Over the years, as we have engaged with individuals and organizations in Jamaica we have made two general observations:
First, there is a desperate need for funding in very small as well as in very large nonprofit organizations and public agencies. Several individuals have approached us to help them raise funds on behalf of their organizations, and we have worked with several amazing and passionate individuals. However, in some cases we have been sorely disappointed with the level of faithfulness we have encountered, especially as it relates to people just doing the things they have committed to do.
Second, we have also noticed that there is a dire lack of coordination, collaboration, and strategy in nonprofit community development engagement. This sometimes presents itself as competition for recognition in communities where the priority should be to help those in need.
In the midst of all of this, we have confronted the faces of so many with mind-boggling needs who are filled with a sense of hopelessness. This has caused us to pause and to evaluate how we should proceed. We believe that we must insist that nonprofit organizations operate with a level of excellence and in a business-like manner if we are to be fair to the donors we are asking to help fund the projects they want to undertake. In addition, we believe that the time has come for a more strategic approach to confronting the need for change in Jamaica. There is, for sure, some value in providing funds for one-off projects. However, Jalawelo is committed to engaging in ways that will produce outcomes that are sustainable. Decades of history have demonstrated that one-time endeavors have not produced the long-term results we need to see change in Jamaica.
Below are two critical components of our 5-point social engagement approach.
We are committed to investing in communities where healthy collaborative initiatives can be developed between nonprofit organizations working in the community. It is true that each organization must commit to its own mission. However, history and research have demonstrated that there is a need for a systems-wide approach to thinking about structural problems if we are to have a lasting impact on our communities. We want to encourage relationships between nonprofit organizations, community residents, and donors. Collaboration is not about working together on a one-time initiative or providing help and support on an as-needed basis. Collaboration has been defined as “a durable relationship that brings previously separate organizations into a new structure with a commitment to a commonly defined mission, structure, or planning effort” (Perrault et al., 2011).
Our mission is to invest in faithful communities where residents and local grassroots community leaders understand that much of the responsibility for change rests within the community itself. When we think about helping those in need too often we envision a one-way flow of resources from those who are able to give to those who are in need. We send barrels, remittances, and engage in short-term missions trips. History has again proven that this is not the path to long-term sustainable change. Beneficiaries must also be helped to be accountable for the change they desire to see in their own communities.
We believe that, as Jamaicans, we can start a fresh wind, light a new fire that demonstrates what happens when a people come together with the force of their weight against structural problems in their own homeland.
We can see change, one community at a time.
Perrault, E., McClelland, R., Austin C. and Sieppert, J., ‘Working Together in Collaborations: Successful Process Factors for Community Collaboration’, 2011, Administration in Social Work, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 282-298.