When Christopher Wilson speaks about his work for Water and Healthcare (WAH) Foundation, it’s with such earnestness one inevitably wants to tell him, “Take my money.” WAH was co-founded by Wilson in 2009 to provide clean water and healthcare to rural communities in Kampong Chhnang province in Cambodia.
But as this former private banker says: “Fundraising is never easy.” So here’s his approach: “I explain the work we do from the heart, giving examples of impact that were achieved and how we can change lives through well thought-out solutions on the ground. Our donors are mostly friends and by referral.”
The numbers reflect how well his approach works. Take WAH’s recent fundraising dinner in May, which aimed to sponsor 500 cataract operations in Cambodia.
Wilson called Savour, organiser of the Gucci Osteria de Massimo Bottura pop-up in Singapore, to discuss a complimentary dinner. It turned out Savour was considering a corporate social responsibility project and offered Wilson 70 seats at the otherwise sold-out affair.
To attract donor interest, Wilson asked two young talents from Virtuosos — a Hungarian classical music talent show for children, where he serves as an advisor — to perform. Virtuosos covered the cost of the air tickets for the youths and their mother, and all three stayed at Wilson’s residence. He also enlisted the help of his friend, Japanese mezzo soprano Seia Lee, to perform with them.
For the public, dinner (without drinks) costs $278++ per person, which adds up to $22,904 for 70 persons. Wilson sold six tables for this fundraiser, each of which went for $15,000.
The evening brought in $90,000 from the dinner alone, but other donations brought the total sum raised to $200,000. This was quite a feat considering the scale of the event.
“We raised $7,000 separately to offset costs for the wine and rental piano and to pay for the waiters and valet, all at massively subsidised rates,” says Wilson.
“Part of the donations were used to carry out 500 eye operations over three days in June, in collaboration with eye doctors from A New Vision in Nepal,” he says.
The rest of the funds will be used to support medical training programmes, which has helped bring down maternal mortality rates by 70 per cent over the past five years. It will also go towards funding girls’ education and to the construction of water filtration systems, which can last up to 15 years. It will also cover the foundation’s running costs for at least a year.
“And for me, just seeing how the people danced with joy after regaining their vision is the best thing that I can take back,” Wilson adds.
This story first appeared in the July issue of A.