Toronto Student Named Outstanding Youth Philanthropist
(April 13, 2010) Bilaal Rajan, a 13-year old student from Toronto who has already helped raised an extraordinary amount of funds for children's causes around the world, is the recipient of the 2010 Changing Our World/Simms Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, Ages 5-17, presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).
The award, named after AFP co-founder William R. Simms and sponsored by Changing Our World, recognizes service by an individual who demonstrates outstanding commitment to the community through direct financial support, development of charitable programs, volunteering and leadership in philanthropy. Rajan will receive the honor on April 13, 2010, at the Awards for Philanthropy Banquet during AFP's 47th International Conference on Fundraising in Baltimore.
"It is an incredible honour to receive this award," said Rajan. "William Simms lived a remarkable life in which he gave so much to the community. He had a profound impact on fundraising, and I hope I can live up to his very high standards in helping those in need and making a difference. It will be such a pleasure to speak to the leadership and members of \the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Baltimore next week."
Rajan began his philanthropy at the age of four when he raised $350 by selling oranges door-to-door to support people in the Indian province of Gujarat affected by an earthquake in January 2001. He then turned to other charitable efforts, selling handmade acrylic plates to raise $1,200 for HIV/AIDS orphans; selling cookie boxes to raise over $6,000 (as well as helping to raise more than $500,000 in goods and in-kind gifts) for the people of Hurricane-devastated Haiti and securing $55,000 for the World Partnership Walk.
In 2005, UNICEF named Rajan as Canada's Child Ambassador. He issued a Canada Kids Earthquake Challenge, urging all Canadian children to raise a minimum of $100 each to support youth affected by the Southeast Asia tsunami. He personally raised more than $50,000, and children across the nation raised nearly $2 million, a sum which was matched by the Canadian government. He traveled to Malawi, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to see how the funds he had helped raise were being used and met with government officials to help coordinate relief efforts.
Some of his more recent efforts include Me and You and the Children of Myanmar to benefit the affected children of the Myanmar cyclone. He started another challenge for the children of earthquake-ravaged Haiti and promised to shave his head in honor of the Canadian school that raises the most funds for the challenge. For his latest global initiative, the Barefoot Challenge, Rajan and kids around the world lived without shoes for seven days during National Volunteer Week in April 2009 to help bring understanding to the challenges faced by poor children in underdeveloped countries.
"We at Changing Our World are proud to salute and recognize Rajan for all of his achievements at such a young age and wish him the best in his future work", said Michael Hoffman, chairman and CEO of Changing Our World, Inc.
Rajan also founded an organization, www.bilaalrajan.com, to heighten awareness of and raise money for children's struggles and issues around the world. His main goal is to empower one million young Canadians to get involved and raise funds for children's programs. To share his experiences with others, he wrote a book, Making Change: Tips from an Underage Overachiever. The book focuses on how kids can make a difference by thinking big, being bold and never taking "no" for an answer.
"What else can be said about Bilaal Rajan?" said Paulette Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. "At the tender age of 13, he has already had an extraordinary impact on people around the world. All of us at AFP congratulate him on his remarkable philanthropy and look forward to seeing what he'll do in the future."
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The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents 30,000 members in 207 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs. The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession. For more information, go to www.afpnet.org.
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Changing Our World (www.changingourworld.com) is one of the leading international philanthropic consulting firm providing individualized solutions in all areas of fundraising and philanthropy.. With headquarters in New York and offices in London, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Boston, Changing Our World raises tens of millions of dollars annually for nonprofit clients, and assists corporations, foundations, and individuals in achieving their goals in philanthropy.