When two Oklahoma City-based charities that support the poor across the globe — World Neighbors and the much larger Feed The Children — joined forces in March, the goal was to use less money for overhead and more for direct help.
Before the move, World Neighbors suffered from the nationwide drop in charitable giving lingering from the recession. After World Neighbors became a Feed The Children subsidiary, the larger nonprofit assumed responsibilities for World Neighbors' administrative support, including human resources, finance, information technology, marketing and communications, and much of the fundraising.
The change is paying off.
“The missions of our two organizations are very complimentary, and it is going really well,” said Melanie Macdonald, president and CEO of World Neighbors. “They want to learn our (sustainability and international development) methodologies, and we have a real opportunity to teach it to our own and Feed The Children's international staff members. They have a good budget, the resources we would never have, and we were very anxious to have that help and logistical support.”
World Neighbors' struggles began with the economic downturn that began in December 2007.
“Before the Great Recession,” Mcdonald said, “World Neighbors was firing on all cylinders and had a budget of $10 million. But a lot of our donors were impacted by the economic downturn, and we lost 40 percent of our revenue. It was a terrible time for all nonprofits … and we lost a lot of terrific talent.”
The charity once had 160 employees, but layoffs in 2009 brought the staff down to 70, she said. While the economy has improved some in recent years, charitable giving is nowhere near pre-2007 levels. World Neighbors now operates out of Feed The Children's headquarters with just four staff members. The team manages 45 field representatives around the world.
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