Compiled by Shonali Banerjee – Fundraising and Advocacy Coordinator

1. Without a doubt one of the most exciting highlights of this past year has been the growth of our incredibly talented team! With the addition of new volunteers, the TBF team is now 14 people strong.  We’d like to welcome and thank our newest volunteers Melissa, Karla, Rachel, and Sonia for their incredible work, time, and dedication to TBF.

“I’m so proud of building our team to 3 in the Chiang Mai office, 8 volunteers and a total of 14 TBF team members. It’s amazing considering around this time of year in 2007, it was me, a notebook and $50.” – Iona Proebst, TBF Founder and Executive Director

2. In February, Drs. Sam and Nasima Banerjee (parents of our Fundraising and Advocacy Coordinator Shonali) hosted a fundraising dinner in the United States on our behalf. The Banerjees successfully raised over $4,000USD for TBF’s research and capacity building efforts, making it the highest-grossing individual fundraising event to date!

“My husband and I were honored to host this event for The Branch Foundation.  It was the perfect opportunity to share the organisation’s vital work with our close friends.  Many of them have known Shonali since she was a child.  They were all eager to hear her speak about TBF projects and contribute towards such a worthwhile cause.” – Nasima Banerjee, Event Host

3.thank you video from one of the Koung Jor students became our most popular post on social media, with over 1,000 people seeing the post on Facebook and Twitter! In the video, the student discusses his background, explains why the TBF education project is crucial to his future, and thanks the generous donors for their invaluable contributions.

“I can learn English and attend Computer classes. If I compare myself to my Thai friends at school, who do not have these lessons, I can tell I am better than them.  I would like to thank all you donors.” – Sai Noom, student at the Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp

4. TBF launched our newsletter ‘Branching Out’ in June 2012. It has been so heartwarming to see the popularity of our newsletter grow over the past year. We now have 900+ subscribers!

We have so many fantastic supporters all over the world. We really wanted to keep them in the loop about how their contributions have made such a huge difference to so many people — a newsletter is a great way to do it.” – MaiLynn Stormon-Trinh, TBF Communications Coordinator

5. On March 13, 2013, TBF participated in GlobalGiving’s Bonus Day, when each individual donation was matched at 30%.  Over the course of just 15 hours, TBF raised $3,945 US including matching funds. This became the most successful fundraising day in TBF history!

“I was glued to our GlobalGiving project pages, refreshing them every minute, whilst I watched the amazingly generous donations roll in during our most successful fundraising day to date. If it weren’t for the fact that all human beings (including NGO workers) need sleep, I think I would have stayed up all night.”– Tom Rosen, TBF Co-Director/Project Manager

6. One year after implementing our solar panel project at Koung Jor, the extensive benefits of this renewable energy solution are readily apparent.  In addition to saving money each month and improved test scores from children who can now study at night, the Camp residents now use their savings to purchase their own yellow beans; TBF no longer needs to support their food aid.  This project serves as a true landmark success for TBF sustainability projects.

“I’d like to thank TBF for providing the solar panel for my home. And my cat is very thankful, too!” – Elderly Koung Jor resident affectionately known as “Grandpa”

7. We couldn’t have been happier when the Earth Day Network chose our solar panel project as one of their key stories during the 2013 “Face of Climate Change” campaign. Since TBF funded the world’s first solar-lit refugee camp, we were graciously featured on the Earth Day Network blog, a Voice of America article about the campaign, and Ecozine!

“Another human face transports us to a refugee campon the Thai-Burmese border.  We see a 75-year-old woman carrying a solar panel to install on her thatched-roof hut.” -Roseanne Skirble, Voice of America

8. In April 2012, TBF was visited by Jacqueline Lee, an In-The-Field Representative from GlobalGiving. She visited our projects at Koung Jor and lead a successful workshop in Chiang Mai facilitated by our team.  We thoroughly enjoyed having Jacqueline here for several weeks, and are very grateful to her for facilitating a strategic partnership between TBF and GlobalGiving.

“In May 2012, I was able to visit the Koung Jor Shan Refugee Camp that received solar lighting from TBF. When we arrived at the Camp, I immediately noticed The Branch Foundation staff was a part of the community family, and because I came with TBF I became family too. Everywhere we went, residents came out to speak with us and shared news (one woman just received a new GREAT-granddaughter!). The TBF projects were making an incredible impact on the daily lives of the community – and the gratitude displayed by every person I met was indescribably moving.”– Jacqueline Lee, former GlobalGiving In-The-Field Representative

9. From March 3-10, 2013, the TBF team ventured to Cambodia.  We met with fellow nonprofit organisations in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, learning about the innovative work they do.  For example, Tiny Toones empowers disadvantaged Cambodian youth by teaching them breakdancing, music and DJ-ing! Most importantly, we met with our partner organisation the Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights (CCPCR).  We were impressed by the work the CCPCR shelter is doing with at-risk girls, and particularly appreciated the holistic approach they used to create a positive environment for their residents.

“After seeing the truly inspiring effects of TBF projects in Thailand and along the Thai-Burma Border, it was such a privilege for me to go to Cambodia and see just how far the TBF reach extends.  I was so proud to see how our small-capacity organisation can implement such effective projects in a large region.” – Shonali Banerjee, TBF Fundraising and Advocacy Coordinator

10. In recent years, TBF has had the fortunate opportunity to partner with Pam Siow of Internet Biz Owner’s Club in Singapore.  With her help, TBF can maintain our funding model of using 100% of all public donations for our projects.  Thank you Pam for allowing us to continue our vital work in the region!