Nonprofits from the inside out
Recently I have been very fortunate to be a co-founder of a nonprofit: Basa Village Foundation USA. Wow, this is a lot of work! Welcome work, to be sure, following my passions, yet a lot to think about.
Initially I went to Nepal simply out of my passion for adventure and experiencing new cultures. While there and talking at length with the US-based organizer, Jeff Rasley, I discovered there were some initiatives underway to increase the standard of living of the town of Basa 6. These included composting toilets, hydro-electirc and smokeless stoves. Jeff had already raised money through his own initiatives to help pay for teacher salaries there. Jeff has proved to be quite an effective parton for Basa and through working through village leaders has followed up on these initiatives.
At 14,000 feet, up in the Himalayas we convened to decide how to move forward with some new initiatives. We decided to create a new nonprofit foundation to formalize and fund these initiatives. Members pay $100 annual dues. These dues go to internal costs. Members become part of the active committees (below). Projects are funded by donations.
There is an interesting discussion here that has been ongoing - how to impact 3rd world cultures without imposing our values and ideas on how things should be run. We decided that letting the village leaders suggest initiatives and discussing with the organization there (also called Basa Village Foundation) how to proceed. I've had some great conversations around this with some wonderful nonprofit leaders such as Britt Yamamoto of iLeap, Sammie Rayner of Lumana, Bob Ness, and Mari Hirabayashi of Jolkona. These connections are so valuable in understanding best practices and what works and what doesn't. The biggest lesson I have learned is listen to what the locals on the ground are saying. This ability to observe and listen are a tough skill especially when as an American businessman I expect so may things from my peers!
We formed committees to oversee various areas of impact:
- Health, Fitness and Sanitation
- Education and Youth
- Culture and Tradition
I am a member of several. Since we are a distributed team of members we have been communicationg through Skype, email and phone calls. It is an interesting process and I look forward to talking about it more.
We do have one current initiative to build a Clean Water System so the 62 homes will have clean sanitary water to create a better life and offer improved health benefits. You can read about it here and please donate if you find this compelling.