One of the questions we get asked most often at GoPhilanthropic is how we find and vet new partners. In reality, it’s a long and intensive process to ensure that potential partners and regions will be the best fit for our community and that we can provide them the resources that they need to support their community. We wanted to share this video and blog post to hopefully shed some light on it!

When deciding to expand into a new country or region, we have established some ‘minimum criteria’ which have been agreed both from the programs side and the travel side, as these components go hand in hand for GoPhil.

Criteria for GoPhilanthropic Foundation

  • An obvious ‘need’ for support (in terms of human rights, education or health issues – our core focus areas)
  • Strong, independent, locally run civil society who wants support from overseas
  • ‘Do no harm’ – we should be able to operate without causing any unintended harm
  • Safe environment for staff to travel in
  • A country infrastructure that allows organizations to communicate effectively. Ie. access to WhatsApp, phone etc.
  • Cost of doing business should be in line with our other regions, to ensure consistent impact of funding (as one of GoPhil’s niches is to be able to provide relatively small grants that make a huge impact)

Criteria for GoPhilanthropic Travel

  • Should be geographically accessible (easy connections to the US) and have decent infrastructure (transport, hotels, restaurants, medical facilities)
  • Offers some sightseeing and cultural opportunities – local culture or history, sights to explore, exciting new foods to try – as these are important aspects of GoPhil trips

For finding new partners within a country, we rely a lot on personal recommendations – from current partners, GoPhil donors and community members, and other funders – so please always reach out if you know of any great organizations doing amazing work as we’d love to hear about them! We also receive speculative inquiries from a few organizations every week and several of our current partners have made initial contact that way.

Our first step in the vetting process is to carry out background research, looking at their website and social media (if they have this) and asking other partners based nearby. The next step would be to schedule a call to get to know each other and see if there might be a good fit and if there is potential interest in all aspects of GoPhil’s partnership (capacity building support and cross-learning opportunities, as well as financial grants). Finally, the most important step is the in-person visit. This involves spending time in their office/ center/ facility, getting to know their staff members, watching their programs take place, and seeing how they interact with their community and beneficiaries. It is where we have to let our ‘gut feeling’ come into play, and to understand how we feel when we are in their presence. Our Latin America Programs Coordinator, Mae, recently shared that after a vetting visit to an organization in Oaxaca she felt ‘magic’ when she stepped into their center and saw their programs in action! That is the feeling we get when we spend time with all GoPhil partners and it is hard to capture on paper or through a checklist. GoPhil partners are all incredible, inspirational organizations running life-changing programs on shoe-string budgets.

Once we have established that there is a good fit from both sides, we invite potential partners to complete a partnership application form. This digs deeper into the governance of the organization (their Board make up, their registration and status, their budgets) as well as their vision and dreams for the future (where would they like to take their organization in a few years from now?). It also asks for information on how they measure their impact and how they learn. All new partners have to be approved by the GoPhil Board of Directors so that these completed application forms are shared with Board members and are discussed and approved at the Board meeting.

The first grant issued to a new partner is always a pilot grant of up to $5,000, smaller than our usual grants of $10,000 – $15,000. This is a ‘testing the water’ grant to make sure the partnership works in action from both sides. Following the completion of a successful pilot grant, partners are able to request increased funding from year two onwards. Although this is a lengthy and intensive process, it pays off – in GoPhil’s 10 year history, almost all new partners have progressed from the pilot phase to become longer term partners. We are proud of the time and care we take in building these new relationships, which help to lay the foundation of mutual trust and understanding in the partnership.

Please do reach out if you’d like more information on our vetting processes and we always love to hear recommendations of great organizations!

Emily – [email protected]