A Letter from Sasha Chanoff (Founder, RefugePoint)

With the unprecedented magnitude of the global refugee crisis — more than 65 million people displaced and the average amount of time nearing 20 years that an individual lives as a refugee — your energy, ideas, and engagement are needed more than ever.

After I spoke, many of you asked me about my work and so I wanted to share some additional information. You can learn more about RefugePoint here. RefugePoint’s founding story is also the lead story in my recent book, From Crisis to Calling: Finding Your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions, with a foreword by CNN analyst and advisor to four presidents David Gergen. the story is about a life and death decision a colleague of mine and I faced during a rescue mission into the Congo to evacuate people. Here’s a video about that story too.

In addition to telling that story, I made a few points about what I found to be helpful in starting RefugePoint. I’ll briefly recap three here:

Tell Stories:

Stories capture the imagination and inspire people to engage. What’s your story? How can you use your story to inspire others? The description of Marshal Ganz’s course: Public Narrative: Self, Us, Now is worth looking at in this respect. I also learned from The Moth, a premier story-telling organization, that little details in a story are crucial in order to capture attention and help people to remember why you do what you do.

Understand the Context:

Who else is doing work similar to yours? How does your work relate to other organizations? Why has your project not been tried before? How does it fit into the landscape of humanitarian response and fill a gap? Make sure you have a solid rational for why your project is uniquely needed.

Collaborate and Share:

Share your insights and knowledge. There is too much competition for resources and this often inhibits effective collaboration. How can your work and contacts further the efforts of other organizations? Think of fundraising in terms of an abundance of resources. Share fundraising contacts with others. When you are forging a relationship with potential donors, listen to them, find out what their interests are, see how you can help to further their goals. Build relationships based on shared values. Don’t think of a relationship as the transaction of money changing hands. A book titled The Generosity Network by Jennifer McCrae and Jeff Walker is one of my favorite resources in this regard.

Sasha Chanoff

Founder and Executive Director, RefugePoint

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