Mith Sam­lanh Cam­bo­dia: the buy a brick’ land campaign

Exhibited by
February 26, 2010
Medium of Communication
Direct mail
Target Audience
Single gift, corporations
Type of Charity
Children, youth and family, poverty/social justice
Country of Origin
Date of first appearance
November, 2009

SOFII’s view

Friends International’s ‘buy a brick’ capital campaign shows how a good idea can come from what seems an enormous problem, as well as giving the opportunity to say a special thank you. Faced with eviction from their first centre in Phnom Penh, Mith Samlanh, Friends International had no option other than to buy the land so that they could continue their work with thousands of destitute children and young people. They managed to get a loan and asked their donors to help repay it by buying a brick for $50. Now each repayment deadline has been met and the donors receive a special letter of thanks and a photo of ‘their’ bricks.

Name of exhibitor

Hannah Perkins and Friends International (Mith Samlanh), Cambodia.

This capital campaign encourages individual supporters to ‘buy a brick’ and help Friends International to buy its Mith Samlanh Centre, Phnom Penh. Private donors purchase a brick for USD 50 that has been painted by one of the children from Mith Samlanh. This brick is then set into a special wall at the centre. In acknowledgement of their donation, donors receive an email letter of thanks and a photo of the brick they purchased with their name on it.


Friends International has been working with marginalised urban children and young people across the world since 1994. Each year they help thousands of children to return to their families, go to school, or learn a trade. We empower families to be able to support themselves, so that they no longer need to send their children to work.

The initial project was in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and was called ‘Friends’ orMith Samlanh in Cambodian. Since then this centre has had access to 1800 street children everyday and is the base for all our outreach programmes and services, each year reaching 20,000 children living and working in the streets of Phnom Penh.

Unfortunately, in 2006 the centre faced eviction. After much careful consideration and assessment of all our options, Mith Samlanh was forced to try and buy the land in order to keep the centre and continue its work.

The organisation had to raise $1.135 million to re-pay the loan and secure the site, to ensure Mith Samlanh’s provision of essential services for destitute children and young people on Phnom Penh’s streets, which is critical to the development of Cambodia. Luckily, Friends were able to obtain a mortgage loan and have met all repayment deadlines with much help from their donors and sponsors.

Special characteristics

For every dollar donated, an anonymous donor in America has pledged additional matched funding. For example, a $10,000 donation becomes $30,000.

Influence / impact

This campaign has been widely publicised in Friends restaurants and on their website and so far has been extremely successful. Mith Samlanh has also targeted corporations who may be interested in sponsoring entire ‘classrooms’ or specific areas that may reflect their own corporate interests. Friends have also had a lot of support from their current donors and other sponsors over the years in helping create awareness for the centre and helping them to repay the loan.


'Buy a brick' has been highly successful and has generated a considerable proportion of funds toward the mortgage.


Friends International found themselves in a difficult situation, on the verge of losing their flagship outreach centre, the foundation of their organisation. Despite this they took a leap of faith and decided to appeal to their closest supporters to assist in repaying the loan and help Friends to become a self-sufficient organisation for the future.

This exhibit was inspired by the 2009 International Workshop on Resource Mobilisation conference, held by the Resource Alliance.

View original image
A selection of brightly coloured bricks. When donors are given the chance to show what they can do it is amazing how readily they participate and how often they come up with intricate, well thought out and truly creative things to say. And of course it's a great way of encouraging involvement.
View original image
What Mith Samlanh is all about: happy, smiling children.
View original image
What Mith Samlanh is all about: happy, smiling children.