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Empowering Communities From Within

The Community Assistance Program at the Hearts of Gold Foundation in Cuenca, Ecuador

· Community Assistance

by Kelly Mitchell

Why do we do what we do?

Let’s get it straight: 75% of nonprofits in Ecuador close within a three-year window. That is a shocking figure, and the Hearts of Gold Foundation is working to transform this statistic. Ecuadorian nonprofits are alone, isolated, and have a hard time finding emotional and financial support. When a community organization and its leader are enduring a difficult time, there is no one to turn to for support, inspiration, or advice. Hearts of Gold wants to see grassroots organizations survive, and even more so thrive despite poor social conditions that make their work all the more challenging.

Local grassroots organizations are working from the ground up to transform at-risk communities to overcome barriers of social inequalities. Without ongoing support and capacity building, these organizations are unlikely to make it past three years of operation and provide the sustainable solutions and critical services to the communities they serve.

Our partner El Arenal with leader Maribel

How did this innovation come to life?

Hearts of Gold has been working hard to best serve the Cuenca, Ecuador community since 2013. We have always been committed to working with local nonprofits, seeking collaborative strategies to ensure that our partners are economically independent. After looking deeply into how we can best achieve this goal, we concluded that the optimum way to support the future of local nonprofits and their communities in Cuenca is to educate the leaders and staff so that they may gain the knowledge and skills to achieve long-term economic independence.

Innovation in Action: The Community Assistance Program

To reach this goal, Hearts of Gold developed its Community Assistance Program (CAP), which provides mentorship, capacity building workshops, solidarity dialogues, and networking opportunities to local nonprofits and their leaders. This program follows 8 target capacity areas that are essential for nonprofit operation: Organizational Infrastructure, Strategy, Finances, Performance Management, Marketing & Communications, Donor Management, Fundraising, and Volunteer Management. By targeting these capacities, and monitoring and evaluating the progress of CAP members, we can know that these nonprofits are in it for the long haul as effective, informed, and viable organizations.

Partners at solidarity dialogue

How do we define success? One nonprofit that kept its doors open through times of trouble. One leader that no longer feels alone. One network that is fostering vibrant organizations.

Educate a leader. Strengthen a nonprofit. Build resilient communities. That’s what we do here at Hearts of Gold in Cuenca, Ecuador.

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