September is Facial Differences Awareness month, so what better way to kick off our new profiles of Fundtracker clients than by chatting with long-time client, AboutFace.

Over 10,000 babies are born each year in Canada with a facial defect and another 50,000 people acquire one through trauma or illness.  “Your face is what you present to the world, and it can be difficult when you are different,” says Anna Pileggi, AboutFace’s Executive Director.  “We are social animals and being facially different or have an unusual appearance in a society that idolizes beauty can weigh heavily on people. We support our clients with the psycho-social elements: things such as public awareness, mental health issues, educating kids in schools.”   Based in Toronto, the organization currently counts about 16,000 members nation-wide.

AboutFace counts on individual gifts, special events and grants to support their three main program areas: encouraging and supporting parents; empowering those with facial difference through youth camps, leadership training and skills development; and education programs that teach youth acceptance and understanding, in addition to a small scholarship program to support youth with their higher education.

Anna’s commitment to the organization radiates across the phone line.  “I love the people that we serve,” she says.  “I recently spoke to a mom of a child with a facial difference in Manitoba, and one of our camp participants. He has started acting and singing classes and has gained so much confidence through our programs.”

One of the challenges the organization faces in fundraising is that AboutFace serves a niche market and it’s not a popular or easy subject.  Anna turned to Ajah’s Fundtracker to identify new prospects for AboutFace.  “Fundtracker is a one-stop shop for us, identifying and exploring new funding opportunities and outreach for awareness building.  It’s really helping to open doors”.   More than a database, Fundtracker is a complete prospect research tool, with granting deadlines and previous granting history for thousands of foundation, corporate and government funders.

In the last quarter alone, Anna says that AboutFace sent out 35-40 grant applications or letters of introduction – opportunities she identified using Fundtracker.  The response from potential funders has been beyond their expectations, with an expected 20% increase in grants this year.

Visit AboutFace’s website for more information on their programming, including this year’s Camp Trailblazers, which will take place across the country in September and October.  And don’t forget to wear blue on September 27th, to show your support for Facial Difference Awareness month!