There is no question that the Internet has given us a new “reach” beyond the normal borders our organization used to work within. Thanks to improved communication and access to relatively low cost transportation your organization may soon be looking at global issues and opportunities - if you have not begun to already.
If you don’t think of yourself as having global possibilities, consider the following:
- The needs you address probably exist in other countries
- Because of the world wide web, your programs are now reaching or being requested by constituencies in other countries who may not have the expertise to design similar programs themselves
- There may be a desire to create formal extensions of your organization (chapters, affiliates, etc.) beyond our borders
- Individuals in other countries might believe there is an advantage to being a donor to your domestic (US) organization (knowledge base, belief in your broader vision, etc.) and to support your mission.
- Your organization and similar organizations in other countries may see the advantage of strategic alliance, both from an economic and educational standpoint.
- Internet technologies give you the ability to communicate as easily with people on the other side of the world, as with those on the other side of town.
Each nonprofit is faced with having limited resources that must be continually stretched further - particularly since the needs for which our organizations were formed have not diminished! Have you considered assessing the value of leveraging your resources by replicating your programs/services beyond our borders?
What opportunities do you see to leverage resources and better serve your donors, the constituency you were formed to serve and your mission?
Here are a few advantages to think about when considering a global approach.
- Additional resources that might not have previously been known to exist (grants, volunteers, research, facilities, etc.) may be available to you.
- An opportunity for improved efficiencies due to more effective sharing of resources and knowledge.
- An expanded knowledge base and perspective allowing you to better serve your constituents while gaining a worldview.
- Potentially better opportunities to communicate your mission, find new supporters, and truly make a difference.
To effectively extend your work globally it is critical to create a mechanism whereby you research/monitor the related rules, protocols, opportunities and pitfalls of each target country. You will need to know the economic climates in these countries as well as rules on legal/governmental compliance. In addition, you will want to learn the common cultural protocols.
If you are considering expanding into other countries either by creating chapters or strategically aligning with others, the following is a list of common, while certainly not all-inclusive considerations:
- Learn about tax treaties with target countries.
- Learn about compliance in target countries.
- Establish firm protocols for entrance and ongoing inclusion into such an arrangement and follow up regularly.
- Learn about liability and risk relative to such transactions and protect the Organization, accordingly.
- Learn the cultural differences in language and communication – this is especially true for your emails and website.
- Create excellent communication mechanisms (this is by far the most important element) that will “shrink” the distance and expand the relationship.
Remember, above all, we are citizens of the world!