The Shin Fujiyama Podcast | Social Entrepreneurship | Nonprofit Organizations | International Development Aid | NGOs

Shin Fujiyama is a CNN Hero and the Executive Director of Students Helping Honduras. He lives with 30 former street children in Honduras where he runs a school and international NGO out of a tree house. In each episode Shin will be interviewing a proven social entrepreneur or NGO leader in the nonprofit or international development aid industry-- including several CNN Heroes and bestselling authors. They’re going to deconstruct their journey to explain HOW they built up their organizations. They’ll also tell us about their greatest failures, lessons, regrets, and behind-the-scenes realities. We’ll talk about their tactics, philosophies, principles, tools, and motivations to give you inspiration and actionable advice. 1) Subscribe to this podcast. 2) Turn on automatic downloads. 3) Leave me a review. 4.) Enjoy every new interview for FREE during your commute or workout.
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The Shin Fujiyama Podcast | Social Entrepreneurship | Nonprofit Organizations | International Development Aid | NGOs



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Now displaying: November, 2016
Nov 29, 2016

Social entrepreneur Gavin Armstrong is the founder of Lucky Iron Fish, a social business and B-Corp aiming to combat iron deficiency. Nearly 3.5 billion people around the world suffer from iron deficiency or anemia, resulting in constant fatigue, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating at school or at work. The Iron Lucky Fish is a piece of iron cast in the shape of a fish. When boiled with food or broth, it releases enough iron to provide up to 90% of the daily necessary intake.

Turning this simple idea into reality was no easy task. Gavin started the B-Corp in Cambodia while simultaneously pursuing a PhD. He went for years without a salary. He made mistake after mistake and things didn't work out as planned. Yet Gavin kept tinkering and iterating.

The Lucky Iron Fish is a global phenomena now. Gavin was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for social entrepreneurship.

Many people in the developed world also suffer from iron deficiency. You can buy a Lucky Iron Fish ($25) for yourself and the company will give one to a person in need. The Lucky Iron Fish is a great holiday gift for friends and family.


Show Links for Gavin Armstrong

Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus

Gavin’s experience during college volunteering at a refugee camp in Kenya made him want to fight world hunger

Researcher Christopher Charles had a project called Happy Fish that sparked Gavin’s interest. The original thesis paper can be found here.

Chris abandoned the research project

Gavin continued Chris’s research in Cambodia

Cambodia has an extremely high level of iron deficiency due to nutritional and genetic factors

Iron deficiency is the world’s most common micro-nutrient challenge

Half of the world’s population suffers from this preventable condition

Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, and even death

Iron deficiency leads to a loss of $70 billion to the world’s GDP

Women, especially, suffer from iron deficiency

Iron deficiency does not discriminate between the poor and the rich

Iron supplements have negative side effects and are expensive

Gavin pursued a PhD in Canada revolving around this project while starting the company in Cambodia

He spent many days on airplanes

The lucky iron fish is a simple health innovation product

You boil the piece of iron with the food for 10 minutes, which releases iron into the meal

The iron is reusable for 5 years

The lucky iron fish doesn’t change the food’s color or taste

The product is in the shape of a fish because the fish is the symbol of luck in Cambodia

The Lucky Iron Fish received $180,000 from the university to start the company

“We were very lean in the beginning.”

Gavin worked with a foundry in Cambodia to make cast iron material that met international specifications

Gavin made sure the iron was safe, bio-available, and contaminate-free

Much of the iron in Cambodia was contaminated by arsenic

They made the prototypes out of wood and approach local focus groups in rural communities to get their feedback

Rapid prototyping was key

Gavin went to all the focus group meetings

He observed people’s facial expressions

The fish’s surface area was important to be able to release the right quantity of iron per use

The Cambodians called the prototype models the “Heavy Black Fish”

Gavin wanted to brand the product better so he stamped the front of the face with the Cambodian symbol that means “good” and people began calling it the “Good Fish”

The smile of the fish is designed so that after five years, it fades away… so when the smile fades away, the families know they need to trade it in

Lucky Iron Fish is a top ranked B-Corps and not a nonprofit organization

B-Corps (Benefit Corporations) is an international certification given to social enterprises that make a social impact

Gavin was frustrated by the sustainability of nonprofit organizations, which are unable to get investments like for-profit companies

