Nonprofit initiatives that either benefit or involve people can find themselves having to adapt as the needs or numbers of participants change over time.
In the book “Tapping Philanthropy for Development” edited by Lorna Michael Butler and Della E. McMillan, Gail Nonnecke, Della E. McMillan, Donald Kugonza and Dorothy Masinde write about the need to prepare for new opportunities and constraints, as happened in the service-learning sector of the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) program, a public-private partnership meant to address the root causes of rural poverty in Uganda.
They write that they learned the following lessons:
- Develop a flexible program structure that can accommodate the addition of new program beneficiaries if and when they can strengthen the core impact of the program.
- Screen potential partners carefully to ensure that each partner has a solid vested interest in the service-learning activity’s success.
- Execute the student program so it complies with the partner institutions’ curriculum, mission and risk management strategies.
- Facilitate the students’ after service-learning efforts to keep them engaged in the program.
- Consider ways to reduce student costs to ensure wider participation.
- When partnering with government bodies/agencies, strengthen the capacity of the local organization to manage and sustain associated service-learning activities.
- Develop creative ways that private benefactor support can be used to design, pilot test and scale up service learning.
- Document the direct and indirect impacts of service learning over time.