Expanding your programs into new countries shows donors, constituents and funders that your mission can be scaled across geographic and cultural boundaries. It can be very exciting, but daunting if not prepared for the new challenges. However, expanding for the sake of a better looking brand will hurt your programs and your mission; quality should come before size. Before deciding on program expansion, make sure you have these questions answered:
Why are you expanding?
I would love my non-profit to work in as many countries as possible. It’s not just realistic. Is there a formidable reason why you are expanding? A new partner might open the doors to new countries, but you want to make sure your organization has the ability to maintain program quality while expanding.
How are you expanding ?
Who is funding this program expansion? Are the funds sustainable enough to maintain current and new programs? If money needs to be shifted around, is sacrificing an aspect of your organization worth the new program site?
What program infrastructure already exists in the country?
How does the infrastructure vary from the country you are currently working in? Is there a network of people, government offices, and organizations that you can rely on? What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges of working in the new country? How do those strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges different from what your organization is experiencing in your current location?
What adaptations do you need to make when going into a new country?
Every city, providence, and country is different. A youth empowerment program in a village in Peru should not look like a nation-wide initiative in Romania. Before starting in a new country, it is important to research how similar programs work in the same country and on the same scale. How does the sociopolitical, historical, and cultural differences affect how your program is run? A women’s training program in Mexico would not run the same way as it would in Ethiopia; it is crucial to remember the need for program-redesign.
Start planning, and good luck!