An article in today’s New York Times on the challenges of providing foreign aid points to an initiative lead by the philanthropist and global economist Jeffrey Sachs called Millennium Villages. The Villages is an international development model designed to help rural African communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty.
What it aims to do is the near impossible. Like many of our nonprofit clients, it must carefully balance an ambitious, if ultimately rewarding, agenda with finite resources.
The early success in The Village’s first test community, Sari, Kenya, is remarkable. Agricultural yields have doubled, child mortality has dropped by 30 percent, and school test scores have shot up.
Sachs attributes this amazing success to programs and objectives that are tightly focused, based in technology and relatively straightforward.
I think, given those simple criteria, that lessons can be learned for organizations that seek to make a similar impact in communities around the country and globally: keep your goals focused, your methods clear-cut and your aim realistic.