The mission of Global Outreach Alliance (GOA) is to empower communities by promoting self-reliance through education, mentoring and sustainable development solutions. As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, we seek to empower communities in a non-paternalistic and respectful manner to improve quality of life by identifying areas of strength and available resources, then collaborating with locals to find solutions. After all, it’s their community and their projects. We’re simply there as a partner in their community development.
Our approach differs from the mainstream non-profit world significantly in five ways:
- Unique Model of Giving: 100% is powerful. We believe donated funds should not be given to sustain organizations; they should sustain the people/communities for whom the monies were intended. We guarantee that your donation will go right to those who need it most. For example, write us a check for $1,000 for a school project in Uganda to allow education to reach more children, or a community well project to triple rice yields in Cambodia, and 100% of your donation will go directly towards that specific project (as opposed to being used for any bit of salary or overhead). We cannot preach and support self reliance programs unless we as an organization are self reliant ourselves. That is why we, as a board of directors, all have other primary means of income outside of GOA. With no need to pay for expensive administrative overhead or office space, your investment to help fund a project or participate in a volunteer expedition is an affordable and effective way to make a big difference.
- Responsibility: We feel it is our responsibility to invest in change that will work for individual communities to improve lives in a sustainable way. Sustainability and achieving meaningful results is our responsibility. Hence, in the realm of community development, we protest against handouts. Any form of aid or intervention should promote self-reliance and independence from aid. Continually giving people stuff is not good global citizenship. Despite coming from a place of good intent, handouts do not promote self-sufficiency, but rather, create dependency all while crippling local micro-economies. Handouts create more harm than good. Our responsibility is to teach how to use the “hook,” not to give out the “fish.”
- Local Ownership & Partnership: Local ownership and collaboration are not only the prerequisites for instigating a project, they are crucial to its success. Local problems are best remedied by local solutions, not by “know-it-all” foreigners implementing self-interests and Western savior-agendas. GOA establishes the headquarters for each project locally to encourage organic development, homegrown solutions, use of local resources, and local involvement. (e.g. GOA-Kenya, GOA-Uganda, etc.). We begin by learning as much as possible about the people who will benefit from our work–-their lives, their struggles, their victories, their needs, their aspirations–-rather than starting with a preconceived hypothesis about what they need. Once we understand, we join the global village in a non-paternalistic, direct partnership to achieve results of impact with the objective of reaching local, long-term community goals.
- Volunteerism & Cultural Immersion: We run on a spirit of volunteerism–from our board to our global team expeditions–we love to give of our time, talents and treasure. We are committed to assisting those who volunteer for global expeditions to become as immersed in the local culture and ways of life as possible. We protest against engaging in “poverty tourism” or “hug-an-orphan” campaigns that may only seek to pull heartstrings and do not emphasize the dignity of the local people who are doing the best they can to provide for their families under difficult circumstances. For instance, some service groups will go tour “poor” villages and take photos of orphans; our groups work with locals to build schools and implement projects to meet local opportunities for sustainable development. Moreover, if you come on one of our expeditions, you will be involved and active in projects that will continue even when you’ve left the country. Your impact will be felt long after you’re gone. We tap into our volunteers’ unique skills and expertise to meet local opportunities for development. Our volunteers find that engaging in selfless service is frequently a catalyst for personal change. As one volunteer who built houses in Cambodia stated: ”All of us were changed by the profound exchange of love and service. We had given them new houses to live in, they had given us a new way to understand living” (Sallie, California).
- Positivity: Take a look at the pictures and messages we share on our website and on Facebook. You will see positive, uplifting and happy faces. You will see messages that promote kindness, charity, respect and love. You will never see “poverty porn” (malnourished, starving, famine-stricken human beings). It’s not to say that form of suffering does not exist. It does. No doubt, there are severe challenges the global village faces daily–that of extreme poverty, corruption, inequality, inadequate health and educational services, etc. However, we protest against organizations that only portray the suffering and heart wrenching ‘bad’ in countries they work to serve in order to earn emotion-triggered donations. This, we feel, is degrading and dehumanizing to those who are victims of this form of exploitation. There is so much good–there is so much to celebrate. Remember, there is no such thing as “underdeveloped.” There is only “developing.” We protest against the use of “poverty porn” and stories that degrade and diminish all the good that is being done by men and women of worth and integrity. Negativity should never justify calls for assistance. Our interrelated humanness, sincere desires for authentic partnership, and the hope of learning something from each other is why we do what we do.