Friends of Plan Canberra, a long standing community group of advocates for children and gender equality, have raised an incredible $74,612 to support Plan International’s projects around the world.
And now, after 40 years of support for communities from Timor Leste to Tanzania, the group are ready to pass on the fundraising baton to the next generation.
Children help their parents set up a Friends of Plan advocacy stand at Sunday in the Park in Canberra in the 1980s
Long term member Ralph Boldra summed up the experience, saying “We’ve had a lot of fun and we know we’ve been doing some good in the world.”
Friends of Plan Canberra started in the late 1970s, when a network of colleagues, friends and acquaintances united in their ambition to create real, lasting change for children. Many of the Friends had continental European history and were inspired by the impact Plan International had made in their communities after the devastation of WW2.
The group received reports on the projects they supported, so they could see the impact they were making. “We were sure that [the funds] were most effectively used,” says Ralph.
“Plan International were working with the communities and I saw that as giving power back to the communities we were supporting.”
After so many years in the business of raising awareness and funds to support Plan International’s work in communities around the world, Friends of Plan were happy to share the secrets of their success with other Plan International supporters. Now that Friends of Plan Canberra have held their last fundraiser as a group, they hope the following tips inspire others to follow their lead.
Friends of Plan Canberra at their 2019 Farewell Dinner
Think BIG – ask people with a high public profile to promote your campaign
Friends of Plan invited high profile politicians such as Don Chipp (former leader of the Australian Democrats), Bob McMullan (former Labor minister) and Members of Parliament from all sides of politics to lead their fundraising Cycle Challenge in the early 1980s. Pat Boldra recalled how the presence of MPsled to great TV coverage of their event.
To maximise media coverage, set up a quirky or ‘good news’ story
“The press are into good stories,” says Ralph, who experienced this first hand when Canberra students raised money for Plan International by holding a race across Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. The winner of the race was the first to push a coin across the bridge using only their nose. “They got a lot of press!” he laughs.
Create an atmosphere of fun at events and meetings
Friends of Plan raised thousands of dollars by holding ticketed dinners. “You would not believe how generous people are and how much fun they are willing to have doing it.” says Ralph.
Friends of Plan dinners included an auction of donated items. The couple recall how a very bald MP successfully bid for a $50 for a haircut, while others bid and secured coveted items such as a $20 note and a bunch of rhubarb.
Pauline Lyngå at a 1995 Vietnamese Picnic, raising awareness about Plan International’s work
Go with your strengths – align your activities with your abilities
Founding member of Friends of Plan, Pauline Lyngå, was a professional weaver. The group conceived the idea of an annual Art and Craft Exhibition, so that Pauline and other weavers in her network could sell their art to raise money for Plan International’s work. Other members of Friends of Plan contributed their art and organisational skills to ensure the events were a success.
“The Arts and Crafts shows earned between $1500 - $3000! We held them annually for several years.” Says Ralph.
Although the members of Friends of Plan have recently retired their community fundraising and advocacy work, the individuals themselves continue to support Plan International’s projects in their own ways. Ralph and Pat Boldra currently sponsor two children: Rasmane in Burkina Faso and Kanruethai in Thailand. They are also keen to support events held by Plan International at Parliament House and around Canberra.
Pauline Lyngå sadly passed away almost 10 years ago, but her compassionate nature lives on in the legacy she left to Plan International in her will. This special gift has supported thousands of children to learn and thrive in vulnerable communities. Her husband and fellow Friends of Plan member, Gösta, continues to sponsor children in Burkina Faso and Cambodia.
On behalf of everyone at Plan International, thank you to the members of Friends of Plan for everything you have achieved over the last 40 years. Your hard work and dedication has had a profound and positive impact for children around the world. We’re so excited to see the next generation of community fundraisers take your fundraising tips and make them their own.
Pat and Ralph Boldra at a 2009 Trash and Treasure event raising funds for Plan International’s projects