Now in its third year, the annual Chiang Mai Charity Calendar has raised in its short lifespan Bt1,027,000 (US$30,057) for needy children in the north and, at the same time, presented a credible image of Chiang Mai as a tourist destination.
While those who compile the calendar note that the priority is to raise funds for rural children, they also reckon, with some justification, that the calendar is one of the best tools to present the charms of this seven century old northern capital.
Project coordinator, Basil McCall, is the first to admit the project had its detractors. “People warned us at the outset that ‘nobody was going to buy something which was normally given away free,’ but the Chiang Mai Charity Calendar has now raised over Bt1 million (US$29,294)for rural children in two years, and that is what encourages us to press on with the third edition in 2010.”
Mr. McCall and co-team leader, Ramlah Jafri, are convinced that, despite the recession, this is a worthy project for the travel trade to support. The 2009 calendar generated a fund of Bt423,000 (US$12,327), which was donated in its entirety to charity organizations at a dinner attended recently by over 100 guests at the Amari Rincome Hotel.
Charity aside, the small desk calendar is arguably one of the city’s most successful projects to promote awareness. “Chiang Mai is still mistakenly thought of by the travel trade as a ‘stopover’ and not correctly as a destination in its own right, worthy of a seven-night stay, or even longer,” said Mr. McCall. “The calendar helps to promote Chiang Mai and Lanna culture in an enduring, unusual, and attractive fashion and dispel misconceptions.” A direct effect of promoting Chiang Mai is that almost all visitors to Lanna will first come into Bangkok, so the promotional effect is thus shared between the two cities.
Chiang Mai’s students are invited from different schools to paint pictures depicting attractive aspects of northern Thailand. Independent judges select the best 14, which are then featured in the calendar. Promotional text and photography are added. The colorful and informative 40-page end product showcases the destination year round in an appealing, non-commercial way.
Production cost is around Bt500,000 (US$14,571), but the calendar is privately funded, has no sponsors, and carries no advertising. It is sold for Bt100 (US$2.93) to residents, tourists, travel agencies, hotels and corporate companies, and can be custom-made with a company logo, greetings, on the front cover, or on both sides of an extended 1-inch base.
All revenue, less the direct production expenses, is donated in full towards the education of rural children. The project is non-profit, supported by volunteers, and no party receives any financial benefit. The calendar has found its way into offices and homes worldwide and raised global awareness of Chiang Mai in many different countries.
Charities receiving support from the calendar are: Children’s Shelter Home, Doi Saket, Chiang Mai; Croston House Children’s Home, Lamphun; Khun Tha School, Thoen, Lampang; and Bann Nangplaman School, Mae Rim, Chiang Mai.
The third 2010 Chiang Mai Charity Calendar is going ahead and should be ready in August, 2009 with the theme “Nature & Culture of Northern Thailand.”
Advance inquiries and orders should be forwarded to calendar organizers, Ramlah Jafri and Basil McCall, at: [email protected] or tel: 086-189-6912; 2009 web page: http://chiangmaicalendar2009.googlepages.com. The 2010 web page is under construction at: http://chiangmaicalendar2010.googlepages.com.