Understanding the distribution model was a major challenge

There was no established trust with the communities in the beginning

They tried a travelling road show, which didn’t work

They pivoted their model to sell the product to NGOs in the area that already had built up trust with the target communities

The NGOs are the front-line workers for the Lucky Iron Fish

These NGOs were already buying iron supplement pills, and these pills were much more expensive than the pills

The purchase price of the Lucky Iron Fish ranges from $5-$10 for NGOs

The iron pills can cost $30 per person per year

The NGOs are in charge of the distribution

They use a tuk tuk

Lucky Iron Fish has an eight-person team

Cash flow becomes critical so you can pay your staff members each month

Two big challenges Gavin had to overcome were obstacles with the Cambodian government and funding

During a low point with his work, the BBC ran a story on Lucky Iron Fish that went viral

Oprah said that Lucky Iron Fish was “off the hook”

“Success can be temporary. Failure can last a lot longer” Gavin’s outlook on humility

The families are usually concerned whether Lucky Iron Fish will affect the taste of the food

Gavin has faced criticism because of his age or sexual orientation

“The only thing you can do is to prove them wrong.” Gavin on critics

People can buy a Lucky Iron Fish and give one in the Buy One Give One model

Gavin feels very well-versed at trial and error and especially the error part

Gavin though the travelling road show was going to be a huge hit but it did not work out because he didn’t understand the market at the time

Lucky Iron Fish is expanding to India

Gavin loves going back out into the field in Cambodia to get reinvigorated and not get caught up in the mundane tasks ahead

Gavin’s favorite Cambodian food is spicy peanut chicken curry

Gavin takes time for himself to unwind. Exercising, cooking.

Gavin loved his mother’s cooking and he often helped out

Gavin didn’t earn a salary during the first few years of starting Lucky Iron Fish

“Never forget the power of one person and their ripple effect.”

Gavin feels a bit of imposter syndrome despite all of his success

He remembers the times that haven’t been easy and so is mindful of the importance of the team

Gavin is grateful for his entire team and recently he hosted a team retreat

Nov 22, 2016

Growing up as a child of Korean immigrant parents, Robert Lee experienced hunger first hand. There were times where all his family could afford was instant ramen.

While studying at NYU's Stern School of Business, he joined a campus organization that delivered leftover cafeteria food to local homeless shelters. It was there that Robert learned that one in six Americans struggle with food insecurity. Yet strangely, 40% of food in the US goes to waste.

After graduating, he worked for JP Morgan where the pay was high. Simultaneously, he started the nonprofit organization Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and ran it during the weekends and evenings. As a social entrepreneur, Robert worked doggedly. “If something is important to you, you make time. And you do it," he said.

Eventually, he quit JP Morgan so he could work for Rescuing Leftover Cuisine full time. People discouraged him, thinking he would regret leaving such a lucrative job. Yet he persisted: “I had this crazy belief that I was right and everyone else was wrong.”

At first, the NGO had very little resources and faced rejection after rejection when speaking to the local restaurants.  Robert was full of self-doubt. “I wasn’t sure if I was the right person to be leading the organization,” he said of his early days. Only five out of a hundred restaurants were willing to donate their leftover food. Yet after each rejection, Robert Lee repeated a mantra to himself: "For every no that you get, you’re one step closer to a yes.”

Robert Lee's original vision was to end food waste in New York City. Soon, the movement spread to 12 cities and the NGO is on track to deliver its millionth pound of leftover food to the hungry. Rescuing Leftover Cuisine works with partner food providers and matches them with local volunteers that carry leftover food to local homeless shelters and food kitchens. Nearly 200 cities want to start a chapter of the organization, and it's only a matter of time that Robert Lee will accomplish that.

In 2015, Robert Lee was named a CNN Hero.


Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children by John Wood

Show Notes

Robert Lee’s parents immigrated to the US from South Korea

They grew up poor and sometimes could only afford to eat ramen

His family never tolerated food waste

Robert went to NYU on a full scholarship

At NYU he joined a club (Two Birds With One Stone) that delivered leftover food from the cafeteria to a local homeless shelter

When he joined the club, Robert entered with curiosity

As a freshman he wanted to expand the outreach for the club

40% of the food we produce in the US goes to waste!

