NGO Spotlight: Empower and Care Organization

Empower and Care Organization (EACO) is a Community Based Organization run by Ugandans to address the limited educational and economic opportunities that exist for vulnerable groups of women and children in Mukono County, Uganda.  EACO’s vision to implement activities that provide opportunities to the reduce poverty and HIV/AIDS in the Mukono community.

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EACO interventions focus on poverty reduction and address the effects of HIV/AIDS for a majority of vulnerable women, particularly widows and those living with HIV/AIDS, as well as vulnerable children, youth, and the elderly.

The Need: EACO seeks to help children attend school in Uganda. Education and poverty go hand in hand, and many of young people don’t have the opportunity or fees to go to school, let alone afford other basic necessities of life. Under this project, ACO provides school fees and materials, medication, and food for needy families.

EACO also leads WASH Projects to deliver trainings on hygiene promotion, construction of latrines for the schools, and repairing the 69 damaged boreholes in the Mukono communities. Additionally, they provide education on the links between water, sanitation and health, and the nature of and threats posed by environmental diseases,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthe importance and main elements of hygiene-promotion and the complexities of delivering safe water and sanitation in an emergency.

EACO wants to make clean water accessible within 1 kilometer for 100% of the people in rural Mukono. By constructing and repairing fresh water wells throughout rural areas, EACO will bring relief to thousands of residents, including those in surrounding communities, significantly improving the health and wellbeing of the residents.

The vision and philosophy of EACO is based on the belief that every human being is a unique individual and that we all have a right to good health and basic needs and should access means to a comfortable life in one way or another.

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EACO believes that the first priority is that people should have a sustainable life.

However, almost equally important is that an individual’s life should have meaning and that they should develop independence. This is being achieved through care, then empowerment and support. This begins with infrastructure to give the Mukono communities clean water and latrines and stop the spread of disease. It is only then that communities can benefit from education. With improved health comes the ability to be employable, to generate income and escape from poverty.

To learn more about opportunities to donate to or volunteer with with EACO, which is a vetted NGO partner of UniversalGiving, check out their website!

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What the Failures of Philanthropy Can Teach Us

By Sheridan Wilbur

As much as we hate to admit mistakes, errors are crucial to projecting a more successful future.

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John Dewey, the early educational reformer of the 20th century, said it best: “Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.”  

Dewey understood an uncomfortable truth: failure teaches more than a lifetime of success ever could. Within philanthropy, it is common to share stories of how individuals and companies are succeeding; how they are making social and environmental changes to impact the lives of others, but it’s less common to hear about their pitfalls. It’s encouraging to read about corporations like Walmart and Kroger conquering world hunger through philanthropy when capitalism seems to blame, but it’s equally as important to recognize when money is going to waste.  

Many times, philanthropic efforts are lost in tax deductions, salaries, operating costs and most significantly, public shame. In order to make philanthropy truly about redistributing and allocating money, and improving the livelihoods of less fortunate, it is critical that the stigma of failure is removed. Just like a science experiment, diagnostics must be taken place and results need to be published after exposing a new variable to an environment.  The new variable is a financial investment, and the funds must be analyzed to determine the impact the aid had, and how to improve the project in the future.

Walmart donated over 421 million pounds of food in the past year and over 4.5% of its pre-tax profits to help combat hunger, but there are many shortcomings from philanthropic initiatives that are not as inspiring.  

Between 1982 and 1988, the Rockefeller Foundation worked to educate minorities and single parents and propel future employment by investing over $3,000 per participant in their welfare-to-work program. Unfortunately, after 30 months of job training and counseling, Rockefeller concluded that the impact was immeasurable.  

Oprah’s philanthropic initiative from 1994 is another example of failed philanthropic aid. She donated over $3 million dollars in pursuit to move over 100 families out of public housing and off welfare in Chicago, but only 3 out of 30,000 families that applied successfully completed the program.  

The Rockefeller Foundation and Oprah both share disheartening results, but there is a huge difference between their initiatives – the documentation and understanding of their shortcomings.  The Rockefeller Foundation failed to reduce welfare dependency and enhance self-sufficiency under the Minority Female Single Parent program (MFSP), but they spent an enormous amount of time evaluating their initiative to understand what went wrong.  

