Since 1984, Agros International has been working with rural farming populations to fight AND eliminate poverty and support prosperous livelihoods through land ownership, using market-led agriculture strategies, education in modernized and climate-smart farming practices, and a holistic system of social supports targeting health and wellbeing for communities and families. Our model is replicable and scalable, with proven results in 5 countries, 85 communities, and more than 20,000 people served. To share the success of our program reach, each year we bring our community together to raise money on one evening, telling the powerful story of transformation directly from the families we work with in Central America.
Tierras de Vida (Lands of Life) has become the overarching theme, and in 2022, we set out to produce a video that would authentically encapsulate and share the story of the lives of some of the families we work with, giving them a platform to share their experience with our donors and biggest supporters. The video we produced dove into the daily lives of two families and the struggles and victories they experienced transitioning out of poverty and into prosperity. Our goal was to communicate clearly to our audience the intentionality and dedication each family has as they work extremely hard to find success as commercial farmers, coming from the struggle of inconsistent and low-paying work as day laborers. As our largest fundraising opportunity of the year, the goal was to fundraise enough money to continue this mission of fighting poverty through a sustainable hand up.
The planning process was collaborative and extensive. We spent several months defining the framing structure and storytelling opportunities we believed could transport our audience and deliver on the goal of authenticity in the video. Poverty is a challenging topic to capture, as we strove to balance our communication goals with recognizing our privilege bias and allowing the honest experiences of the families to come directly from them. Working with our Central America-based staff, the videographers, and our USA-based staff, we built outlines and shooting schedules, selected locations and which families to be featured in the interviews, and provided interview prep and practice. We also hired a local documentary filmmaker to support the video production team and lead the family interviews. As part of the framing and planning, we wanted to intentionally leave room for the creative process during the shooting days, allowing the Producer and Video Production team to have the ability to lean into a story line or interview to capture that authenticity and the unexpected.
However, as all good plans go, there were several speedbumps along the way. Our Video Producer (and Communications Manager) was not given access to visit the country and was unable to travel (due to Covid restrictions), and therefore required to produce the video experience remotely. In addition, our schedule had planned to arrive during the dry season, yet the weather had other ideas. Upon arrival in Central America our Video Production team found themselves in torrential downpours every day of shooting. Yet, we chose to use the rain as an opportunity, instead of the challenge that it presented. It was with good spirits that our whole team, and the families featured in the video, came together, got wet, and were able to translate the connection on screen. We were grateful that we had planned for creative flexibility and let the voices of the families tell their story, their way. As you can see in the final edit, the biggest success is obviously the interviews and emotions the families shared. Because the staff and production team, got out of our own way, our stars were able to be safely vulnerable as they shared their challenges and hurdles, while giving an insight into the hope and prosperity they’ve found.
In 2022, during the event, our goal was $400,000 and we raised a record $615,000, in part due to the storytelling video shared, as well as the community efforts and support. The video provides a window into the lives of the families we work with, sharing their experiences moving from extreme poverty as day laborers to now owning and farming their own land, owning their home, and running a profitable business. In addition to consistent income and being able to pay their loans off within 3-7 years, Agros families are also graduating from the training program with an average net worth of over $27,000. This number is inconceivable compared to the typical day laborer in Nicaragua, and throughout Central America, making a total of $2,000 per year. The video itself was a significant contributor to the overall fundraising success, as the emotions of the viewers were present in the atmosphere of the event. Additionally, as an organization that is dedicated to ending poverty in Central America, the video is helping our supporters feel more connected to the results of our work, and authentically sharing just how meaningful their support is to changing lives.