May 21, 2012
This past week, I was reminded again of the value of partnerships. Our model of care is a very niche model which focuses on a segment of people and care that is vital but often overlooked. I also contemplated how ineffective our model would be if we tried to cover the spectrum of care and failed to utilize strategic partnerships with organizations that do some things much better and cheaper than we could.
Without partnering with the local church, we would have to build facilities to house our work.
Without partnership with microfinance organizations, we would have to become a lending institution with much greater administrative support and infrastructure.
Without partnerships with local hospitals, we would have to staff doctors and nurses, handle the collection and distribution of medication, etc.
For one family to receive nine months of care in our program, it currently costs about $320 which includes the administrative support and oversight. In a world where CARE for AIDS tried to own all parts of the care spectrum from diagnosis, to treatment, to counseling, to education, to financing, to empowerment, etc., the cost of care would skyrocket to at least a few thousand dollars per client.
This past week, I spent some time with a fantastic organization called Feeding Children Everywhere. They were founded in response to the crisis in Haiti, but they have exploded in the last two years. They are now mobilizing volunteers nationwide to pack and ship food to areas of need around the world. This year, CARE for AIDS will spend over $125,000 on food for our clients and their families. It is such a vital part of our process because it helps our clients take their medication on a full stomach, strengthen their immune system, and feed their children while they are out of work. While this part of the process is so vital, providing food is not our main mission or objective. Our main objective is to help as many families as possible affected by HIV have hope for this life and the next. Providing food is just one way we do that. If we established a strategic partnership with an organization like FCE who could not only help us save money on our food expenses but also help us focus on what we do best, so many more people could receive the care they need to live long lives and raise their kids.
So, in summary, why is partnership so important?
1. If we try to do everything, we won’t do anything well
This is a principle that I have preached since day one of this ministry. Ever since we decided to scrap a weekend program we started for children in a community in Kenya, we have been relentless about focus. Partnerships allow multiple parties to better accomplish their individual goals by working together. The Bible describes the body of Christ as one body with many parts. We are very thankful that can just be one part and rely on other organizations to complement us.
2. Donors have more confidence that their dollars go farther
Donors are always interested in who we partner with. Not only does it give us credibility, but also it multiplies the value of their dollar. They know that they are paying a fraction of the actual cost of care because our strategic partners are covering the rest. That provides great assurance for donors.
3. It keeps the focus more on the mission and less on the organization
It is so easy to think about what can make our organization more successful or visible or what can help us raise more money. However, the real question is, “How can we better accomplish the mission that we are called to?” Strategic partnerships may mean less credit for your organization, but at the end of the day, more people are receiving care. That is a win for us.