#50PLUS. Hayastan All Armenian Fund Launches A Global Armenian Initiative
War in Artsakh

#50PLUS. Hayastan All Armenian Fund Launches A Global Armenian Initiative

The concept of the #50PLUS initiative is simple: 1 million Armenians donate 50+ dollars monthly and each year they provide 600 million dollars for the development of their homeland. Regional Post spoke to the Director of the “Hayastan” All Armenian Fund Haykak Arshamyan about the initiative and the fascinating unity of Armenians from all over the world that we are witnessing today. 

Interview: Artavazd Yeghiazaryan

 

Haykak Arshamyan

 

How did the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund come up with the 50PLUS initiative? 

Last year, before the annual Telethon, we came up with the idea of “a cup of coffee” donation. Basically, we asked our compatriots to regularly donate the amount they spend on their daily coffee to the “Armenia Fund”.

And recently, during the war, several friends and colleagues from Los Angeles contacted me and brought up the idea that regular monthly donations would be more efficient for long-term results, in terms of sustainability. Their point was that 50 dollars is not a huge amount, so they suggested that we promote this idea and explain to the people that this concept can ensure the sustainability and permanency of the All Armenian Fund’s fundraising and other initiatives. Then, I received a call from Armenians living in Belgium who suggested the same pattern of regular donations, but in much larger amounts. We combined a lot of these ideas, discussions and suggestions and came up with the #50PLUS initiative became a reality as after all, long term sustainability and continued donations are one of the main points of our organizational strategy.

You have mentioned the US and Belgium, can we say that this initiative is mainly targeting diaspora communities? 

Not necessarily. When we say 50PLUS, we do not specifically mean 50 dollars, 50 euros or more. We say that if a person takes on a commitment of a certain amount each month, it adds up to the donations of others and creates a synergy effect. The amount does not matter, but regular participation does. Of course, it can be a couple of dollars, but preferably more. As a result, if we are aiming to engage one million people in this movement, they will be able to generate half a billion dollars every year. Obviously, at this moment, these donations will be directed to Artsakh to address their most urgent humanitarian needs but by generating this amount every year we can create a Global Armenian budget, which can be used not only for ongoing projects but can become an endowment, a rapid response or  reserve fund, to support Armenians both in the homeland and in the diaspora communities. This could have been the case for Lebanon and had we had this initiative in the past we would have been able to provide 5 million dollars instead of half a million to our community in Beirut. 

As I understood from your briefing, the money that has been collected is already being spent. To what purposes does the “Armenia Fund” allocate these funds?

The donations are directed to humanitarian programs in healthcare, infrastructure and social programs. At this time, I cannot go into the details of what we have done both here and in Artsakh but all these fund are spent exclusively on humanitarian projects. 

Consequently, this money cannot be used, for example, to purchase military equipment? 

Absolutely not and it is clearly stated on our website. All funds are spent exclusively on humanitarian and development projects in accordance with the mission of our organization. 

The amount collected has already reached 140 million dollars. Are you satisfied with the overall dynamics? 

I’m very satisfied with the dynamics, it has been unprecedented. During the first couple of days the numbers went up slowly and at some point it entered into a stable growth phase, which is a fantastic dynamic. This is an unprecedented fundraising campaign. And I must mention we’re delighted that these funds were mainly a result of crowdfunding. Of course, we have contributors who donated 1, 2 or 3 million dollars but currently about half a million Armenians from all over the world are involved in this fundraising campaign which is an unprecedented number. 

The Flight with Humanitarian Cargo Arriving In Yerevan

 

Can this format interfere with the annual Telethon? Will it be held as usual? 

The Telethon has a completely different message and meaning. It’s a symbolic day of unity for all Armenians. The Telethon sums up the year and reports our activities to the Global Armenian community and we connect with the vast network we have created. I’m sure the day will be unique and we will see pledges to our ongoing campaign increase. People definitely realize that there will always be issues to address, extensive funding will be required to rebuild Artsakh. Hopefully we will be able to celebrate our victory during the Telethon. 

Why should we all join this initiative?

It is important to understand that these funds will be used for the most urgent humanitarian needs and the more funds we have the more projects we can undertake. The more projects we take on the more we enable the governments of Armenia and Artsakh reallocate the national budgets to other important areas. 

Essentially, by donating and being involved you do two things. You help us cover a significant part of the healthcare, social and infrastructure related expenses and you create an added value by helping your homeland and allowing the government to be more flexible in its spending.