.  Third and final e-mail goes out to those that still haven’t donated with an announcement that I’ve increased my goal.  Two donations came in within 24 hours!

And I’m still going!  I had no idea how much support I would receive by sending a compelling e-mail and sharing my story with family and friends.  What I’ve learned from all this is not to be afraid, especially if I can somehow benefit a cause I truly believe in.  I have also learned that people can be exceedingly generous; even when you least expect it.  All you have to do is ask.  Next year, $2,000.

Big Sister goes back to school!

Have you ever thought about becoming a Big Sister, but didn’t think you had the time to make the commitment?  Did you know that Big Sister Association offers the opportunity to volunteer on your lunch break during the week?  Our School-Based Mentoring program offers the opportunity for women with busy schedules to mentor a girl at various Boston schools near where they work.  Now that schools are back in session, we’re looking for more women to become School-Based Big Sisters!

Instead of eating lunch at your desk or grabbing a quick bite from the fast food place around the corner, you could spend 45 minutes to an hour, one day a week throughout the school year, making a difference in the life of an elementary school age girl.  School-Based Big and Little Sisters meet at the girl’s school during her lunch time and do everything from playing board games and reading books, to arts and crafts, shooting hoops, or just talking about what’s going on in the Little Sister’s life.

It may seem simple, but the impact that your attention, support, and consistency have on your Little Sister is big.  “I think the Big Sister program is great for the girls in my room…I know all the girls really look forward to the days their Big Sisters visit and always come back feeling really great.  It is also important that these girls, who are often shy in class, have a time where they don’t have to hold back or feel nervous, but can be the center of attention,” said Joanna Pfister, a fourth grade teacher at the Hurley Elementary School in the South End. 

Additionally, according to our Program Outcome Evaluations, which are completed by the girl’s teacher:

  • 79% of School-Based Little Sisters demonstrated improved trust toward others
  • 79% of School-Based Little Sisters also showed improved class participation
  • 75% of School-Based Little Sisters showed an improved ability to use school resources

According to a study published in March 2009 by Dr. Jean Rhodes of UMass Boston, which examines the impact of mentoring with regard to gender, girls who have a School-Based Big Sister show greater academic gains.  Girls with School-Based Big Sisters also demonstrate improved peer relationships and lower stress levels (The Role of Gender in Mentoring: A Three-Part Study, Rhodes and Litchfield, March 2009).

Now is the time to make a difference. Big Sister offers our School-Based Mentoring program at schools right near your office!  If you are interested in learning more about becoming a School-Based Big Sister, click here.