In a world full of need it can be challenging to know where to start. We often get asked: how do we decide where to help? It depends on several factors.
Our tagline is Following Jesus where the need is greatest. So it makes sense that the first criteria we look at is to determine if there is a need for us to be there. If a country already has a lot of support from other organizations, or has transitioned from a low-income country to a mid-income country, we often decide to concentrate our energy and resources elsewhere. When we do decide to enter or work in a country, we look for the most vulnerable in the community – those least likely to get help. Widows, single mothers, the elderly and disabled.
2. Suitable Local Partner
Then we look at whether there is a suitable local partner we can work with to help those we seek to help. This includes whether or not they are connected with the church, possess the technical competencies required, and have good governance and accountability structures. We also look at partners who have overlap with our expertise (i.e. agriculture, savings groups) but also have complementary skills that can help. Lastly, these partners must have the capacity to deliver the work – not being too overburdened with other tasks and having the proper financial systems in place. When we find a suitable partner, we typically engage with them for the long-term, allowing us to go deep and really transform lives and communities.
Although funding shouldn’t be the first and definitely not the only criteria, the reality is we can’t intervene with a program or help those in poverty if we don’t have funding. For every project, we look at how much funding we have, or can secure, in order to carry out sustainable work. The last thing we want is to start a project and then have to “pull-out” mid-way due to lack of funds. This typically has adverse effects on the people and communities we try to serve.
4. Country Geography
We made a decision years ago that instead of being in many countries, it would be more effective and efficient to focus our efforts on particular regions. One of those regions is Central and East Africa (DR Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania). This allows us to go deep in those countries to implement projects that will result in lasting change. It also makes it easy for our program officers to visit for monitoring purposes; giving them the ability to travel to several countries in one trip. Lastly, it helps us with knowledge transfer, as often these countries share similar cultures, climates, and needs.