At Opportunity International, we see our experienced, resourced entrepreneurial supporters as a major asset to the organization that has led to ground-breaking innovations in our work. Today, in the Harvard Business Review, our CEO Vicki Escarra wrote a piece entitled “Funders Can Give More than Money.” Opportunity International’s staff and supporters are a team of innovators. Vicki’s article highlights the success of our community economic development (CED) projects in Nicaragua as a testament to entrepreneurial supporters courageously thinking outside the box.
Initiated and championed by entrepreneurial contributors David and Donna Allman, and under the leadership of program director Geralyn Sheehan and executive director David Kone, Opportunity Nicaragua’s CED program is partnering with the poorest people in the country.
Opportunity Nicaragua targets rural communities where poverty is greatest, establishing interventions that employ entrepreneurial education, community-led projects, local artisan support and agricultural solutions to empower the people of Nicaragua.
In the piece, Vicki writes:
Fielding calls from donors with ideas is nothing new, but truly listening — even when their ideas challenge the status quo — is a paradigm shift in how nonprofit executives engage with their donors. When presented with a surprising idea, smart organizations will bravely listen, because what comes next might just be game-changing innovation.
At Opportunity, we see experienced, resourced entrepreneurial donors as a major asset for our organization. More broadly, it seems to me that learning to see donors themselves, and not only their checkbooks, as critical assets is part of what turns a nonprofit into a social enterprise.
We hope this article will shine a brighter light on Opportunity’s mission to empower people to work their way out of chronic poverty.