How We Move Mountains
Proper funding plan for charities - getting it right
Moving Mountains Trust is focused on spending in the right ways, on the right things, and in the right places. Our approach to international development is progressive and innovative and we believe that by investing in developing countries, we can end aid dependency and build a better, more prosperous world for us all.
Getting the relationship between the charity and the beneficiary right is critical, and a lot of time is spent assessing the consequences of our actions using progressive frames of reference and establishing a contract of funding with aims and proper reporting.
All of our funding goes through a process of selection and assessment, and we use established methodologies such as impact mapping to justify the expenditures. The Trustees have a strategy and set of annual aims which are regularly visited and reported on.
We use a system of online budgets and payment spreadsheets for everyone to see and use, and at least three of the UK Trustees are in continual contact with the operations in-country to ensure that the funding process is monitored throughout. All payments from the UK Trust to Kenya, Nepal or Borneo are receipted and accounted for, and all our accounts are signed off by accounting professionals.
Having said that, money is only ever part of the solution, especially when children are involved, and we work hard to make sure that other values are instilled into the MM family spirit such as compassion and of course equality.
How to choose a good charity. Hand out or leg up?
We don’t want to fall into the trap of ‘handout aid’, our purpose is to create the circumstances in which individuals and communities can prosper, which includes generating wealth and promoting social enterprise, and providing direct support where necessary.
We achieve this with a ‘bottom up’ policy that starts with supporting the family, and enabling the people of the community to build the livelihoods they need. We have many heart-warming stories of families breaking out of the poverty cycle, communities turning their villages around, forests being regenerated and successful individuals gaining tertiary education, careers and living their ambitions.
We equip our partners in Kenya, Nepal and Borneo with the means to set up their own local Moving Mountains non-profit and encourage local management and participation in all the programmes and projects, and local ownership. This model has been very successful and ensures equitable partnerships. We also adopt a ‘start small, think big’ mentality which allows projects to progress organically over a long period, and this has generated a high level of trust and shared accountability.
Read about how our new intern Kristina got involved with Moving Mountains, and her thoughts on the way we work here!
Capacity Building for charities
Our strap line claims to change lives and we try very hard to ensure our work is not misunderstood and has a positive long term impact on the beneficiaries. We do this by collaborating all of the time, taking advice, working with the right people and by creating ‘authorising environments’ so that people can manage their own projects and programmes.
To ensure this happens we employ people with a wide range of skills. Our main funding stream is for teachers, medical personnel, counsellors and social workers who teach life skills and act as mentors to young people and their families.
We take young people through all levels of education so that the outcome is a rounded person with a vocation in all sorts of professions, from accountancy to agricultural management. Capacity building is therefore essential to our success, as we help people become the architects of their own success through education and training. We would far rather do a better ‘job’ with fewer beneficiaries and our priority would be the quality of support that we give each individual.
We also focus on improving the prospects for girls and women in developing countries and delivering immediate benefits for poor people by providing education, jobs, skills training and economic opportunities, especially in the tourism sector.
Social enterprise, a business case for development
We view our projects as investments in social capital with aims and outputs and results, so in many cases the money is seed capital for social enterprises which enable people to break out of poverty through business and benefit their community.
This approach builds self-esteem and is culturally acceptable.We develop the concept of social entrepreneurship in a particular environment and build the case for funding.
We deliver a coherent approach to economic development and we believe in helping to build strong business environments in developing countries and improving access to finance and social enterprise for entrepreneurs.
Social enterprise is a driving force for income and progress and increased quality of life in the areas where we work, and our funding helps to achieve this in a way that is consistent with the values of the people that live there.
Wwe work with the local Government authorities and offer our assistance in the 'bigger picture'. Villagers and communities make a significant commitment to the project, which might be in the form of land or labour, but ultimately our work contributes to a national aim which avoids the pitfall of building a 'white elephant' which fails because of lack of collaboration and understanding.
Sustainable Conservation Projects
Another objective in our trust deed is the protection of natural resources and ecosystems, and we have worked hard to learn about the technicalities of difficult tasks like reforestation in remote areas.
We fund the expertise in order to enable the local people to understand the problems and source the technology which might help provide the solution. In the case of our forest enrichment project in Sarawak, we then take practical steps to employ people to collect seeds and eventually transpose saplings into logged areas, ensuring the correct variety of plants and trees.
We also invest in technology which helps to prevent deforestation, for example in Nepal where we buy and install specially designed cooking stoves that use less wood and produce no smoke in the home. Again, we find that a holistic and collaborative approach to complex issues, without imposing solutions from afar, is the best way forward.