Q: How can we run a Zambian nonprofit based in New England?
A: We don't. Through several trips to Zambia, we set up a partnership with the African Impact Foundation, a great UK and U.S. registered charity and Zambian NGO. We then forged a relationship with St. Mary's School and local primary schools such as the Nakatindi Community School, both of which each have the staffing and experience with sponsored children. With these partnerships in place, we were able to focus more on organization and fundraising. Solid partnerships ensure that our funding will go directly to the school and the young women we sponsor will be able to focus on their classwork.
Q: Do Board members have a salary?
A: No. And all of them donate to Zamfund themselves.
Q: How does the money change hands?
A: Instead of the money changing hands several times, we send our scholarships directly to the St. Mary's School. They will use the money to cover tuition and books. The family stipends are disbursed and overseen by the African Impact Foundation Sponsorship Committee, which consists of two staff members from the Foundation as well as headmasters of the local community schools in Livingstone.
Q: Why not help schools in the United States?
A: Our expertise and passion are focused on helping women in Livingstone, Zambia reach their goals through education. Though we do not deny that clear needs of many struggling students in our own country, we believe our expertise, experience, knowledge and passion best lends themselves to our mission of women in Livingstone, Zambia reach their goals through education.
Q: Why sponsor a child through Zamfund and not another NGO?
A: There are many NGOs doing great work with respect to improving women's education in the developing world. Unfortunately, sponsorship programs in Zambia have a poor track record and very low success rate. Existing sponsorship programs in Zambia typically do not require their students to meet significant academic or personal standards, a practice that is unfortunately highly inefficient and ineffective because many students drop out of the program. A high dropout rate is caused by a number of things, some outside the control of program management, such as family strife and poverty, pregnancy, disease, relocation, religious or cultural beliefs, and others. However, the major problem is that the sponsored students do not possess the personal and academic characteristics necessary for finishing their education.
Zamfund remedies this problem by selecting candidates who are uniquely qualified and prepared to succeed. We use a more rigorous admission process with specific academic and personal criteria, better oversight, feedback, and monitoring of the sponsored student. Instead of randomly selecting for sponsorship any poor child and having little understanding of her aspirations, ability, character, or family situation for sponsorship, Zamfund uses a dedicated and individual-centered approach to discover and provide talented, driven, and qualified female students with the secondary education they deserve. Another critical difference between Zamfund and other sponsor-a-child programs is that Zamfund provides a family stipend to offset the potential loss of revenue a family incurs by enrolling their daughter in high school rather than keeping her working at home. As described in "Why Zamfund," this family stipend model has been highly successful throughout the developing world, including in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Q: How do we set up our own nonprofit?
A: Lots of googling. Lots of calls to other nonprofits. A fair amount of money and tax forms to the IRS and to the State of Massachusetts, and lots of waiting. Much thanks to our treasurer, Colleen Montgomery, who was able to cut through the IRS forms free of charge, and our board member John Ewing, who was able to decipher the legalese. We recommend trusting experts who are willing to donate their time and experience to the cause. We also found that many companies will donate their products to worthy nonprofits - such as Salesforce, Google Apps, and Squarespace, which hosts this website. Thank you, and good luck with your own venture!