We produce enough food to feed everyone in the world

Global hunger is a matter of distribution

Much of land and water is used to produce food, so all that is going to waste

Food waste produces methane gas

Food waste ranks third globally in terms of carbon emissions from food waste

Restaurants are concerned about getting sued for donating food that gets people sick

Research shows that it is extremely unlikely for a business to get sued for donating food

Robert Lee worked for JP Morgan for about a year after graduating from NYU

He wanted financial stability

Robert worked on Rescuing Leftover Cuisine part-time while working at JP Morgan

Robert figured out a way to automate a lot of the delivery process through technology

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine has a tiered volunteer model

In 2013 they won $1,000 in seed money on campus to start Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

“You never have time. You make time.”

“If something is important to you, you make time. And you do it.”

200 cities wanted to start a chapter of Rescuing Leftover Cuising after the CNN Heroes coverage

They have chapters in 12 cities at the moment

Sustainable and organic growth is more important

Food waste and hunger are caused by distribution problems

Initially, they had too many restaurants partnering and not enough volunteers to transport the food

Robert Lee helped hand deliver the food himself during the startup phase

A trained lead rescuer leads the volunteer groups

A corp rescuer with a license manages all of the trained leaders

Volunteers are ordinary citizens wanting to make a difference

During Thanksgiving in 2015, they brought turkeys to a homeless shelter that had ran out of food

“There should be more individualized definitions of success.”

People told Robert that he was throwing out his degree from NYU Stern for entering the nonprofit world

He was gung-ho and according to Robert himself, somewhat delusional when he started

“I had this crazy belief that I was right and everyone else was wrong.”

“I wasn’t sure if I was the right person to be leading the organization.”
Robert lacked confidence, charisma, and persona when he first started

In the beginning, only 5% of the restaurants he approached to seek out partnerships accepted

Robert talks about his mistakes in the past, like being too aggressive and outright rude to some of the restaurants that rejected a partnership.

“My passion pushed me through all of the rejections.”

Robert worked as the pickup driver, loader, salesperson, everything!

“For every no that you get, you’re one step closer to a yes.”

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine receive grant funding from JP Morgan, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Clif Bar

They focused on corporate funding

Two of his main colleagues at Rescuing Leftover Cuisine were friends from NYU

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses Heroku and CircleCI for their website

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses Trello for project management

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses Slack for team communication

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses Salesforce for their CRM and email marketing

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses Google Ad words

To Robert, nonprofit organizations are like two separate businesses: one that fundraises and the other that creates impact

Unlike for-profit companies, a nonprofit cannot simply provide a great product or service. They have to market it and fundraise to survive

Earned revenue is critical for nonprofits nowadays

Restaurants pay Rescuing Leftover Cuisine to take the leftover food because the restaurants 1.) get huge tax deductions 2.) have to pay a hauler anyways to pick up the leftover food 3.) want brand association with RLC

The hauling industry is not transparent at all about prices

They charge 10-20% of what a hauling company would normally charge

At one point Robert was at an all-time low when funding was drying up and he started to feel like what he was doing was just a bandaid solution

Instead of trying to address hunger, RLC decided to focus on food waste

Robert Lee misses meeting the volunteers and doing the pickups like in the old days

As a social entrepreneur not making much money, you must create a personal budget and works towards gaining more earned revenue

Robert does not waste time in the morning so he can use his fresh mind’s energy towards his three most important tasks for the day

For Robert Lee “Sleep is the best medicine” to fight burnout

Robert Lee enjoys hiking and kayaking

Robert Lee is afraid of growing too quickly

It was difficult for his parents to see Robert leave JP Morgan because they had sacrificed everything for his future

His parents were one of the first donors for RLC!!

Nov 17, 2016
Social entrepreneur Nedgine Paul immigrated from Haiti to the US at a young age. After graduating from Yale, she received her masters of education at Harvard University. She gained valuable experience working for the prominent charter school network known as Achievement First and then working for Dr. Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health in Haiti. Shortly after, Nedgine Paul started the nonprofit organization, Anseye Pou Ayiti (Teach for Haiti).
The NGO recruits and trains local Haitians and sends them out to teach in some of the toughest and most rural schools in Haiti. In a country where she must battle constant blackouts, natural disasters, and the fact that only 30% of children pass primary school, she is fighting against all the odds in her quest to create a new narrative for her home country.
Nedgine Paul is an Echoing Green Fellow and was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Show Notes 

“Growing up, I was the child who loved school. I was obsessed.”

