When Barbara Dougan received letters from Burkina Faso about a recent donation her foundation had made to Plan International USA, the organization’s impact was very clear.
“The most gratifying expression of appreciation is from the Burkina Faso girls who had received a scholarship donation and they wrote lovely letters and stories about how their lives had changed with our Foundation’s donation,” she said. “That was very heartwarming.”
Dougan’s Family launched the Barbara Belle Ash Dougan Foundation two years ago with a mission of helping women and girls. She quickly realized that Plan’s work with girls overseas seemed like a perfect fit.
Plan’s Because I am a Girl initiative reaches out to the most marginalized and vulnerable populations of girls globally in an effort to make a lasting impact.
“Our own Foundation, which is only two years old, has a focus on women and girls, so we line up nicely with Because I am a Girl,” she said. “We want to help girls who do not have an opportunity for education, and that could mean building housing for girls who live far from school as well as offering scholarships.”
Dougan first became aware of Plan from a family member who lives on the East Coast and is a Plan sponsor.
When she dug deeper, she found that the organization had a sterling record working side-by-side with communities in 50 developing countries to end poverty for children by developing solutions which ensure long-term sustainability.
“I was attracted to Plan because I was looking for an organization that I felt comfortable with—that I was confident [with] how the money was being used and I could have feedback regarding the donation,” she said. “I wanted a charity that had a proven record and a reputation for being effective."
In 2011, she had the opportunity to see Plan’s impact first-hand.
“Two daughters, my granddaughter, and I went with Plan to Honduras,” she said. “The communities that we visited were so grateful [for] the progress Plan was making possible. It was very impressive. Everyone came out to welcome the Plan visitors. They had activities and food ready for us to show their appreciation.”
Dougan learned first-hand how contributions were truly making a lasting impact. Instead of a short-term fix, Plan focused on long-term solutions and sustainability.
“As we traveled around the villages, the residents were quite happy to describe how Plan had helped them with their businesses and their lives in general," she said. “Many had recently installed the Justa stoves and the women talked about how the stoves had reduced the amount of firewood they needed and improved the health of their family.”
Blown away by Plan’s programs, Dougan left even more determined to help.
"We came away from that trip sponsoring 4 more children,” she said.