Rockefeller’s failure seems shameful to philanthropy at first, as well as financially burdening, but it ended up being very beneficial and cost effective.  Rockefeller tracked the progress on the MFSP program and recognized failed outcomes and where they went wrong before engaging in a similar initiative.  They were able to prevent another mistake in grant allocation by studying the diagnostics and recognizing why the welfare-to-work program busted.  

On the other hand, Oprah neglected to perform data analytics, measure the impact and evaluate the shortcomings to her welfare project. Her program, Families for a Better Life, disconnected their phone lines, reported no public record of the program and didn’t conduct any outside evaluations. As a result, little is understood on why her plan didn’t succeed and it is likely that a similar failure will happen again.

Philanthropy fails when there is not an open line of communication between the donor and recipient, and grant money is allocated to the wrong people or to the wrong places. Aid can get disproportionately spent in operating costs for clergy or in theoretical research that ends up serving the rich more tax relief, and the poor less resources. If donors don’t know where the funds should go, and what methods work best, philanthropy can become a dangerous method of perpetuating inequality, rather than closing the gap between the rich and poor.  

Therefore, it is important that foundations like Rockefeller or philanthropists like Oprah cultivate open dialogue to understand what the stakeholder wants alongside what historically works best, to make the most meaningful impact.

It’s never glamorous to highlight failed projects, but it is important to incorporate an evaluation process and diagnostic test to save foundations like Rockefeller, or wealthy donors like Oprah, time and money.  ‘Social impact’ is harder to measure than gross sales for the quarter, but important to understand what difference the money is making to ensure it is leading to more opportunities for the disadvantaged.  

Failure is the best teacher, and flunked initiatives need to be studied and published, just as often as solutions are taking front page headlines. If philanthropists can create an environment for honest and productive conversation, there will be less money wasted and more knowledge shared.

Philanthropy has the power to address social problems in a meaningful way, but reports of these efforts must be published, especially when they fall short.

 

NGO Spotlight: Nepal Orphans Home

Nepal Orphans Home (NOH) is many things to many people, but it is one thing to all: a lifeline extended by a warm smile, without politics, without judgment, simply with compassion.

With help from a widespread and deeply committed donor base comprised of everyday people working hard for a living and giving what they can, and sometimes really cannot, afford, NOH attends to the welfare of children in Nepal who are orphaned, abandoned, or not supported by their parents.

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NOH is the face an abandoned baby sees smiling down at them, the person that baby feels holding and feeding them. They are a child’s extended family during a medical crisis they would otherwise have to face without cash in a country operating on a pay-for-cure basis without insurance. They are the extension of a remote village where droughthas claimed the last of the food, where runners enter the village saying there is a truckload of rice and other staples where the road ends, waiting for them to come and get it.

NOH is the provider of education for 260 women in their community, free of cost but paid handsomely in return by the smiles, confidence, laughter, and the overall wellbeing of the community.

NOH is the buyer of chemotherapy and pain medication for terminally ill children whose families cannot afford it; they are the smiling presence in the ward, celebrating birthdays and granting last wishes.

NOH is the daily hot and nutritious lunch given to children in an “untouchables” village, who are attending the school built by NOH, taught by teachers whose salaries NOH supports.

NOH was the first face that many remote Nepalese children saw coming to their rescue days after the earthquake in 2015.

NOH provided shelter to hundreds of Kamlari (indentured servants) following their rescue and brought back those who wished to return to their Kathmandu homes to regain their childhood in a loving and secure environment.unnamed

NOH is a family welcoming in children, that for one reason or another have found themselves without anyone, with a loving embrace, good cheer, and daily reminders that they are supported to achieve their dreams. It is a family where every member supports each others’ goals and where everyone comes together to achieve them.

NOH is this and so much more, administered by a Board of professionals, dedicated to helping those in need with their expertise, compassion, and resources.

To learn more about opportunities to become involved with Nepal Orphans Home by supporting a child’s education or volunteering in Nepal, search for them on the UniversalGiving website.

