Kathleen VanDernoot still remembers when the first alert sounded from her phone. Within moments, the frequency of the alerts had become constant. She quickly realized what each one meant: a donation to Boston-area hospitals, including Boston Medical Center. It had only been a few short hours since her organization, The B Fund, launched a campaign to answer the call for critically-needed donations for surrounding hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. And yet, it already raised $4,000.
Equally as impressive was the fundraiser was being led by kids and teens who share in The B Fund’s mission of using “time, talents or treasures” to make a difference in their communities. While public health restrictions meant the organization’s “change makers” couldn’t support causes in their typical experience- and group-centered manner—like a yard sale—it did not stop them from rallying together. In addition to creating cards for COVID patients and frontline workers and setting up fundraising pages and teams, many group members took to social media to appeal for gifts and inspire peers to join the #bfundcares movement. “[Raising thousands of dollars] was all the doing of kids generating donations in $5 and $10 increments through social media,” Kathleen recalls of the sheer volume of donations. “It was incredible.”
Incredible, but not surprising given The B Fund uniquely prioritizes a culture of giving. Doing so, Kathleen explains, unites people and communities and allows them to feel connected to the causes they are supporting.
“When we started the B Fund, the goal was to help kids become lifelong philanthropists,” she notes. “We wanted kids to understand the importance of giving and be empowered to take action. At the same time, we’re providing meaningful experiences for them and their families and helping them build empathy for those in need. We place a big emphasis on using your time, talents or treasures—I don’t want anyone to feel like just because they don’t have a dollar to spare that they can’t make a difference.”
In keeping with the spirit of fundraising with intention, the mighty organizers behind The B Fund’s COVID-19 Response Campaign weren’t only reaching a specific fundraising goal—they were keenly aware of the challenges hospitals were facing and the burgeoning issues arising from the pandemic, like increased homelessness. “It was really important to identify a hospital that was serving all different communities, especially those at risk of homelessness,” Kathleen explains.
In Kathleen’s search, she found Boston Medical Center. “I just called and asked, ‘Hey, what are your needs?’” she says. “It was such a great experience to both hear how we could help and work together to craft that message in a way where the kids and teens could relate to [what was happening at BMC and among its patients].” Within six months of launching the campaign, the group raised more than $55,000 for BMC’s COVID Relief Fund, addressing the urgent needs of patients and staff as well as every facet of comprehensive care, like food assistance and housing stabilization.
Looking back over the course of the campaign, the unwavering dedication and momentum of The B Fund’s young fundraisers is a testament to the unstoppable power of philanthropy—at any age.
“We always say, ‘Just make the effort and change will come,’” Kathleen concludes. “Despite the pandemic being a scary time for so many, these kids were resilient, positive and they rose to the occasion. Now, they can see their efforts have great value and it will inspire others. There’s so many benefits to performing acts of kindness and being able to help Boston Medical Center in the way we did is a great example.”