Coming from Haiti, snow days were confusing for Nedgine Paul

Nedgine’s father was a school teacher before he became a priest

“It’s not enough to just take in knowledge. It’s about using it to do good.”

Nedgine worked at Achievement First Public Charter School Network for three years

“Zip code is not destiny.”

Social justice was important to Achievement First

Continuous improvement was important for the staff at Achievement First, a trait that Nedgine has taken to Haiti

People really asked for the HOW and the WHY at Achievement First

“Who are you as a leader and how do you show up?”

Nedgine Paul was active in the Haitian American community during her youth

“I want to create and contribute to a new narrative of our mighty nation.”

Her father is one of Nedgine’s north stars

The power of “one person’s quest” as a story

The organizational culture at Partners in Health is: doing whatever it takes, being local rooted and locally informed

PIH has maintained credibility and legitimacy for decades through authenticity

AT PIH it’s not about working for or with a community. It’s about being “of” the community. Nedgine hopes to bring that culture to Anseye Pou Ayiti

Staff members at Anseye Pou Ayiti spent years getting to know their communities in the beginning

PIH maintained their roots and knew how to improve from criticism

“Scale in global education has become about numbers and not about depth.”

“It’s not about scale in numbers but in depth.”

It took Nedgine and her team four years of planning before launching, talking to community members

Their approach was to be “slow and steady”

“As the Millennial generation, we want to rush to the next best thing, the next bright thing, the next thing that will go viral.”

It’s time to pause and listen, especially to our elders

“Why do we think that everything in Haiti’s educational system is broken?”

They asked for a assets instead of deficits in their communities

Before launching, Nedgine worked on Anseye Pou Ayiti part-time, during nights and weekends

Echoing Green’s fellowship and funding allowed Nedgine to pursue Anseye Pou Ayiti full time.

Nedgine Paul questioned herself a lot in the beginning

Nedgine Paul had a “brain-trust” of allies

“We have to be solvers AND learners at the same time.”

All the operational stuff was really difficult for Nedgine, coming in as an educator and not as a manager

Nedgine was told at Echoing Green that “Failure is okay in social entrepreneurship”

Many social entrepreneurs struggle with fundraising during year one

Anseye Pou Ayiti is part of the Teach for All network

Teach for All operates in 40 different countries now

Anseye Pou Ayiti is recruiting and training LOCAL teachers

Anseye Pou Ayiti went on a national recruitment campaign

Current teachers could apply at first, and now they make up a majority of the corps members

“The best is yet to come.”

Anseye Pou Ayiti has a mixed cohort approach

Corps members get leadership training and additional stipend (paid by Anseye Pou Ayiti) beyond their regular salaries (paid by the local schools)

Only 30% of children in Haiti are passing primary school

Her team was “lean and mean” in the beginning

Staying up late was critical

They did not want to be just “marginally different” than everything else

Anseye Pou Ayiti leverages partners that can provide specific teacher training workshops

Their training sessions are held in rural Haiti where logistics are “hairy” but it allows them to live their values

Past corps members come back to help with training

Blackouts are challenging

Not having a Staples in the area makes it hard to just go out and buy supplies when needed

Co-founder Ivanley Noisette and Nedgine are able to listen to and criticize each other

Nedgine’s students keep her ego in check

“The elders must be brought back into the conversation.”

Getting fellowships is a great fundraising strategy

In terms of fundraising, ask yourselves who would care about your cause

For Nedgine, giving gratitude is important

She asks herself, what went well today?

