Posted by: joshtoro | October 10, 2008

A Fun(d)raised Dinner in Washington, DC

On Tuesday, September 30th, Sierra Visher and I (Josh Bull) had a fundraising dinner to tell people about our upcoming Kiva Fellowships and raise funds to cover our transportation expenses.  Even prior to the dinner, an anonymous donor contacted us and told us s/he would match whatever we raised at the event up to $1500.  With that astounding offer on the table we did our best to raise awareness of the event among our various networks of friends and acquaintances. 

Sierra has a ‘cozy’ apartment in DC and the event definitely filled her place up.  I had some college friends drive in from various parts of Maryland and Sierra and I both got a few co-workers to come as well.  To celebrate the fact we were both going to Latin America for our Kiva Fellowships, we each made a Latin-inspired dish: a fantastic potato-base corn chowder, homemade salsa, a spicy guacamole dip, and homemade sangria.  A word from the not-so-wise to anyone who attempts to remake these dishes, remember to wash your hands after dicing jalapeños for your guacamole because otherwise it will not be a fun experience if you casually rub your eyes while driving through Dupont Circle in rush-hour J.  With the dinner and the anonymous donor, we were prepared for a good night.

The event went fantastically.  After an hour or so of mingling and meeting each other, I started a presentation on what Kiva does, what a Kiva Fellow does, and what the attendees could do.  One of the best outcomes of the night was the fact that my prepared 30-minute Presentation actually ended up being a 90-minute plus Discussion.  Not many of the attendees had actually heard much about Kiva beyond knowing that Sierra and I have a passion for it.  Questions flew back and forth about how Kiva works, what the implications of certain processes could be, why microfinance is different than regular finance, and many other topics that enlightened, entertained, and evoked new passion for Kiva in everyone.  Rather than feeling like a fundraiser for Sierra and I, people got the sense of it being a house party for Kiva and immediately started talking about how they could and should start having them at various friends’ houses.  So what began as a sharing of our personal passions, ended with a resolve to share our now collective passion for connecting people through loans for the sake of alleviating poverty.  I know for a fact one of them has even become a KivaFriend!

As for the original purpose of the dinner, funds were indeed raised.  Collectively, Sierra and I raised $700 but more importantly a new cadre of people to spread the word about Kiva and the Kiva Fellowship to their own networks.  And, in an act overwhelming his/her own generosity, when informed of our total, the anonymous donor in turn informed us that s/he would still give $1500!  So thank you.  Thank you to those who attended, to those who tried to come, to those who read this posting and sent good vibes our way, and to our incredible anonymous donor who must use a lighter if s/he smokes because s/he is really matchless.

Sierra Visher doesn’t leave for Honduras until November and to placement unknown after that.  I, Josh Bull, have left already and am in my first week at my Kiva fellowship with EDAPROSPO here in Lima, Peru!  In December I will be going to La Paz, Bolivia to work with Emprender. Sierra and I and the rest of the Kiva Fellows will be posting on the Kiva Fellows blog at throughout our Kiva fellowships.  If you like funny or thought-provoking stories and you like Kiva, then this is definitely a site worth checking out…daily.  Thank you for your support for Kiva, Kiva entrepreneurs, and Kiva fellows.  My experience so far has been overwhelmingly positive and some of you in particular are the inspiration for my ‘strangers and friends’ section of The ‘Between’ Week blog.

PS We didn’t have the foresight to take pictures of the dinner (although I we most certainly had the hindsight) but I have attached PowerPoint presentation that served as the springboard for the 90-minute discussion about Kiva to this post.  The picture on the opening slide was actually taken at the very moment Sierra and I had the idea (notice the intense gaze) while at Kiva Fellows Training to throw the fundraising dinner in DC.



  1. Josh

    It is nice to see that Sierra can still pick a good friend. It sounds like it was a great party, Sierra was too modest when she described it to me. This Kiva thing seemed a little strange at first but the quality of the program is becoming more and more evident.

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