How Our Campers Helped Pay Forward Their YEA Camp Experience

By YEA Camp Director Nora Kramer

December is a key fundraising month for most nonprofits, and YEA Camp is no different. We rely on donations to bolster our scholarship fund so that we can accept many amazing campers whose families don’t have the funds to pay the full price to attend YEA Camp.

This year, we were thrilled to receive a matching gift from our friends at A Well-Fed World, a wonderful nonprofit that funds smaller programs in line with its mission. Whatever funds we raised up to $10,000, AWFW would match!

We posted this great opportunity on Facebook and Instagram and shared it in our enewsletter. A couple weeks before the end of the year, we were getting close to our goal but weren’t there yet. In looking for creative ways to spread the word to more of our supporters, we had the idea to see if some of our campers would be up for helping. I reached out to some of our alumni campers to see if anyone would like to get some fundraising training and reach out to our supporters, and three of our campers jumped right in!

Ashlee, Mia, and Sade actually have never met. They were from three different sessions of YEA Camp and live in three different states across the country. Yet, during their holiday break from school, they each got on a webinar training with me and a fundraising consultant and longtime supporter of YEA Camp to learn how to make these calls. They each shared their “why” about what YEA Camp meant to them and why they want to help it grow.

Mia shared that from attending YEA Camp she “gained a sense of community and now I know that I have people I can talk to when I’m feeling stuck about any personal activist struggles and a better community to reach out to if I’m needing any help.”

Ashlee said that she “got a lot of confidence and got to find myself better, and I’m really thankful for YEA Camp and all the people that I met.”

And Sade shared that YEA Camp helped her see “that I can make a change, and that it can all start with me.”

Awww! This was so inspirational to hear — that not only did these campers get a lot out of attending YEA Camp, but they wanted to volunteer their time to help us grow by paying it forward! And they were happy to be getting valuable free fundraising training from a fundraising pro, which is one of the most marketable skills for anyone who wants to work in the nonprofit field.

I was so impressed that they each followed through and spent some of their vacation time making calls to some of our longtime supporters. At least someone that they each called donated to our fundraising drive! I was thrilled that they all also reported having a great experience doing so!

After Mia got started and made all the calls on her list, I asked her how it went, and she said “Great! I would love to do more!” When I thanked her, she said “Of course! I’m so excited!”

Ashlee said, “This was so much fun and I’m so happy YEA Camp will be given this opportunity to help other people…. YEA Camp is like a second home.”

Sade said, “If there’s more fundraising opportunities, feel free to let me know!”

To top it off, the funds that these campers raised (assuming the folks who donated would not have donated otherwise), put us over the top to reach our fundraising goal and were all doubled, thanks to A Well-Fed World’s matching challenge!

The same day we hit that total, I accepted our first financial aid applicant of the year, an outstanding young woman from The Bronx who is passionate about feminism and human rights, but whose family would not be able to pay the full tuition. It is thanks to our fundraising that I knew that we could afford to accept her and other aspiring advocates to attend YEA Camp next summer. When I told the girls this news, they broke out the all-caps to show their excitement! One said “OMG THAT’S AMAZING. I’M GONNA CRY” and another shared “AWW I’M SO HAPPY FOR HERRR.”

This was such an inspirational win-win all around, and we were thrilled that our campers had such a positive experience while several donors expressed appreciation and that they were impressed by the campers who called them!

Thank you so much to Ashlee, Mia, and Sade, to A Well-Fed World, and to every single person who contributed to this fundraiser. We so appreciate you and what your contributions make possible!

Summer will be here before you know it, so please share with any aspiring advocates you know who might be interested in our youth camps or in YEA Camp for Adults. We could all use a little help changing the world! And, thanks to all of our supporters, we do offer financial aid to those who need it.