Richard Higgins and Margaret Graff set a priority on giving back to help improve people’s lives. Their Mundito Foundation helps people in need both domestically and internationally through programs that are specific, efficient, and life-changing.
They got their start in philanthropy as child sponsors.
“I have a card on my desk that thanks us for 25 years working with Plan,” said Richard. “We began like most folks with a sponsored child, paying a little bit each month. That led to several more sponsored children in various countries. The final sponsored child was in Guatemala.”
Having gained some experience in raising larger sums for another organization, the couple asked Plan what project they could accomplish with $8,000. Plan came up with a proposal to build a one-room health clinic in the village where their sponsored child lived.
“We asked our friends to help and were pleasantly surprised when donations significantly exceeded the goal,” he said.
A site visit to their sponsored child’s village gave Richard and Margaret a whole new perspective on how Plan works for children and communities.
“A site visit is a lot of work and expense for everybody, but helps us evaluate how effective a nonprofit is out in the field.”
“I was quite impressed with the local staff,” Richard added. “[They were] highly dedicated and effective local people. We were amazed by the file cabinets full of sponsor-child communications. Sponsor-child contact takes a lot of work.”
He said they were treated “like rock stars” when they visited.
Folks went all out to make us feel welcome,” he said. “And we saw how the village leadership appreciated what Plan does for their community.”
Later, they sponsored Plan projects in India, Nicaragua and Burkina-Faso.
Mundito was born from the Guatemala project, on the principal that a giving group can multiply the scale and hence the impact of any single donation.
“Our donor group knows that a project selected by Mundito has gone through a rigorous evaluation of efficiency and effectiveness,” he said. “They feel more confident that their money will be well-spent.”
Mundito works with a variety of nonprofits, but counts Plan as one of its favorites.
Currently, Mundito Foundation funding is helping rebuild a school in earthquake-ravaged Nepal.v At the time of the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake, a Mundito board member’s husband was trekking in the country. He was missing for several days, but was not injured, and soon returned home safely. The personal connection, however, led Margaret, Richard and the rest of the Mundito foundation to want to do something to help with earthquake recovery.
For Mundito, building a school seemed like the perfect project.
“There are several reasons but they’re all linked together,” said Richard. “Restoring normalcy is very important when a dramatic event happens. Going back to school keeps the kids occupied and keeps them learning. And, it lessens the risk of child trafficking. Trafficking in Nepal occurs far too frequently, due to the extreme poverty.”
Richard and Margaret feel strongly that the education of girls is particularly important.
“Educating a girl lessens the chance of early marriage and early pregnancy, and leads to fewer children and a better quality of life for the family,” he said.
Given their histories, it is no surprise that Plan and Mundito’s values – like education and girls’ rights – align.
Richard sees the relationship as a collaborative partnership between two organizations looking to make a real difference in the world.
“Plan is easy to work with,” Richard said. “We’ve had good history over the years with Plan staff. When we want to identify a project, we call our Major Gifts Officer and say: ‘We want to steer some money in your direction – help us figure out what to do.’”