A Not For Profit Life

Learning the in’s and out’s of a non-profit can take a bit of time; more than a month for sure. Every non-profit has a core cause, this one is orphan care. During the last month, I’ve learned about the 45 unique orphanages that Serving Orphans Worldwide helps support. I’ve looked at countless pictures and read through so many forms that at the end of the day my eyes hurt from staring at the computer screen. I’ve never been to any of these homes, so this is the only way that I can catch a glimpse of what SOW does. The wealth of stories from staff members who have visited certain homes come pouring out, sometimes with out warning and I start to understand the true crisis of orphan care.

Past the pictures that frame little children and teenagers in the countryside of Uganda at Rakai Children’s Village…

…past the eyes of girls clinging tightly to to their new sisters at the Living Pearl Orphanage in the Ukraine…

… past the laughter of children that explodes from photographs of the streets of Cambodia; there is a thought that runs through my mind. “What limits need to be pushed or changed within the organization that will allow SOW to operate more effectively in giving orphaned children a better quality of life?”

Serving Orphans Worldwide, seeks to walk along side already existing Christian children’s homes, not create new homes. I think they realized something key in the non-profit world; Someone is already doing what you are passionate about. A lot of founders have the passion and the heart for the cause, but they also carry a ‘from the ground up’ mentality. You don’t have to start from scratch when God gives you a vision. By partnering with existing orphanages, SOW strengthened their foundation as a new non-profit. This principle can be applied to your non-profit no matter what stage it is in. This allowed SOW to accomplish more without having to build, furnish, and staff brand new orphanages.

How can your passion be partnered with an already existing non-profits or businesses to produce maximum output?

At this point, the organization is beginning to grow and partnering with orphanages has provided healthcare, Bible study, education, food, clothing, shelter, and loving caregivers in homes, reaching more than 5,700 children. This is that moment in the non-profit when you have something to high five about, but don’t stop there, it’s not the peak of the organization.

What can be improved? How can each home provide better care? What is the next step of growth?

For these questions I consulted The 5 Life Stages of Nonprofits: Where You Are, Where You Are Going, and What to Expect When You Get There by Judith Sharken Simon. Now, I can’t speak for the organization. Please realize I am only an intern and this is only my analysis of Simon’s theory placed in a real life example. I think SOW is somewhere in between the Incubation Stage: ‘How do we get started?’ and Adolescent Stage: ‘How do we build this to be viable?’ Incubate and viable are scientific words in nature and tend to talk about biological factors. To get all Nat Geo on you, incubation is the period of time when an egg is laid, yet hasn’t hatched. It’s the process, in which the mother takes great care to keep that egg at a suitable temperature so it can hatch successfully. Back there when I was talking about high-fiving, that was the hatching or the developing.

Founder of Serving Orphans Worldwide, Dr. John Gregory planting a tree at the City of Hope Orphanage in Sri Lanka

SOW developed when it implemented a system successfully that has helped support numerous orphanages since the founder dreamed of rescuing orphanages from being closed, due to financial circumstances. The next phase is surviving after the hatching. When something is viable it has the ability to live successfully. Now that SOW is breathing, walking, and talking, what are the next steps that the organization can take to ensure a successful life? Where can changes be made or programs developed that will bring about the type of life that SOW will lead as a nonprofit?

The vision of orphan care through SOW can widen to new programs of sustainability in the orphanages that give the leadership in some homes the skills to pursue their own food, business, finances, and resources. The vision can widen to promote plans that will allow children who age out of the home the feeling of being equipped for adulthood. The vision of orphan care can also be narrowed as we sift through things that need to be eliminated in order for SOW to live successfully. This would also allow for the quality of existing programs to be raised as they are examined and fine tuned. Serving Orphans Worldwide can become a brand that is identified within various cities, communities, and countries, as volunteers serve as ambassadors.

In our individual lives, we walk with Jesus as closely as we can and this always includes changes that can be uncomfortable, but these are the times when God is refining us for His unique purpose. Let us walk as an organization into the plans that God has for us, as we embrace the changes (even those uncertain and uncomfortable ones) In this we can be certain that we are being refined as an organization, so an orphan can feel love for the first time and because love his or her life will never be the same.

Story by: Abigail Causey

Photos by: Mia Baker