Funding was not going as well as Nedgine wanted it to recently, so she had to reach out for help

That moment of crises reminded her to be more humble, and to more willing to reach out for help

Nedgine gives thank to her professor, Dr. Lillian Guerra, who encouraged her to keep going

Nedgine is worried about the negative narrative of Haiti  

Nedgine loves hearing about the progress inside the classrooms of her fellows

Nedgine recommends books: Visions of Vocation and also anything written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Nov 14, 2016
Today's guest is the person who I spend the most time with (even more than my mom) over the phone/email during any given week. She is also one of my best friends.
In this episode, Amanda Fennell talks about getting adopted from an orphanage in Colombia, childhood in America, how she dealt with her "ugly duckling" years, the tragic loss that devastated her family, her first (tumultuous) exposure to leadership where she was called "awful", favorite books, what she REALLY thinks of me as her boss, what was going through her mind during her first trip to Honduras, how she raised $125,000 while in college, why she quit a high-paying "dream job" to help SHH, what it's really like having a location-independent work arrangement, her newest side-hustle, and more.
As COO of an organization with an annual budget of almost $1 million and network of 5,000+ volunteers, Amanda does it all: answering phone calls & emails, updating our website & social media, coordinating the efforts of 100+ chapters, securing new partnerships, and more.
She was the co-founder of the Students Helping Honduras chapter at Towson University, leading the efforts to raise a record-breaking $125,000 in four years while a student. She also served as Student Director her senior year, organizing the efforts of the then 50+ chapters of the organization nationwide.
Check out her newest side-hustle known as Bear Street Collective, a succulent arrangement business! 

Show Links

Show Notes

Amanda Fennell was adopted from an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia in 1990

It was around the time of guerrilla warfare, and the orphanage had bomb nets over them, and military was everywhere

Amanda Fennell grew up in New York

Amanda wants to adopt one day

She wants to visit Colombia, her birthplace, but is unsure of when and the circumstances of her situation, and facing her fears

Amanda feels a tremendous amount of gratitude for her situation

Amanda's sister, Lauren, was adopted from the same orphanage four years before Amanda was adopted

Lauren was Amanda's very first friend

She doesn't remember when she found out or realized she was adopted

Lauren was killed by a drunk driver when Amanda was a senior in high school

Amanda has a tattoo of Lauren's fingerprint together with her own fingerprint to format a heart shape

She was bullied a lot in middle school because she was outcasted as a "church kid"

Her "ugly duckling phase" lasted a while, especially since she went into college with braces

I use the word antifragile to describe Amanda Fennell

She has always been resilient and "overly" optimistic

Amanda thrives on stress and a sense of urgency

Amanda decided to attend Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland because of their strong nursing program

She wanted to be a pediatrician back then

Because of the loss of her sister, Amanda almost didn't attend college

Instead of wallowing in sadness, Amanda enrolled at Towson

In a strange way, going to college allowed Amanda to "run away" from her trauma

She wanted nothing to do with the medical field due to the loss of her sister, so Amanda majored in Family Studies and Community Development

She searched for student clubs to join.

Joining Invisible Children club was intimidating for Amanda because it was for the "cool" crowd

She then joined Circle-K service club

She ran for President as a freshman!

Amanda met two of her best friends, Kari Adlington and Jessa Coulter, during freshman year

The Circle-K initiatives were too small and low-key for Amanda, who wanted to do more

Amanda (along with Keri and Jessa) and I met at a Circle-K Convention where I gave a keynote speech

Amanda thinks that I am quirky!!! LOL

When Amanda wanted her Circle-K club to get involved with SHH, she was labeled “awful” and as the “worst President”

Leaving Circle-K to start Students Helping Honduras on campus caused rifts in friendships and personal hate against Amanda

Honduras was Amanda’s first trip outside of the US

She didn’t realize the SHH service trip would have so much of an educational component to it

Amanda met and talked to the families in Villa Soleada when the project had just started

SHH introduced Amanda to concepts like the ethics behind development aid

She helped build the Villa Soleada Education Center, which was the prototype project that later turned into the Villa Soleada Bilingual School

Eduardo “Chilo,” a small boy from the village spoke to the group to thank them for providing the education

The Education Center would provide Chilo his first books and computers ever

Amanda is careful about over-romanticizing development aid and volunteering

“I was so idealistic and naive.”

