Every nonprofit’s goal should be to put itself out of business. Can you imagine? A world where no one needs a homeless shelter, where the environment is protected by everyone, where everyone has access to water, where these issues have been overcome. To take one huge step in this direction, we need to take a hard look at our programs. Are they truly addressing the root causes – or are they only addressing immediate needs?
Obviously addressing immediate needs are important – but they aren’t going to have the long-term impact needed to make your nonprofit unnecessary. Charity : Water is an excellent example of a nonprofit that has change-oriented programs. Instead of giving people water they are creating lasting change. They build wells. Not only do they build wells but they work to make sure that the clean water continues flowing over time. They create water committees in the community, train them on proper sanitation (hand washing, latrines, etc), and fund maintenance programs to keep the wells working. They partner to train mechanics in the community who can keep the wells going. They truly take a change-oriented approach.
The next time your staff sit down to discuss your programs, start a discussion about whether the program is a band-aid or a long-term solution.
Photo Credit: Esther Havens