Funding Fears

Funding Fears

I’m on the plane to Frankfurt where I will talk at a fundraising dinner tonight.

The event that is taking place has supported ATE for the last 3 years, and each year the amount of money raised has accounted for nearly half of our total funds raised… This amazing annual contribution has grown as we have grown, £27k in year one, £50k in year 2, and £70k in year 3. I am hoping and praying that tonight will be at least as much as last year, if it’s not, we are seriously in danger of coming in significantly under our £200k target. If that happens, we might not be able to extend our programs next year.

We’ve identified the next school that we hope will benefit from the expansion of our feeding program. Gombele Junior High School is the most isolated school in the district, with the worst attendance rates. On the day I visited in July, only 11 children were in class. The other 150 on the register were out in the fields, wearing rags and farming the land - the community is extremely rural and suffers from severe food insecurity. By feeding these children a nutritious daily meal and encouraging them into school, we could make a real difference to the children here. Education will give them a chance to break the cycle of poverty, to become a literate adult who can work to support themselves and their families. I will be devastated if we can’t help them.

The constant pressure of fundraising dominates my work with ATE, and my life. Most nights I go to sleep (or more often lie awake) thinking about it. It is always top of my list of things to be worried about.  Will we raise enough this year? What about next year? What will happen to the families we work with if we can’t raise the money we need to support them? I am terrified of failing, and of the consequences that this will have for others.

Over the last 3 and half years we have experienced tremendous generosity from so many. Almost everybody we talk to about ATE has willingly opened their hearts (and their wallets) to support our work in Ghana, and I am so grateful for that. I’m relieved that we have enough money for today, and for tomorrow, but what about next year? And the year after that? What if the event I’m going to tonight pick a different charity next year? How will we replace such a significant contribution? It is a constant cycle of grateful happiness, and stressed anxiety.

If I am totally honest, I love the buzz of fundraising. I thrive under pressure, I revel in the spotlight of public speaking and the possibility of achievement drives me on to beat targets and grow our income at least 30% a year. I adore it, and I think I’m pretty good at it – so far, but, at times, I’m worried I have reached my capacity. Some days I am so tired I can hardly string a sentence together, never mind make a passionate speech.

I’ve carefully written my speech for tonight, it is heartfelt, honest and grateful –I hope I will have the composure to make sure that my message is heard. I will sleep well tonight if I do a good job, I’ll sleep even better if I can rouse the support we need to expand the school feeding program to Gombele Junior High School…...

Wish me luck!


Sarah is the Chief Executive of Action Through Enterprise (ATE) For more information go to

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