Feed The Children and World Neighbors, both Oklahoma City-based international nonprofits, announced Tuesday that they will team up to provide long-term aid to impoverished communities around the globe.
World Neighbors, which has worked to improve standards of living in remote parts of the world since 1951, will become a subsidiary of Feed The Children on March 1.
“Feed The Children will become the parent agency,” said Melanie Macdonald, World Neighbors' president and chief executive officer.
But her nonprofit “will continue to have a separate board and separate papers of incorporation,” she said. “We'll be the same as we've ever been, with the same goals, but we'll be able to expand our reach greatly across the world. We'll have opportunities we've never had before.”
World Neighbors, which is selling its headquarters on NW 122, likely will occupy the second floor of a Feed The Children building near Meridian Avenue and S Enterprise Avenue.
Feed The Children, one of the country's largest nonprofits, will take on the smaller organization's human resources, finances, information technology, marketing and fundraising responsibilities.
That alone will relieve World Neighbors of a $1.5 million annual burden, Macdonald said.
World Neighbors, which was founded as a secular organization by a Methodist preacher, has worked with more than 26 million people in 45 countries. Its focus always has been on long-term development. The nonprofit allows community members to determine which problems they want to conquer, such as lack of potable water or limited business opportunities, then educates them on how to accomplish their goals over a period of years.
World Neighbors employs about 60 to 65 people, most of them field workers who are natives of the countries in which they work. Ten Oklahoma City workers are expected to lose their jobs in the merger, Macdonald said, although they may be eligible for similar positions at Feed The Children.
Kevin Hagan, Feed The Children's president and chief executive officer, said his organization likely will add new jobs as it takes on the additional administrative duties.
Hagan, who was hired last year, said World Neighbors' work dovetails neatly into the greater goals of his nonprofit. While Feed The Children feeds more than 350,000 worldwide each day, it also wants to help eliminate the need for its services.
The organization's child-focused international community development model emphasizes four areas of need: food and nutrition, water and sanitation, health and education, and livelihood development. Continuing to assist a community until it is self-sufficient is key to the model's success.
“World Neighbors' focus fits perfectly in our child development model,” Hagan said. “They have been doing sustainable community development for more than 60 years, decades before most nonprofits got into sustainable development.
“That's the primary, biggest thing that Feed The Children gets out of this: access to that incredible program.”
Macdonald and company will provide information and instruction on their work to about 750 of his workers, Hagan said.
“We're immediately going to begin integrating that program through our network,” he said.
Hagan and Macdonald think the merge may inspire other nonprofits to team up.
Smaller nonprofits have fought to maintain cash flow since the economic downturn in 2008; partnering with a larger nonprofit could breathe new life into struggling organizations.
While Feed The Children doesn't currently plan to extend its umbrella beyond World Neighbors, Hagan said he'd be interested in hearing from other small nonprofits.
“We are sending a loud message to the industry that Feed The Children is here; we're back; we're stronger than we've ever been, and we're ready to take our proper place on the global stage … to figure out the best way to meet the needs of children around the world,” Hagan said.
“I hope Oklahoma City is proud of this,” he added, “because Feed The Children by itself is one of the biggest relief efforts in the world. By combining our activities with World Neighbors, Oklahoma City really has taken its place as one of the major relief centers in the world.”