We talk a lot about our sustainability initiatives and what that means for those we serve. However the importance of partnerships in achieving these ends cannot be overstated.
There is a danger in all things of trying to do too much, or reinventing the wheel and chasing bright shiny objects. This is certainly true of many nonprofits who aspire to do "good works" wherever that may take them. Often times this leads us out of our area of expertise and developing programs in areas in which we are inexpert is a recipe for inefficiency at best and potential harm or waste at worst.
We learned this the hard way. We have made mistakes and tried to reinvent the wheel and this has moved us into areas where we haven't been as effective as we would have liked. We do many things well but those things revolve around our medical teams. The value in the long term comes from finding local partners on the ground who can work with us, carry on the initiatives when we leave, keep in contact and play to their strengths.
It sounds obvious but often times organizations try to do to much when there are others that are better placed to help than we are. This takes work. Especially when we travel overseas, there is a lot of groundwork that needs to take place before anyone sets foot in country and the partnerships need continual work and sharing of resources and goals. The same is true with our closer-to-home activities at the homeless clinic. We will return to this theme in the near future with some specific examples but this is perhaps one of the most valuable lessons we have learned as a Foundation.