The White Helmets

Katie Nelson

Since 2011, Syria has been paralyzed by a gruesome civil war between the Assad regime, the Kurds, and rebel groups. The conflict has displaced more than 11 million (both internally and externally) as refugees, and killed nearly 500,000. In 2017 alone, the United Nations requested $8 billion in aid to put towards “the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.” As the fighting intensifies, it is Syrians themselves who feel its weight on their shoulders.

The Syrian Civil Defense (SCD) is at the forefront of the conflict. What started in 2012 as a makeshift series of rescue teams evolved into a more cohesive volunteer-based unit, now colloquially known as the “White Helmets.” The White Helmets come from all walks of life, from students and artisans, to doctors, engineers, and teachers. Their mission is simple: “To save the greatest number of lives in the shortest possible time and to minimize further injury to people and damage to property.” The group primarily deals with the aftermath of governmental airstrikes, but at its core, the SCD is wholly dedicated to providing nonpartisan aid to nearly seven million Syrians. In addition to operating as a first-response unit, the White Helmets’ work spans across a multitude of sectors in the public sphere including distributing information, rewiring electrical cables, and checking the safety of affected buildings. The volunteers’ pledges to the pillars of “Humanity, Solidarity, [and] Impartiality” aligns them with the courageous values of the group, with one another, and adheres them to the betterment of Syria herself in her darkest hour.

In 2016, the White Helmets were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and won the year’s Right Livelihood Award for their service to the international community. That same year, Netflix released its documentary “The White Helmets” featuring the group, produced by the Oscar-nominated team behind “Virunga.” While key players in the battle have continuously flirted with peace negotiations, fighting in its current state seems to be at best an inconsistent ceasefire. Yet organizations like the White Helmets keep hope alive for millions and epitomizes altruistic volunteering.

To learn more about the White Helmets, please check out these links:

https://www.whitehelmets.org/en 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1NguKirQDg

 

 

Sources
1. Durando, Jessica. “Syria’s civil war: Disturbing facts show cost of conflict.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 14 Mar. 2017. Web. 06 July 2017.
2. “Syria: The worst humanitarian crisis of our time.” Amnesty International NZ. Amnesty International, 7 Apr. 2015. Web. 06 July 2017.
3. “Volunteers to Save Lives.” Volunteers to Save Lives | SCD. Web. 20 June 2017.
4. Campaign, The Syria. “Meet the heroes saving Syria.” Support the White Helmets. Web. 17 June 2017.
5. “Syria’s White Helmets win ‘alternative Nobel Prize’.” BBC News. BBC, 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 23 June 2017.

NGO Spotlight: BiblioWorks

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BiblioWorks: strengthening communities through literacy and education

BiblioWorks is a nonprofit that promotes literacy and education in Bolivia. Their mission is to provide communities in need with tools and resources to develop sustainable literacy and educational programs through schools, libraries, and cultural institutions.

BiblioWorks was created in 2005 by a former American Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia, Megan Sherar, and her brother. They fell in love with the country and decided to address the inadequate infrastructure interfering with Bolivia’s access to some of the most critical things on earth: literacy and education. Literacy and education are the first steps towards progress for every community in every country around the world.

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Today, this non-profit organization is managed in Bolivia by a team of dedicated Bolivians who understand the needs of both the organization and each individual library. The local team also helps BiblioWorks stay connected with the various communities to make the libraries lively and useful; they work closely with the local authorities to focus on the needs that people express in every community in which they intervene. After more than ten years of dedication, BiblioWorks is proud to run a network of fourteen libraries in the city of Sucre and in the surrounding countryside.

BiblioWorks is convinced that literacy and education are best spread by a fruitful exchange among cultures, identities, and origins; and therefore welcome volunteers from all across the world to work with them in their varying libraries. It is a great way for people to share their differences and learn from one another. When a volunteer comes from another country, their stay in Bolivia is an opportunity to know more about a new culture and learn Spanish as well. It is also an amazing chance for the children to be confronted with diversity.

Volunteers play a great role and make a direct and personal impact on the libraries theyimage.do
work with. For example, if a volunteer has some dance skills, they can set up a dance workshop. Additionally, as most of the volunteers are fluent in English they can provide the kids with basic English lessons. Often, what is considered simple or usual for a volunteer can have a great value for a child and can genuinely impact their lives. When volunteers come from abroad to BiblioWorks’ libraries, everyone benefits from the experience.

