Global Communities practices community-led development. We engage with communities through participatory methods that begin with community-wide meetings and lead to elected community councils. The council then leads the decision-making and prioritization process.
The council and community are closely involved in contributing to the project through money, labor or materials, designing the project, appointing local contractors and dealing with local government and other bodies who need to be involved in the project. When completed, it is the council that signs off on the project, before receiving ownership. Involvement and ownership translate to a higher likelihood of long-term sustainability.
Completed projects often must be maintained by the local government, which needs to be involved from the earliest stages of design. In many of the countries where we work, especially post-conflict settings, local government and community interaction is uncommon, so Global Communities plays an important role in providing training to both sides on how to interact constructively. When necessary, Global Communities engages all levels of government in a project from the beginning to ensure their support.
Global Communities also engages with local organizations, faith-based, community-based, or otherwise, in our project design and implementation. They bring local knowledge and expertise to our work. At the same time, we work to build their technical capacity.
Global Communities believes that understanding the role of the local and international private sector is essential to empowering communities around the world. Our experience is that the private and not-for-profit sectors can learn from the each other and that the interests of the people we work with are best served by the two sectors doing business together with a double bottom line, matching commercial and community needs.
“How can we get the most for our development dollars?”
This is an important question being asked more and more frequently. Global Communities’s answer is leveraging. Global Communities is funded by many organizations, from US government bodies to overseas development agencies, major foundations, corporations and loyal supporters of our work. We are also funded by the private sector, communities and governments in the countries where we work, worldwide.
Governments, corporations and organizations who wish to undertake development may find it difficult with limited funding; but Global Communities is able to bring investments together to maximize the positive impact of these funds and achieve more “for our development dollars.”
Overall, this means that Global Communities’ total expense on administration and fundraising each year is under 10%, one of the lowest levels among international NGOs. The funds we receive are put to their maximum use in an efficient, effective and accountable manner, with positive results for millions of people around the world each year.
“Building capacity” means improving a country or a community’s ability to meet their own needs more effectively. Effective capacity building happens when a country’s local knowledge interacts with outside expertise that is not present in that country. And it works both ways – the local and outside experts learn from each other.
Global Communities’ experience is that the most effective model for staffing a project is a small number of expatriate technical experts working alongside a large corps of expert local staff members. So Global Communities operates with between 95-100% local staff in any given context. Expatriates bring technical expertise that may not exist in a country and they can bring ideas and initiatives from other environments. Expatriates need not mean ‘American.’ Global Communities uses regional expatriates and, additionally, many of our local staff become expatriate technical experts in other countries, engendering cultural understanding and knowledge exchange from Haiti to Iraq and Serbia to Afghanistan.
As a country’s local capacity increases, expatriate staff can be phased out, as in the case of our lending institutions, most of which are already in the process of becoming locally registered companies, run entirely by national or regional staff. This model of partnership makes it possible for countries to learn from each other, for technical expertise to be transferred in a timely and useful fashion – and to create communities and societies that are self-directed.
The nature of Global Communities' work means that our vision of a better world is one where we no longer need to exist. And this is what we are building. Our focus in any program is to build the capacity of the local population to undertake their own development.
Global Communities does not embed itself in a country. Where there is a demand and a need, we address it. But throughout the process of addressing that need, we aim to build the capacity of existing local organizations or create legacy organizations that can do our job when we leave.
Every cent we spend is accountable to the donor, whether the US government or individuals from around the world. Global Communities is accountable to US law, undergoes strenuous annual audits and fulfils all legal requirements to ensure that the people we employ and our beneficiaries are those intended to benefit from our work.
Global Communities measures the progress of each program according to strict standards set by our donors, and we report back to them on a regular basis. Global Communities undergoes strenuous audits on an annual basis. Additionally, we give regular updates on our website and in our publications of our achievements and lessons learned on our projects.