I asked Beth: Beth Beall is the unflagging ED [NOT easy] @ Vida Joven, an orphanage located in Tijuana, Mexico (murder capital of the world per capita, 2019

Tom Ahern

Vida Joven in a nutshell?

Misery-central @ intake: abandoned kids living unprotected on the streets. Yet most Vida Joven orphans eventually go to college (yay!) … overcoming multiple traumas en route. If I had to pick just one charity to give to (of the 3 dozen we DO give to) … it would be Vida Joven.

Huge impact on those served? CHECK!
An unimaginably tough job done extremely well? CHECK!
Passion? CHECK!
The most emotionally satisfying donor comms I know? CHECK!

Beth, Vida Joven’s ED, is the very best, leastinhibited, daily practitioner of honest, weeping donor love I know.

MY PROMISE TO YOU: If you wish to see what great donor comms look like? … just send a small gift to Vida Joven. You will be amazed!

Delightful things will arrive. Mix up a pitcher of margaritas and settle into a comfy robe…

(Though any praise you throw her way will likely embarrass her. So please be gentle. Dealing with the truly humble is SUCH a pain in the neck.)


I asked Beth whether her extreme donor-centricity mattered or not. Did she have any measures, a few years in?

Beth Beall wrote back:

Oh man, really? There’s supposed to be a quantifiable bottom line in all of this?! 😉

So does the Vida Joven donor love make any difference for the (%$*#) bottom line…

In no particular order, and maybe not particularly helpful?! 

1.  If our December fundraising performs as well as it has over the past several years, we’ll exceed the budgeted goal again.
[Lesson #1: have realistic annual goals. Then take chances, hoping to exceed goals.]

2. Number of donors, donor retention rate, monthly donors etc all show steady increase. More donors every year (since 2015/2016). More money every year. We’re not growing by leaps and bounds, but we are steadily growing.
[Lesson #2: closely monitor important basics. Metrics matter.]

True story: A donor named Jane

Beth Beall continued…
Jane’s in her 70s … like so many of my other favorite people.

She learned of Vida Joven through her church several years ago. Shortly after I came on, I saw she made a gift of $100 or so.

I didn’t recognize her name, and called her. Turns out she loves phone calls. She told me so. And so, I began to call her now and then to say hi. Learned she also loves actual notes. So I’d drop her a note now and then.

And she began to surprise me with birthday and xmas gifts. Which of course I reciprocated. We started having lunch (pre-pandemic) on a monthly basis.

About two years ago, she upped her giving to $500/month.

Last year: $1,000/month.

This year since about May (because she can’t do all the international traveling she usually does), she’s been donating $5,000/month.

I had some of the kids write handwritten thank yous to her last month … and last month she donated $10,000.

She’s also donated restricted funds to the eventual purchase of the new orphanage.

When we talk, she uses language like, “How’s my little orphanage doing?”

“MY little orphanage” ….

I love that. Because of course, she’s right.

  • Tom Ahern