Fundraising for Sakhi’s Mission to End Violence

By Radhika Nayar

Sarah Crist joined Sakhi in November 2008 as a Development Associate and has worked most recently as our Senior Development Associate. Helping to sustain our work from a fundraising perspective, Sarah has made an invaluable contribution during her time at Sakhi. Sarah’s general responsibilities have included garnering individual and institutional support for Sakhi, executing special events, and managing Gen2, Sakhi’s young professional fundraising committee. We had a chance to sit down with her and learn about her experience working at Sakhi and what she will take away from her time here.

Similar to many Sakhi supporters, Sarah first learned about Sakhi when browsing through in search of a development position, having just moved to New York from Indianapolis. Sarah came to New York to pursue her interest in development, particularly event planning. After meeting with Sakhi’s executive and direct services directors, who expressed the critical need that Sakhi fills in serving the South Asian community, Sarah said she was hooked and couldn’t refuse the opportunity to help strengthen Sakhi’s impact.

In retrospect, Sarah explains that she hadn’t anticipated the fact that working at an organization of Sakhi’s size would provide her with such a broad range of educational and professional development opportunities. She appreciates how she learned about all aspects of the development field and gained varied skills: “I had the chance to work with a lot of people on a lot of different levels. Interacting with the board is so different from writing government grants, which is so different from communicating with funders.” This is a major benefit of working in a close-knit community-based organization like Sakhi.

Sarah finds the development and fundraising field itself uniquely rewarding. Her daily interaction with donors and community partners who share her passion for Sakhi’s mission served as a reminder of our community’s high regard for our work to end violence against women and the value of her own work as a staff member in sustaining the services Sakhi has to offer women who are seeking help. This external validation from Sakhi’s continuously growing network of supporters also reinforced for Sarah Sakhi’s success as an organization. Few organizations that serve such a relatively small, non-mainstream population can boast this same wide recognition and endorsement.

Sarah cites her contributions to the planning of the 20th anniversary gala in 2009 as her proudest accomplishment. As the point person in the Sakhi office for gala planning, Sarah worked with Sakhi’s Board of Directors and Benefit Committee to organize the 20th anniversary gala, her first large scale event. The challenge of planning and executing the event provided her with valuable professional training. She is confident that this year’s gala (which is being held October 1, 2010) will expand upon last year’s success and most importantly, provide the community with an opportunity to celebrate Sakhi’s growth and new vision for the future.

In September, Sakhi staff and volunteers gave Sarah well-wishes in her transition to her new position as Development Associate of Special Events at the Wildlife Conservation Society. We will miss her leadership and dedication and are grateful for her continued support for Sakhi. In its third decade, Sarah hopes that Sakhi will enhance its services to the South Asian community by challenging dating violence in addition to marital violence. Sarah noted that a staff brainstorming session about Sakhi’s future with Professor Margaret Abraham, a longstanding Sakhi supporter, forecasted that Sakhi will have to meet the needs of a changing South Asian population that will include a greater proportion of first-generation South Asian Americans who may face dating violence. By helping to foster healthy relationships among a younger age group, Sarah believes that Sakhi could better prevent violence against women. Given Sakhi’s commitment to fulfilling community needs with its ambitious expansion this past year in its Economic Empowerment Program and the launch of a Restorative Justice Initiative, Sakhi may one day also serve South Asian youth. Perhaps Sarah will help realize this vision – alongside our growing group of other extraordinary and dedicated volunteers.