Those of you who are relatively new to us might have noticed that our model of donation support is somewhat different from the traditional one. Indeed, we had started off with the traditional model, but over time, it became clear to us that we wanted something better. Instead of donations directly from one donor to one student, we created a model called The Freedom Chapter–a gathering of motivated donors supporting a cohort of students. Here’s why we made the switch.
The Origins of The Freedom Chapter
When our founder Rachel Sparks decided to give a scholarship to support our first student, Cat, in her education, our organization grew organically out of that first example–a one on one relationship between a donor and a child at-risk. This has led to blossoming and vital relationships, and has spurred so much growth, change and positivity for the communities in which we work. Our students have often expressed how these scholarships have literally changed their lives and their dreams for the future.
However, over the years, we observed things that caused us concern that the 1-1 model might not fully align with our values. Our concerns included things such as the jealousy that sometimes arises between students when one sponsor writes and another does not, or deficits to the organization when sponsors drop off or miss payments. These kinds of circumstances are natural in an operation of this kind, and we didn’t wish to downplay the beautiful and rewarding connection that personal touches like letters can inspire. But we felt there had to be a way we could improve the experience for both our students and our donors.
A New Model
To that end, we moved away from the 1-1 model we had been using and moved to a cohort model called The Freedom Chapter. In this model, a group of sponsors pools together to support a cohort of students. Each student in a Freedom Chapter receives financial support to attend school. This comes directly from your monthly contributions, allowing us to commit to financing scholarships for students. Your donation also goes towards the resources necessary to help those students succeed in school such as access to our resource centers, counseling programs, mentoring relationships, income generation for parents and human rights trainings. 100% of your donation goes to working on the ground in at-risk communities in Northern Thailand. None of your donation is used for overhead, ensuring you give with confidence that your gift is directly impacting the life of a student.
We developed this model to allow you as a sponsor to still interact with and communicate with our students, and know fully where and how your donation is being used, while creating a more stable support model as a network of donors supports a group of students. Communications from donors address the entire group, and if a sponsor needs to drop off due to life circumstances like the loss of a job, the impact on the students is not felt as heavily.
As Thailand is a very communal culture, we feel this sends a message of more equitable and reliable support to our students. The new model includes other benefits like a calendar made by the students, regular updates, and exclusive access to impact stories.
The Freedom Story’s chapters are a growing community of 217 people dedicated to giving effectively to prevent child trafficking and exploitation at the source. This amazing support has seen our students through incredibly tough times…including a pandemic that has nonetheless impacted our donors too. Yet their commitment remains steadfast, and we are forever grateful.
If you want to learn more about how The Freedom Chapters work, and read answers to some FAQs, just follow the link here.