Michelle Dunphy is the current Development Director for Brighter Tanzania Foundation. She’s a mom of two young boys who keep her very busy. She enjoys running (slowly!), politics, reading, board games, gardening and learning to play the ukulele. When she’s not doing Brighter Tanzania work, she’s probably geeking out over a new flower she wants to plant, playing a board game with her kids, or trying to finally get the hang of singing and playing uke at the same time.
How did you get involved with Brighter Tanzania?
I came on board with BTF back in January right before moving back home to Wisconsin. I was looking for something that would challenge me and an organization where I could make an impact. Brighter Tanzania definitely fit the bill! It has been nice spending my time dedicated to this cause. Being a smaller organization definitely has its frustrations, but these kids are just too adorable and they deserve a great start in life via education. I sponsor one of our students, Shedrack, who was recently featured in our Foundations for the Future video and learning what attending Saving Grace school has done for him brings tears to my eyes every time I think about it. We can do so much there, even as a small organization. Think of what we can do as we continue to grow!
What is the most difficult or challenging part of your job?
I think the hardest part so far has been being a small organization. We are able to make a huge impact with so little, but it’d be nice to have more donor and sponsor engagement. If there is something you’d like to see us doing, let me know. We are definitely open to donor suggestions!
What’s your personal philosophy on what should be done about poverty?
I think we have a moral obligation as one of the wealthiest nations in the world to help out those in need. It’s what my mother taught me - if you’re lucky enough to be able to help, then do it. And help doesn’t mean you have to be one of the wealthiest in this wealthy nation of ours. Doing something as simple as skipping a night out for dinner or your drive through Starbucks and instead donating that money to an organization such as Brighter Tanzania--think of the changes we could make if we all did that! $5 here in the US means a lot more back in Tanzania. Your coffee could be books and supplies for a few students or your dinner could be the utility bills for the month.
What is your greatest accomplishment at BTF?
Well, I’ve only been here for a little while, but I am proud of the virtual Cheetah Challenge 5k and am really looking forward to hearing about everyone’s runs! We had such great event prize donors and the energy we’ve received from our participants has been fantastic. I love that it has really helped to open people’s eyes to the struggles of children in Tanzania.
What sort of projects have you worked on in the past?
My non-profit past project is fundraising for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I have run two RunDisney challenges (19.3 miles in one weekend) for Team AFSP and fundraised over $5,000. I’ve done all sorts of things to fundraise including an eBay auction of autographed merchandise from voice actors, a virtual 5k (sound familiar?), a voice mail from voice actors raffle, etc. When I lived in Los Angeles and Seattle, I used to be a voice actor so I have lots of wonderful talented friends who donated their time to my fundraising for AFSP.
What’s one major accomplishment you’d like to see BTF achieve in the next year?
I’ve been so impressed with what the team has been able to accomplish in just three years, to go from a handful of students to over 70! I would like to see us reach our goal with “Foundations for the Future.” I cannot wait until we get our own acreage and building up so we can help even more. We are changing lives. These children now have a future that was previously unattainable. The teachers are employed. The supplies and money we spend is spent in the community, furthering the positive impact the school is making to all. I really hope you’ll join me in supporting the Foundations for the Future campaign over on Razoo. We have the power to change lives with just a few clicks. Let’s do it.