It was difficult to convince the Towson administration to let the chapter go down to Honduras, then considered the most dangerous nation outside of war zones

Dr. Santiago Solis helped as a faculty advisor and mentor to Amanda

The Towson Chapter raised $13,000 during their first year

They then returned to Honduras with 33 student volunteers

The following year they raised $30,000

During Amanda’s senior year, the chapter raised $53,000

In four years, the Towson Chapter had raised about $125,000 for Students Helping Honduras

Jessa Coulter was the co-President of the chapter alongside Amanda

They didn’t have much of a hierarchy

The chapter members became best friends

Some members spent more time on SHH than on school work

They organized 3-4 events every week

Each semester they did one massive event, like a benefit concert

Having compassionate, empathetic leadership is key

Fundraising was fun despite the sense of urgency

A lot of other chapters envied Towson and Amanda’s success

Leadership Week has fostered competition while building friendships between SHH chapters

Amanda became a community director for March of Dimes after graduation

She posted photos from Honduras all over her desk area at March of Dimes

Amanda was always interested in international maternal and prenatal health

I reached out to Amanda for help, as SHH was under so much stress due to lack of staff members and security threats in Honduras

Amanda saved up for a year working at March of Dimes and quit there to work for SHH on a shoestring salary as the Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Amanda feels really lonely while working out of her laptop in New York

At around 11:30pm one night—I was on the brink of shutting down SHH because of all the turmoil in Honduras and its consequences—I called Amanda to ask her for help and to join SHH

Amanda and I consult each other on everything just naturally, going all in together

Humility is something Amanda and I value in staff members

I needed someone to support me

Amanda doesn’t like being placed on a pedestal

Amanda is as loyal as it gets

At Towson, Amanda had a sense of community and personal success

It’s hard for Amanda to not have that sense of community as she works alone in New York

Amanda’s boyfriend Chris is supportive of her, always

Amanda’s best friends are mostly from SHH, though many of them are far away

Amanda is a social butterfly so it’s hard to work alone for her

“The work day is never over."

She’s learned to pace herself, delegate, avoid burnout

SHH could use some help with grant writing, social media, chapter recruitment

People are much more motivated when they can work face to face, instead of remotely and isolated

There is no reason to constantly second guessing herself as the COO of SHH with all the trust that I have in Amanda

Amanda has to remind herself that there is value in what she does for SHH

Amanda and Chris have started a succulent arrangement business on the side, BEAR STREET COLLECTIVE

The succulent business allows Amanda to interact with other people, something she missed doing

Jessa Coulter and Amanda Fennell are like the Yin and the Yang together

Amanda Fennell drinks a lot of coffee!

Amana is a night owl, working late into the night

She likes being “zesty” with life : )

The person Amanda Fennell was most grateful for that week was her boyfriend Chris

They recently visited Denver, Colorado together

Nov 7, 2016

While studying at the University of Maryland, Melissa Frankenberry raised more than $30,000 for Students Helping Honduras. In this episode, she breaks down her process step-by-step and talks about facing her own fears when making the ask.

Show notes for Melissa Frankenberry

  • Melissa Frankenberry first heard about SHH at UMD’s First Look Fair where 500+ clubs on campus try to recruit members
  • She was actually looking for Habitat for Humanity and instead joined SHH!
  • She knew very little about Honduras
  • She remembers the upperclassmen members like Nahal, Kristin, Peter, Brandon
  • Melissa still remembers the first meeting still
  • She volunteered in Honduras four times while at UMD
  • Honduras was Melissa’s first exposure to a developing country
  • She worked at Balsamo village during her freshman and senior year
  • She worked hard selling grilled cheese in front of bars during weekends
  • Melissa used to create an online fundraising page
  • “It’s really scary asking people for money.”
  • The first thing she did was craft a long email message to her family and friends
  • She sent it out to her immediate circle
  • It wasn’t as bad as she had imagined
  • Her father’s business clients got involved and donated
  • She customized the messages of each letter to personalize them
  • Photos and videos were critical
  • At first she wrote it “straight from the heart” but it ended up being too long
  • She placed the link to her fundraising page at the very beginning of the letter and not at the end
  • The subject line of the emails was important. For example, saying Students Helping Honduras instead of SHH was helpful
  • Follow up phone calls and emails after each campaign was critical
  • There is a Fundaround “hack” that Melissa did. She used a photo collage for each of the photo boxes, to increase the number of total photos she could post!
  • Showing your passion is critical for fundraising success
  • “Don’t just half-ass on the fundraising.” -Melissa Frankenberry
  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for donations. People want to help.” -Melissa Frankenberry
Nov 3, 2016
Want to learn how to raise money for your favorite charity by traveling across a continent on a bicycle?Long-time Students Helping Honduras support Cristy Falcone biked 2,200 miles through Europe for SHH. On her daring expedition from Oslo to Paris, she got lost, stuck in rain storms, slept in her tent, and faced gear malfunction. At one point, she crashed and injured herself badly.
Cristy Falcone pedaled 50 miles (5-7 hours) nearly every single day for the cause.
Learn how she physically trained herself, learned to fix & maintain her bicycle, got the right equipment, packed, stayed fueled, slept, and built up her fundraising platform. Get an understanding of where your mind will be before, during, and after such an epic feat.
Check out Cristy Falcone’s Bike For Honduras.

