Great ideas can sometimes germinate from the not-so-good experiences, or a sense of frustration for how something can be different – and better. The hardest part, yet the most fundamental, is to then take action. When we look at our history, we now see it as a magnificent collection and display of many people taking action, small and large. And when you weave and knit these actions together, they make a tapestry that reflects a common desire to discover and uncover the best in humanity.

2005: A Seed is Planted

Co-Founder Lydia Dean joins a volunteer trip to an orphanage in India and returns home questioning whether her time, resources and intellect could have benefitted the children at the orphanage she visited in a better way. She develops ideas around a newly burgeoning concept— philanthropic travel, in which people learn about, visit and directly support the work of NGOs while traveling.

2007: GoPhilanthropic Travel is Born

GoPhilanthropic Travel hangs its shingle as a for profit social enterprise and begins selling custom-built philanthropic trips for families, couples and groups. GoPhil travelers engage with select grassroots community-based programs and contribute to their needs in person.

By 2010 GoPhilanthropic travelers had contributed over $110,000 in direct donations

  • 17 water wells were installed, 80 repaired
  • 12 mobile libraries delivered
  • 3 sampans boats funded for small businesses
  • vocational sewing program launched
  • 2 classrooms and 2 computer labs built
  • 3 orphanage outfitted with basic needs

2011: GoPhilanthropic Foundation (501c3 Non-Profit) is established

A small team of passionate, globally-conscious women, most of whom had taken a GoPhil journey, begin contributing their time and energy on a voluntary basis to the GoPhilanthropic concept. Envisioning a future where GoPhil could maximize its ability to fundraise and help NGOs become self- sufficient, they decide to register as an international grant making entity. In 2011, Tracey Morrell, Linda DeWolf and Lydia Dean officially co-found GoPhilanthropic Foundation. They raise their first $5,000 by hosting a small wine and cheese gathering for family and friends.

2012 – 2013: “Knowledge and Skills” are as needed much as “Things”

Over the next two years, GoPhil deepens its relationships with eight specific programs across India, SE Asia and Africa providing access to health, education and empowerment. Listening closely to their priorities and assessing their needs, GoPhil realizes that in order to become stronger, their partner programs need assistance in building, healthy, sustainable organizations. They start to couple financial grants with capacity building—helping with strategic planning, budgeting, reporting, communications and evaluation. The donor base grows through word of mouth and enjoy the unique opportunity to travel and personally engage with the programs first-hand.

2013-2014: Networking Building – Inside and Out

Patterns emerge across the portfolio of GoPhil NGO relationships and the team sees great possibilities for programs to cross-learn. GoPhil invests in its first regional network meeting in India, gathering 22 NGOs to discuss common challenges, share best practices and leverage resources. The meeting is successfully replicated on a smaller scale in SE Asia. Alongside nurturing relationships in its “global field,” GoPhil begins to invest in the collective experience and talent within its own donor community. GoPhil hosts it’s first Annual Meeting in Los Angeles where forty donors and involved members brainstorm key strategies for GoPhil to expand its reach.

2015-2016: The Team and Regions Grow

Approaching its 5 year anniversary, GoPhil sees the impact of their investment model as several of their NGO partners show signs of independence and self-sufficiency. Now in a position to take on new partnerships, they expand to Nepal and make a significant impact funding post-earthquake projects. GoPhil hires their first part time staff member (Program Manager) in Nepal, and later hires Regional Development Managers in India and SE Asia. GoPhil extends its NGO partnerships further and expands into Guatemala. GoPhil celebrates its 5th year anniversary in Santa Fe, NM and reaches the milestone of $1M in raised donations with grants made to 26 organizations.

2016-2017:  Defining The Investment Model

GoPhil commits to its model of identifying innovative programs, investing through grants and capacity building, and scaling through network building and cross-learning. Growth comes in many forms — from the launch of “GONews” to share the genuine voices from the field, a successful first year of Founder’s Circle to fund GoPhil’s own development, and the foundation for Hubs are developed in Denver and Santa Fe.

2017-2018: Implementing Steps for Post-Founder Self-Reliance

Feeling the weight of a growing and thriving organization on the shoulders of 3 full-time volunteer Co-Founders, new operational staff are hired and goals set towards preparing for the next wave of leadership within GoPhil where knowledge and wisdom gained to date can be shared and built upon. Evermore passionate about the power of innovation and support at the grassroots, GoPhil launches its first Seeds Grant Program promoting collaborative funding.

2018 – Present Day

Transforming and reimagining have been our focus and we made a sustainable transition from a volunteer-based, co-founder led organization to a part-time paid leadership team. Experience is teaching us that in order to solve global imbalances that exist today, the philanthropic sector must shift towards a participatory, open model of trust and flexibility — values always central to GoPhil. Nearing our 10th year, we work towards ensuring that “profound listening” is present in all aspects of our work.