Lynne Sootheran started donating to Right Sharing when she realized that there was a Quaker organization committed to serving those with the lowest monetary resources in the world. Because women so often carry the weight of their culture and society by being primary caregivers to children, she knew that raising the status of women would positively affect their whole community.
Lynne served on the Board of Right Sharing and was a member of Program Committee from 2011 to 2014. While on that committee, Lynne became particularly interested in Donor Designated Projects (DDPs), an option that RSWR offers to donors who would like to fund all or a portion of a project of their choice (for more DDP details, see page 3). Lynne and her husband, Kent Simmonds, have become great proponents of DDPs in their hometown of Decorah, IA, and among Friends regionally.
In 2015 Lynne and Kent sponsored the Dr. Gordon Memorial Trust project in Tamil Nadu, India. The project recipients were 25 Dalit (formerly called “untouchable”) women who started businesses including making Indian drums, tailoring, and making and selling jewelry, among others. Although the women were initially fearful of being cheated and concerned about making enough profit, the NGO staff visited often and supported the women in buying goods and sharing success stories among themselves. By the end of the first year, the women’s self-confidence was greatly increased, they were making a significant income, and they were able to provide their children with good food and education fees.
Donor Designated Projects appeal to Lynne for several reasons, the first of which is that donating the cost of a Right Sharing project enables her to be simpler in terms of her finances, which connects her to the Quaker value of simplicity. Further, by choosing the region and the project, donors are able to fund an enterprise that aligns with their personal values. For donors who have a 403b account with a mandatory take-down, or an IRA with a minimum required annual distribution, giving that money to RSWR can be a good way to minimize federal taxes. It can also be a great way for Meeting members to connect with giving to Right Sharing by funding and choosing a project together.
In celebration of Right Sharing’s 50th anniversary in 2017, Lynne has made additional commitment to support DDPs. In 2017-2019, Lynne will contribute $2,500/year for DDPs if another donor or group agrees to partner with her and match the gift. This way, donors who are interested in DDPs but are not able to fund the full amount themselves will be able to have the opportunity. If you or your group is interested in partnering with Lynne one of these years, please contact [email protected] for more information.
Rob and Bill Quigg’s family have been Quakers living in East Central IN since the 1840s. In 1961, the Quigg Fund was established to support faith-based Quaker organizations. When RSWR Kenya Field Representative Samson Ababu visited the US in 2013, he had an opportunity to meet with the Quiggs. Having heard amazing success stories about micro-loan projects, it was instructive to hear Samson’s stories about the day-to-day, behind-the-scenes work of the projects RSWR supports. The Quiggs agreed to fund 5 projects in Kenya over the next 5 years.
Right Sharing’s commitment of Quaker service to humanity is one that the Quiggs find inspiring and motivating. They chose to fund DDPs because they could relate to the women more personally. As business people themselves, they want to help the women participating in their projects become successful business people and contributors to their own communities.
In 2014, The Quigg Fund sponsored the Lutonyi Friends Women Group. Members of the group divided themselves into three clusters to maximize profits. Each cluster grew a different crop. They arranged for training from the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture in crop management, marketing, and financial management. The women’s success in business enabled them to pay for their children’s schooling and give back to their communities.
Get Involved with a Donor Designated Project
If you’re interested in strengthening your relationship with the projects receiving Right Sharing grants, a Donor Designated Project might be a good fit! Here are some more details about how you, your Meeting, or another group can fund a particular project:
• For $6,500, Right Sharing will match you with a project. This includes the grant amount and most of the cost for training and support given by in-country staff. For 50% ($3,250) we will find you a project to share with another donor.
• Donors may choose from a list of projects approved for funding by the RSWR Board, which meets and approves projects in October and April of each year
• Alternately, donors may pick a region where they would like to support a project and Right Sharing staff will select the specific project for them.
• Supporters of a Donor Designated Project will receive a copy of the six-month and one-year progress report from the project and stories of individual beneficiaries. Depending on the technological capabilities of the group, donors also receive photos. Moreover, donors are invited to share photos or communication with the group, although all communication between donor and project needs to occur through RSWR.
The sooner we know about your interest the better!
Find out more by visiting https://www.rswr.org/donors/donor-designated-projects/ or by contacting [email protected].