How To: Expand a Program in a New Country

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!

How To: Know When to Outsource for Talent

On Sunday I wrote about the process of finding out about myself through my non-profit. One crucial aspect of this was figuring out what talent I possessed, what I could learn and master, and what are the things that I needed to outsource to someone who had more time and talent.

I never studied law, nor do I ever want to. So when my organization needs legal advice, we seek someone outside of the organization. None of us know how to build a database, so when my girlfriend offered to create one, I jumped at the chance.

Last Wednesday I discussed how to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and challenges of your organization. After figuring out what the weaknesses are, you have to go deeper. What can be fixed by training the staff? Who should learn what skills? What areas should be consulted on or outsourced?

If your organization is strapped for funding like mine is, its understandable that you would want to try taking on all of the problems without outside help. With no outside help, some things will turn out great, but other times you do get what you pay for. You also never know if a professional is willing to donate their time or offer you a big discount. We met our accountant at an event that was related to our field, and he has been working with us for several years for a very discounted rate.

As much as you wanted to, if you have a small organization, you can’t do everything in-house without losing out on quality and/or sanity. No one is good at everything, and there is always someone outside of your organization who has the time and talent.

Really focus on the networking opportunities that you may possess. Do you have an aunt who is a lawyer? Does she know someone who specializes in non-profits? Do you have a family friend who is tech savvy? A cousin who is in marketing? Anyone and everyone has the potential to be a resource.

There is always the potential for rejection, but finding someone to create financial statements or a social media plan is worth 10x the amount of rejections you might receive.

Good luck!