The Most Important Ingredient for International Partnerships and Staffless Non-Profits

What did I know about starting a non-profit organization in 2008?

The answer is … not much.

I had no public health degree or fellowship. The learning continues and the ride is bumpy.

Following a very successful cervical cancer screening project in 2015, my husband and I relocated to Northern New Mexico. The upheaval resulted in a gap of communication with our team in Adama, Ethiopia. Despite the distance, we were still receiving sporadic data and reports on the work there.

Moving meant interrupting the flow of information from Ethiopia to the United States, it also meant that there could be no fund-raising while we existed in between Ohio and New Mexico and  there could be no funds raised in New Mexico without applying for non-profit status for the state of New Mexico. Banking connections were interrupted for potential donations, and faced the reality that there had not been a single donor at the end of 2017- for the whole year.

By January our choices were clear; love it or leave it. I would either take down the IPRH website and fold up my dreams, the dreams of our partners in Ethiopia, and the anticipation of the women in Adama: or find the courage required to love it, resuscitate it, and re-build.

The courage to pursue the dream of helping to build a women’s health clinic in Adama is like eating an elephant, one bite at a time. Through our fund-raising hosts at GlobalGiving, I was able to access information from TechSoup and Idealware. Using that information on technology, I learned how to do a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunity, Threats) for IPRH  (more about that later).  With the information from the collaboration of  Idealware and Tech Impact’s Nonprofit Tecnology Policy Workbook , the weaknesses and threats posed by inadequate technology were quite obvious for our NGO. Our data collection capacity and on the ground communication capability was significantly under-teched!

Pursuing non-profit status in New Mexico was a bit of a hurdle, but with perseverance we cleared it. The next step for IPRH was a long, hard look at a website re-build.

The courage to face the reality that I am not techlicious and that my day job (OB/GYN) needed me, and that the time it would take to even have a learning curve trajectory meant investing in a re-design. My wonderful daughter, Emily Miller-Ransom (so check out her website: designed the logo for IPRH. My husband, Peter, an artist with an eye for design, loved the logo. But I didn’t love having to slog through WordPress. The job was too big for one person, or even two people. The IPRH website needed a team. Due diligence was done and bids were submitted. We are ever so pleased with Elevation Web!

These decisions and investments in a dream were worth it!

But the most important ingredient required to launch us was the courage to believe we could make a difference in the lives of women.