The BiblioWorks libraries would not exist without the plurality of actors that participate in the life of their organization; from the board in the United States to the team in Bolivia, from the volunteers coming from across the globe to the kids attending the libraries.

If you are interested in donating to BiblioWorks or participating in a volunteer trip to Bolivia, search for them on UniversalGiving.

Five things that make for satisfying work

Here is a guest blog post by Mallen Baker about the things people need in a job in order to feel satisfied with their work. 

Many years ago, I made the acquaintance of Pete Brown who, I discovered after some time, was the author of a book called ‘Smallcreep’s Day’ published over 50 years ago in 1965.

It was the story of a man who works in a factory. And every day of his long existence he has been stuck in one place making one particular component for some unknown machinery.

One day he decides he wants to actually know what is the final product he’s to which he’s been contributing all these years. So he sets out on a journey into the depths of the factory to find out – a journey which becomes surreal and awful in equal measure.

It must have been one of the earliest reflections in popular culture of something that has become a widely understood truth. We seek meaning in what we do, and achieve much greater satisfaction if we find it.

For me at the time – well before I’d discovered the world of work for myself – it was an early influence that whatever I did needed to have a wider purpose. And that was long before it had become a buzzword in management circles, or even counted as a relevant factor at all.

But we’re now in a significantly changed world – and many people that are coming into the workforce say that they want satisfying, meaningful, work. It’s rather what the millennial generation – rightly or wrongly – has become famous for.

But largely they remain as unfulfilled as Smallcreep himself. The most recent Gallup global survey found that only 13% of workers worldwide are engaged in their work, committed to their jobs and making a positive contribution.

The best bosses give people the autonomy to fix the problems when they see them
So what have we learned in the intervening decades about what makes for meaningful, engaging work? How hard would it be to make it the norm, rather than the exception?

Here are a few things. You can probably think of others.

1. Sufficient challenge and complexity. Many of the jobs such as those carried out by the Smallcreep character that involved the pulling of a lever, over and over again – those jobs have been automated. But mindless work still exists. It may be more efficient to have different workers doing one action over and over, but you get more satisfied and motivated workers if they do a more complex range of actions to create something significant.

It was the movement for quality that created so many awful dreary jobs. Because it was intuitively easier to reduce defects if you got people to do one thing, before passing it on to the next person.

The other way to reduce defects – to make people into skilled craftsmen who take a pride in their work – that was considered to be less efficient. Increasingly, we’re seeing that assumption to have been a mistake on anything but the purely mechanistic level.

2. Growing skill and capacity over time. We always want to feel like we’re making progress. If we have a craft and we know that we’re getting better and better over time, then it gives a sense of momentum and mastery.

Interestingly, there may be some evidence that we’re kidding ourselves. Psychologist and author K. Anders Ericsson suggests that once people in most professions reach “acceptable performance and automaticity” they don’t improve further regardless of how many years they practice. Indeed, it can actually go the other way.

The key to getting better is to engage in proper ‘deliberate practice’ – pushing yourself to do things that are currently outside your comfort zone. Employers – for all that they will push you to do things faster – generally don’t give you work specifically to challenge and develop you. But if they did, the evidence suggests they would see real benefits.

3. The power to make decisions. If you know the mission and the intended end goal, then you’re empowered to make decisions along the way to help achieve that goal. If your job is the equivalent of ‘pull that lever’ then even if it turns out to be the wrong thing to do, you’ll keep doing it because you have no permission to take the initiative.

Good bosses have often found value in “going to the shop floor” to talk to people about how things really are. Because those are the people that see the things that go to waste, the things that aren’t working, the stages where mistakes are made.

The best bosses give people the autonomy to fix the problems when they see them. And to want to do so because they feel like they own the process and the outcome.

4. Recognition and reward. It is most satisfying when you see a direct link between the amount of effort you put in, and the amount of recognition and reward that comes your way as a result. It’s a delicate thing. Praise when you know it’s not been earned can be as demotivating as the absence of recognition when you’ve made a real difference.

