Filling the pot, one donor at a time

Director of Development and Communications, Lucy Valentine Wurtz, shares why each and every donor is important to us as we work together to end extreme poverty. 

haba na haba hujaza kibaba: little by little, the pot gets filled

My favorite Swahili proverb is haba na haba hujaza kibaba: little by little, the pot gets filled.

Sometimes the pot gets filled by the gallon, sometimes by the cup, and frequently, teaspoon by teaspoon. Each one helps fills the pot. But 48 teaspoons makes a cup, 16 cups makes a gallon—you get the idea.

This holiday season I was reminded of this aphorism when we received a new top-charity endorsement from The Life You Can Save (TLYCS), based on a high rating from ImpactMatters, a non-profit evaluator that recommends charities based on the best return on charitable dollars. The Life You Can Save holds that living an ethical life involves using some of our wealth and resources to improve the lives of those living in extreme poverty, and helps donors find effective charities that provide the highest impact for each dollar invested. This endorsement “turned up the spigot” and led to an abundance of new donors to help fill the Village Enterprise “pot”.

It is truly amazing how little it takes to help lift someone out of what might at first seem like an endless cycle of poverty. For just $25, we can transform an individual life. For each $500, we can launch a new business that generates ongoing income and savings for three entrepreneurs and their families—an average of 20 people. In just one month, The Life You Can Save endorsement brought in nearly $15,000 from 83 new donors, which Village Enterprise will use to start 30 new businesses and impact the lives of 600 women, children and men.

As fundraisers, we are incessantly focused on harnessing the resources we need to accomplish our goals each year. For a lean and small organization, common wisdom holds that the most efficient way to do this is by gallons at a time.

However, in my experience, this isn’t always true. And that is because there is extraordinary power in each and every contribution: the power of the individual and the intention behind the gift.  Because the truth is that donors don’t just bring money, but a trove of other resources. These including advocacy, referrals, and time, as well as the commitment of one more person extending his or her resources to end extreme poverty.

For our businesses to succeed, each member must develop complementary skills that enrich the whole group. At the village level, success depends on diversification of business type. I view fundraising through the same lens. One donor might have a plethora of wealth; but others have an abundance of time, or be willing to pledge a certain percentage of their modest income each year. Each and every contribution fills the pot, and we are grateful for them all.

Our new TLYCS supporters are coming from 17 states and 8 countries, extending the Village Enterprise circle far beyond our normal reach. So welcome to Rachel from Australia, Alee from Abu Dhabi, Michaela from the Czech Republic, to this incredible community of people committed to a cost-effective entrepreneurial approach to ending extreme poverty.

I am in awe just imagining the ripple effect this can create.

Thank you, and I would love to hear from you.

Haba na haba hujaza kibaba—we will end extreme poverty—one donor at a time.

For insights on development and fundraising to end extreme poverty, you can follow Lucy on Twitter @ValentineWurtz or reach here at

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