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About Our Strategy

 We have designed our activities to achieve the following two immediate goals:

  • raise money for food and medical relief
  • increase U.S. public awareness of the situation in North Korea

Our fundraising efforts begin with a decision about how to make the best use of the money we raise.  For legal and strategic reasons, we only collect donations to pass along to other organizations active in North Korean hunger relief.  We consider the following factors when selecting an organization to work with as our donor-target:
  • What is the organization's relationship with North Korea?
  • What kind of work is the organization doing in North Korea?
  • Is the philosophy and approach of the organization in harmony with HRFNK's philosophy and approach?
  • Will the general public in the U.S. recognize the name of the organization?
  • Does the organization have a dedicated fund for North Korean relief?  Can we negotiate so that they will establish one?
  • What percentage of donated funds go to cover the organization's institutional overhead costs?  Can we negotiate to ensure that 100% of our donations are used in direct relief?
For our first two years we channeled all our funds through the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).  We elected to work with AFSC for several reasons: AFSC has been working continually with North Korea since 1980; AFSC's approach to relief work is based on a philosophy of human dignity and social justice, and is widely respected in the NGO community; and AFSC has good name recognition among the general public in the U.S. We were also able to gain AFSC's assurances that they would establish a  dedicated fund for North Korean relief, and that they would use 100% of the funds we raised in their relief efforts (rather than taking a percentage to cover their institutional overhead).  Starting in 1998, HRFNK has made the decision to include medical relief as one of our fundraising goals, so we are now also collecting donations made out to the International Committee of the Red Cross. Note that by negotiating with existing NGOs to establish dedicated NK funds and to reduce the institutional cut, HRFNK has an impact on the approach these NGOs take to NK relief.

Fundraising, Part II: Double-Cropping

Many Americans are hesitant to donate money to NK relief not just because of their concerns about the political and/or military situation in the DPRK, but also because they believe in taking care of poverty "at home" first.  HRFNK has pioneered a fundraising strategy to alleviate these concerns, and to begin to win the confidence of the local donor public.  We call this strategy "Double Cropping."  Double Cropping is based on the agricultural practice of getting two harvests from a single field.  In our Double Cropping strategy, we perform volunteer service in local organizations dedicated to addressing the needs of hungry people in the Bay Area (for example, sorting food in the San Francisco and Alameda County Food Banks, or serving lunch at the St. Anthony Foundation dining hall), and then, as in the more familiar "walk-a-thon" model, we ask for sponsors to donate money in recognition of our hours worked (or meals served).  The donations are dedicated to NK relief.  This strategy also helps to spread the awareness of the NK crisis to a wider public: many of the people who volunteer with us are primarily concerned with the problem of local hunger, and through Double Cropping they learn about North Korea.

Fundraising, Part III: Larger Donations

Every dollar we raise is of value.  Our grassroots fundraising efforts (primarily collecting pledges through fasting and volunteer work) establishes that there is a wide community of people concerned enough about the hunger crisis in North Korea to donate money for relief.  Grassroots fundraising, however, demands a great deal of effort for a relatively small monetary return.  We have elected to seek larger donations from individuals and businesses as part of our fundraising strategy.  In 1997, HRFNK identified San Francisco Bay Area business owners who were likely to have some interest in Korea (mostly Korean and Korean-American business owners), and explained our philosophy and process, and requested donations.  Several of these larger donors were persuaded in part by the evidence provided by our grassroots efforts that there is a public interest in NK relief.  These larger donors require careful and considerate treatment, however.  First, most will need to know they are making tax-deductible donations; we were able to provide them with the charitable I.D. number of our donor-target organizations.  Secondly, the larger donors are likely to inquire more closely to the exact use of funds; it is essential to have good factual information about the use of funds and the donor-target organizations available.  Thirdly, some larger donors will desire more information about the current situation in North Korea, and may need to be persuaded that donations to your organization will be efficacious.  Finally, larger donors may appreciate public acknowledgment of their generosity; if possible, it would be wise to include a list of significant donors in your publicity materials.  (We have taken a cue from the arts, listing donors according to their level of commitment: $1,000 - $5,000 "Donors"; $5,000 - $10,000 "Supporters"; etc.)  Significant donors also deserve a written acknowledgment, as well as a follow-up report on the outcome of their donations, when possible.

Working for a Bigger Impact, Part I: Media

We have found that television, radio, and newspaper coverage is very helpful both in encouraging people to participate and in generating donations.  We send out press releases to local media announcing our activities and event.  One effective strategy is to try to link the interest of our local story to the wider national and international stories about NK.  We also do whatever we can to persuade the media to include a contact address (for information and donations) in the story.  (Many of the local event calendars (radio and newspaper) have long lead times; we have not always been as effective as we would like to be in meeting those deadlines.)

Working for a Bigger Impact, Part II: Collaborating with Other Groups

The San Francisco Bay Area has a number of groups working in various ways on the NK issue.  To the extent possible, we attempt to maintain communication with them and try to make optimal use of the various human resources available in each group.  (Needless to say, this is not always easy.)  It can be particularly effective to collaborate in fundraising itself: sharing lists, sharing letters, and pooling donations to make a greater impact.

Working for a Bigger Impact, Part III: The Political Environment

HRFNK has chosen to take an apolitical stance in order to facilitate our humanitarian work.  We hope, however, that the educational aspect of our current work will lay the groundwork for productive public discussion of some pressing issues (for example, the embargo).   We see our current fundraising work as fitting into a longer-term mission of forging more trusting relationships between the people of the U.S. and the people of the DPRK.  These relationships will be affected by, and can themselves affect, the political climate and political structure of international relations between the two countries.  Keeping these broader goals in mind helps us to make smaller decisions about our current fundraising strategy.

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