And the ultimate killer is when you have ‘free riders’ – people that add to your burden because they don’t pull their weight and yet they share in the credit regardless.

5. Being part of a wider social purpose. Just about any product or service, if it helps real people to solve real problems, can be described in terms of the positive difference it makes to the world. And nothing is more motivating than if the achievement of that social purpose is an explicit part of the process.
On that last one, ‘maverick’ boss Ricardo Semler was once asked how you could identify such purpose for some of the humblest of service workers – such as school dinner ladies.

But you don’t get more important than that, he protested. These people have in their hands the health and wellbeing of some of the great people of tomorrow. And, he might have added, good nutrition has been shown to assist in how well young people are educated.

Smallcreep would surely have settled for that.

Check out the original blog post on Mallan Baker’s respectful business blog.

Seven Ways to Introduce Innovation Into Your Company

This is a guest post by Steven L. Blue about how to effectively make employees comfortable with innovation. 

The reason innovations fail is not because of technology. It’s never about the technology. Innovations fail because of people. The people who might employ a new technology may not be sold on it. Or they might be afraid of it. Or they might feel threatened by. Welcome to the dark side of innovation.

However, the biggest threat to a new innovation your company is trying to develop will be your own people. This threat comes in one of several forms, and sometimes in all of them. First, your people may want to cling to the old tried and true. As false as it is, tried and true gives people comfort. Or they may not want to cannibalize an existing product with a newer technology. Often your people will feel threatened by a new innovation because they think it will outdate their skills and therefore their jobs.

When you are introducing innovation into your company, you have to neutralize these threats. Here is seven ways to introduce innovation into your company:

1. Make innovation a top priority. Don’t let it be an activity that people should pay attention to “after they get the real work done.” Innovation is the real work.

2. Put your money where your mouth is. Promote people who champion your innovation efforts. Incentive people who support the effort. Make innovation a key component of performance evaluations. If people aren’t supporting the effort, make that a reason for possible termination. Create the time and physical space for people to gather and brainstorm ideas. Set key goals for the number of ideas to be generated. Support the best ideas with funding.

3. Be prepared to coach people who are against the effort. Be ready to make organization changes. That means moving people out of the organization or down in the organization if you feel they threaten the effort. Watch out especially for the “not invented here” syndrome.

4. Remember the 3 C’s of effective communications: Clear, compelling, and convincing. Be very clear in communicating your expectations. Paint a compelling picture of what happens to the company if you don’t innovate (read: bad things), and all the good things that will happen when the innovation efforts are successful. And be convincing as to why innovation is so important. You don’t have to look very far to find examples of companies that failed to innovate to use as examples. Just look at the case of Kodak. They knew long before it happened that digital was on the way in and print was on the way out. Kodak didn’t fail because they didn’t know how to innovate to meet that threat. They failed because they didn’t want to. And you can use a great example of an old line company that innovated its way out of death’s door. Encyclopedia Britannica also saw the digital revolution coming. But unlike Kodak they chose to innovate by going entirely digital. Now Britannica’s digital sales are better than their print sales ever were. And where are their print sales? Gone. And so would the company if it hadn’t innovated. You have to paint both sides of the “why are we doing this?” picture. I like to use what I call the El Dorado/El Chapo model. If we innovate we are on the road to El Dorado, if we don’t, we are on the road to El Chapo.

5. Hire or contract the resources needed to innovate. Remember, your own people won’t know what they don’t know. Fresh, new ideas from outside the organization will be needed.

6. Make the commitment to your people that they will be trained in the new innovations the organization chooses to adopt. Don’t let them think your plan is “in with the new and out with the old”; otherwise they are sure to be against it.

7. Regularly review progress in the innovations efforts. This needs to be done by the CEO so the organization knows this is a serious effort. Stay very close to the effort so you will know when it starts to break down. And when it does (not if, because it will from time to time), take action fast.

Always remember innovation never fails because of technology. It fails because of people. People who aren’t convinced it is necessary. People who are threatened by it. People who long for yesterday instead of tomorrow. Follow these seven steps and ensure your company’s innovations don’t fall flat.

Check out the original blog post on CSRwire!