Helping Bangladesh: Agami Fundraiser
A Bangladeshi nonprofit raised $22,000 at a fundraiser to support projects in the old country.
A Siliconeer report.
(Above): Agami volunteer Sophia Rahman
The Bangladeshi nonprofit Agami raised around $22,000 at a fundraiser July 27 in Fremont, Calif. Those who attended were not only Bangladeshis but also people from other countries, mostly South Asians.
Organizers ran a tight ship, with Agami volunteers making refreshingly brief, pithy speeches talking in some detail about Agami’s recent activities and projects.
From a relatively modest beginning in 2003, when it funded a single project with $1,500, Agami has grown considerably. In 2008 alone, it has disbursed over $55,000 for 15 projects including victims of Cyclone Sidr.
“Our final goal is to create a self-sustaining entity, be it a village, town, etc,” according to the Agami Web site. “The measure of success will be whether the village can become self-sufficient to the point where it no longer needs any funds from us. To that end, we wish to partner with other organizations so that together we may create a holistic solution. This solution should encompass public health, nutrition, economic self-sufficiency and education. These areas may overlap to a degree. For example, education may include some vocational training, which can help lead one to economic independence.”
The organization takes prides in some of its unique attributes. Firstly, it has zero overhead cost. Every cent raised goes to its projects in Bangladesh. All administrative costs are borne by volunteers.
It is also an avowedly nonpartisan, non sectarian organization.
Agami did not contribute to the Bangladesh government or Red Crescent (most expatriate Bangladeshi donations were channeled through these routes), because, it wanted to ensure better control and visibility of where and how the fund is utilized.
The organization also takes pride in its openness and transparency. It has a clearly enunciated policy for evaluating and accepting projects and welcomes suggestions for projects to support. New volunteers are welcome, but a degree of time commitment is expected.
Organizers say its donation base is growing across the United States and is not limited to the San Francisco Bay Area any more. There is strong interest in the second generation and non-Bangladeshis in Agami activities, another development that gives Agami volunteers much satisfaction.
Interested readers can find more information on Agami at their Web site: www.agami-us.org.