Strategy Update: A Big Inflection Point
The final stage in our evolution?
we're gonna need your help now during this transition
This is it. This is my last ask. And this is as well a celebration of all that we have built together.
We have always said that the goal of an organization such as ours should be to work our way out of the business of requiring donations through an empowerment approach. The more we empower others and the more we create social innovations and social enterprises that can "substitute" the need for grants and donations while still achieving the same or greater scaled impact, the better. Isn't that what this is all about? It's about creating the capacity to continue the work without the requirement for grants and donations in perpetuity.
With more than a little anxiety, we say "Now is the time". Now, July 2017, is the last time that I (Greg) will ask you for your financial support. But we need your support now during this transition. Without "investment" now this is unachievable (A note: I may ask you a few times in the coming weeks but I think you get the gist.) (A caveat: Our local teams will still be seeking support at times for The Centro Explorativo, Haiti and the like but they will be taking the lead.) We are hoping to raise $75,000 over the next two months. That will get us where we need to be.
Why do I/we believe "Now is the time" from a strategic perspective?
We can continue and will to achieve great things as evidenced by our 2016 accomplishments and goals for this upcoming year. To be clear, we aren't closing shop or going away.
With an injection of funding support now we can ideally create enough runway for our existing social innovations and social enterprises to generate enough human and financial capital to take the place of our needs for grants and donations. There have ample opportunities to expand our partnerships through Social Entrepreneur Corps. We can invest time in outreach to create consulting work for Ultimiya. We have a suite of online Social Entrepreneurship courses with Columbia Business School that can generate social impact and funding for our work. We are yet to truly market Spanish for Impact and Certified Homestay. And we have a number of other great initiatives in the works. There are only 24 hours in the day and I believe we should be investing that limited time in optimizing these job, revenue and social impact generating opportunities that all have tremendous growth potential. We’ve worked out tails off to create these ventures. Now we should work our tails off to help them reach their potential.
I recognize that the amazing people who have supported our work have changing priorities and new causes they hope to support. I respect this and want my actions to reflect this.
I do not have the capacity to fundraise and do the necessary administration and support as I did in the past nor is it wise for our work and team to depend on this. It isn't fair. My priority should be focused on innovating new ideas and accelerating the social innovations that we have already created.
I need to focus as well adding value to the empowerment of our local leadership and team members to generate revenues/grants and donations themselves for their specific social impact priorities within our "tool box" of social innovations. We have an amazing team. They do an amazing job. They should be empowered to dictate and own their own success with my support. They are already doing incredible work here and finding new resource generating opportunities. I want to support them better.
We are less and less focused on the “direct service” aspect of our work and more and more focused on taking what we have learned over these years and reaching out to and supporting others. This creates exponential social impact, scale and at the same time lowers our fixed operating costs whilst at times generating revenues. For example, should we invest our team’s time and resources in getting to one more village? Or should we invest it in sharing our MicroConsignment Model et al. expertise with other organizations that can then use their own existing infrastructures to get to thousands of villages? This isn't necessarily a mutually exclusive choice, but the latter option seems the wisest from a prioritization perspective.
Humbly we have achieved so much and continue to do so. However, we don’t invest the necessary time to get the word out about this. We are a very small team. We have always been a small team with a small budget. We should dedicate much more time to publishing, sharing and celebrating. This is how we can show others what is possible, validate the work of our team, and ideally inspire change with and through new partners.
We are in the middle of building community. We are building a community of local organizations and former team members/supporters/interns that can be sustainable and self-supportive. This will be physical and digital. The world we work in is so fragmented and there are so many opportunities for organizations and individuals to help each other. But they don’t. Because there is no community. For what we believe to be a minimal investment we can play a key role in building this community. We have the relationships and knowledge. It is simply a question of putting the pieces of the puzzle together where everyone can add and derive value.
We want to demonstrate that it is possible for a nonprofit organization to continue to seek less and less support whilst generating greater and greater impact. Can we show the way for others in some small way? We hope so and believe this serves our field.
Overall, it is my belief that, through shifting strategy to become laser-focused on providing services that leverage the incredible leadership, platform, community and expertise we have built over these years, we can generate the needed human and financial resources for our work to reach greater heights. But again, we need your help now. This is a transition period. It's hard. And to create the runway possible we need your support.
Will you please celebrate this strategic evolution in our work with us through your support?