Give Big Kern Success Story: Fundraising is Great, but Connections Made Are Priceless!

This testimonial was submitted by Lois Henry, CEO and Editor of Give Big Kern 2020 first-time participant SJV Water (, a nonprofit news organization dedicated to covering water issues in the San Joaquin Valley. It helps to illustrate how Give Big Kern goes beyond helping nonprofits raise unrestricted funds, and actually assists them in achieving long-term sustainability by teaching them important skills and allowing them to make long-lasting networking and business connections. This is a true testament of the magic that happens when the entire community comes together in support of Kern’s hard-working nonprofits by setting aside “One Day to Celebrate the Giving Spirit of Kern County!” through Give Big Kern. Enjoy reading this story!
(Lois is on the right in the Zoom screen grab above. On the left is the main subject of her story, Mayan Lara.)

I had no idea what I was signing up for when Louis Medina, Director of Community Impact with Kern Community Foundation, encouraged me to get my nonprofit, SJV Water, involved with Give Big Kern (GBK) in late 2019.

When you’re neck-deep in all the things a nonprofit has to do, it’s hard to break out of the grind and dedicate the time to learning something new.

But what a huge help GBK has been to SJV Water.

It taught me the importance of maintaining a high transparency rating on, which, in turn, helped me keep my funding and corporate information organized and accessible, which, in turn, helped me apply for other funding.

And yes, SJV Water earned some good money (over $3,000) during the GBK event in 2020.

The best part of GBK, however, was that it introduced me to Mayan Lara, then a college student at California State University, Bakersfield.

One of GBK’s benefits is that it teams students with nonprofits that sign up for volunteer help.

And I desperately needed help with social media/marketing/graphics, etc.

That’s how I met Mayan, via Dr. Kyung Jung Han’s Public Relations Management Class at CSUB.

Mayan really upped SJV Water’s profile, look and feel through the GBK event.

I came to rely on her skills so much, I worked out a deal to pay her on a contract basis so she could keep the social media-marketing train rolling through summer.

I applied for a grant through Southern California Edison with the express purpose of funding Mayan’s work through the fall and got it!

In subsequent fundraising and awareness campaigns, I let my readers know that part of their donations would go toward paying Mayan.

I got some great reactions from donors who enthusiastically supported giving a talented young person the experience and MONEY to get started in their career. They felt good about donating so they could help SJV Water help a young person.

Now, Mayan is gearing up SJV Water’s second GBK fundraising campaign and already has some great ideas for how to build awareness and educate donors about the importance of GBK.

She understands social media, takes time to understand what SJV Water is all about and has incredible graphic design skills.

Mayan is, of course, naturally talented.

But I also credit CSUB for giving Mayan a very strong foundation to start from.

And “muchas, muchas” credit to GBK for being the bridge to connect an upcoming marketing phenom with little old SJV Water!

Mayan is looking for full-time work, but has agreed to keep helping SJV Water until she lands her dream job.

Thank you Mayan and thank you Give Big Kern!