Show Notes & Summary for Cristy Falcone

Ever since Cristy Falcone was a little girl, she wanted to go places on a bicycle with a sleeping bag

According to Cristy, I was an enthusiastic and energetic guy back in college

She had done one previous grand tour, going 1,800 miles from Seattle to San Diego

Her touring pace is about 12 miles an hour

Her plan was to do 45-50 miles per day!

Scandinavia was the hardest part of the trip for Cristy

She used the Kona Sutra touring bike

You must use a touring bike that puts your body in a comfortable position

Most touring bicycles cost $500+

She worked at Bike Works , a bicycle shop in Fredericksburg during her senior year in college where she learned the basics of bicycle maintenance

At the least you should know how to change your tires, fix a flat tire, adjust your brakes, adjust de-railers, and fix your gears

You can get panniers and strap them on the sides of your bicycles to store your stuff

Backpacks are not recommended because it makes your back sweat

She carried 25-30lbs of gear (food, water, sleeping bag, tent)

She went on an unsupported tour where she had to carry all her stuff with her!

“You basically carry your life with you."

Cycling maps are essential

GPS systems for bicycles can cost $400-$500!!

She set up a Facebook page and coordinate a Fundaround page with Colette Eustace

She had to face her fears while fundraising

Her dad gave out fundraising flyers and gave them out at his work

She was moved by her father’s gesture

You need friends and family to support you while on a grand tour

She posted photos and updates during her grand tour

Leading up to the trip, she was scared, nervous, excited, anxious

“The first day was totally ridiculous."

To fly a bike, you have to take it apart and stuff it into a box

On the first day, it poured rain and everything got soaking wet

They had to dry everything overnight on a campsite!

Advice: Put all your stuff in trash bags inside your panniers

In Scandinavia, she saw lots of farmland, coastal sea, beautiful scenery

She ate a lot of picnic food to stay fueled, and also fish in Scandinavia

She ate a lot of sausage in Germany

France has great fruit

She stayed in hostels sometimes, the cheapest ones in Europe cost about 20 Euros per night

She camped out in random places

Her two biggest threats were bike accidents and men

Her then boyfriend went along with her for the first month

She met other cycle tourists and would ride along with them sometimes

Europe has very developed and organized bicycle routes

She regrets not having a gadget to listen to podcasts during the tour

“You can work a lot of things out, alone on a bike."

She loves bicycle touring but got homesick

Her brakes kept failing on her during the expedition for an unknown reason

She got sun burn and saddle sores

In Basil, Cristy got into a serious accident and got badly injured

Her bicycle tires got stuck in a trolly track and she crashed in slow motion

She had to sit down and cry in the shade for a little while : (

She got a beer afterwards to recover

She could barely make it on the bicycle the next day

She ended up sleeping (“nestling”) in her tent in a random community garden!

The owners of the garden plot caught her and Cristy was terrified hearing them rustle around and speaking in German

The German family took her in like a little child, feeding Cristy and even gave her coffee and pastry

Her rain gear was not adequate

Scandinavia has a strong wind going against you

It gets very hot in the summer in France

She’s injury-prone and has scoliosis, but avoided any major injuries

She rode 5-7 hours per day on average

She had to end her trip in Paris and not in Spain as planned because her visa expired

At the end, she felt sadness, relief, homesick

She had to stop putting up photo updates because of a potential stalker

“I can’t wait until my next tour."

After the trip, she slept a LOT but didn’t eat too much

European coffee is very strong and bold

You’ll be scared every step of the way. But you should do it anyways."

“I was scared during the entire phase of the process."

Before the trip, Cristy was working on a farm and at some odd jobs

Her dream is to work in biotech and live on a homestead