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Jane Skeans at her home in Calgary, Alta. Beside her is a picture of Raul, age 5, a project recipient from her foundation the Canada Bolivia Children's Soctiey. (Larry MacDougal/Larry MacDougal for the Globe and Mail)
Jane Skeans at her home in Calgary, Alta. Beside her is a picture of Raul, age 5, a project recipient from her foundation the Canada Bolivia Children's Soctiey. (Larry MacDougal/Larry MacDougal for the Globe and Mail)

Bolivia Kids: 'It's a lot easier conversation' with older donors Add to ...

When Jane Skeans is looking for major gifts for the charity she started a few years ago, she knows who to approach – older people.

“It’s a lot easier conversation,” said Ms. Skeans, who runs Bolivia Kids, which supports educational programs for about 80 children in a community near La Paz. “They are at a different stage in their lives and they have more money to give. And they have a budget.”

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Ms. Skeans has been running the registered charity from her home in Calgary ever since she launched it in 2007. She raises up to $60,000 annually through a variety of activities, including selling gift cards, organizing fundraising events and approaching donors directly. She said she has had remarkable support from friends, family and younger people who tend to buy gifts and other crafts to support her cause. But most of her larger donations come from people who are 55 or older.

Keeping the charity going isn’t easy, she added. Ms. Skeans got the idea for the program after she did some volunteer work in Bolivia and partnered with a local teacher. She has to raise at least $30,000 every year just to fund the existing programs. That’s a tall order for someone who is also raising three children with her husband. Some of her initial funding came from a private foundation but she’s had to raise all the funds lately.

Ms. Skeans has shied away from trying to raise money through social network sites like Facebook. Online donations tend to be small, erratic and difficult to manage. Even large charities have struggled with devoting large resources to social media since the amount raised is often small compared to other types of fundraising. For smaller charities, the costs and time commitment can be prohibitive. “It’s too time consuming,” said Ms. Skeans who barely has time to update her website. “I would need another person.”

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