Ecuador, LatAm, MPI

MPI Board Update I

Two months ago I joined the Board of Directors for Manna Project International, the NGO I worked with from 2004-2009. What I have learned in our two meetings to date:

On MPI

  • After three years of hard work by Zak, Lori, and MPI crew, MPI’s finances are in good shape. The bulk of MPI’s revenues come from–and are spent on–volunteers, and the team has a good eye on the number of volunteers and trips are required to keep each site in fighting shape. You can read more about MPI’s finances on GuideStar, and our annual report here.
  • Recruiting volunteers is still hard work. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find an MPI Program Director that wouldn’t say that the yearlong experience was worth the fundraising effort, but it’s a tough initial pitch to a debt-laden college grad. MPI-Guatemala, by the way, is recruiting right now. Do you know any outbound college students?

On Board Membering

  • Being a good Board member, like being a good investor, feels like a never-ending job. There’s always something else you can do to benefit a young, growing organization.
  • Given ninety minutes of facetime each month, Boards don’t move very fast. One sixth of the way in, I’d hoped to be able to report more clearly on (a) the state of MPI’s programs, (b) MPI’s plans for growth, and (c) learning how MPI’s approach to development matches up with industry best practices. Zak has promised me that we’ll get to these questions in the second half of the year, so I’ve promised Zak that I’d be patient. In the meantime, fellow Board member Chris Taylor has given me some reading material to keep me occupied.

Lagniappe: Skype’s multi-person videochat function has markedly improved since the last time I tried to use it (c. 2008).

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