If you have been reading Food Shelf Friday very long, you’ve heard me talk about the Hope for Dinner initiative. If you missed that, Hope for Dinner is a fundraiser for Venture Expeditions. Every year during the week before Thanksgiving and/or the week before Easter, families give up their normal evening meal and instead spend 5 nights eating rice and beans. The family gains awareness of life on a limited diet, and they save quite a bit of money on their groceries. That money is given to Venture Expeditions. That’s how my family became familiar with Venture, and I know some of you have participated in or read about that fundraiser. But what about the organization itself? What does Venture do?
Venture Expeditions started in 2002 when a group of guys from Northcentral University here in Minneapolis decided to bike across the country to raise money for a church in Argentina. They made it safely across the country and raised over $17,000 along the way. The second year, the group grew and the trip did to. In 2003 they biked across Europe and raised $23,000 for HIV/AIDS patients in Africa. It was clear that this program had legs. Or, um, wheels.
In 2006 Venture became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. They have continued to raise funds and awareness through physically demanding expeditions: biking, running, hiking, etc. They also hold an annual gala fundraiser and get support from individuals and churches through donations and fundraisers like Hope For Dinner. The money they raise provides for physical needs, fights for justice, and spreads the message of Jesus Christ. Today most of their work takes place on the Burma/Thailand border, one of the hardest to reach places in the world. They provide Feed My Starving Children’s Mana Pack meals to the hungry, education to children, and discipleship to anyone willing to learn about Jesus.
Venture has not yet been rated by Charity Navigator, but they will be soon because they just hit Charity Navigator’s threshold of raising at least $1 million/year. GuideStar gave Venture a silver award, which means that they feel Venture is committed to transparency in its operations. Venture uses less than 10% of the money they raise for operations, so over 90% of your gift goes right to work. They claim that a donation of $10 is enough for them to provide 100 meals, and $300 can educate a child for a year, or provide food, clothing and shelter for one child for a whole year. That’s a really good return on investment!
As you can see, Venture can do a lot with even a small gift. If you want to help, go to their website and click the “donate now” button. Or, if you’re an Amazon user, start signing in to Amazon through smile.amazon.com, and set Venture as the charity partner that will receive a portion of your Amazon spending. All the prices, selection, and Prime membership benefits are the same, and most Amazon products do generate a donation.
The timing of this post is no random chance. I have been working on an amazing, unique piece of jewelry – a joint effort between Food Shelf Friday and Voice Jewelry by Hannah Kallio. We can’t wait to unveil it (soon!). I know you are going to love it, and it will make a perfect Mother’s Day gift. The project will benefit Venture Expeditions, so I wanted you to have a good understanding of who they are and why I chose them for this project. Keep your eyes peeled (that’s such a gross metaphor…), I’ll probably be spilling the beans via Periscope this week and then on social media by next weekend. To find Food Shelf Friday on Periscope search @foodshelffriday (it’s an app, so I can’t just give you a link 😦 ). I’m absolutely giddy about this project and we have been working really hard on design, ordering materials, and preparing the marketing. It’s going to be great. Keep an eye on the FSF social media outlets (Links: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) for the announcement!
Have you participated in Hope for Dinner or one of Venture’s expeditions? Tell us about your experience!