5 Keys to Expanding Your Non-Profit Abroad



You began your organization with a mission. You provide services or aid to a target population. Whatever your charitable purpose, you are driven by a desire to see change. After establishing your organization, ensuring governmental compliance, building a network of sustainable donations, and seeing your work create change in your community, what’s next?

Your organization may be ready to grow internationally. This ambitious goal requires preparation. Here are five keys to expanding your non-profit abroad.

1. Mission: As you grow, keep your organization’s mission as your main motivator. Many things are going to change, such as your office location and the population you can reach. However, you want to ensure that your mission is not one of those things. Consider the different ways you will need to leverage your donations and how your volunteer needs will change as well. Strategic growth is key to ensuring your purpose does not get lost along the way.

2. Legal Structure: Determine the proper legal structure in your new location. When your organization crosses an international border, its tax status, tax benefits, and other legal requirements will likely change. Familiarize yourself with these requirements before making the move. A qualified legal expert will work to translate the differences for you to set your organization up for success.

3. Culture: Research cultural and language differences between your countries of operation. While some regions may appear to be culturally similar, such as the U.K. and Australia, each location will carry its own cultural nuances that can impact work-related interactions. As you and your volunteers begin working with individuals in your new location, get to know the social norms. Approaching every interaction with respect and understanding will create a more enjoyable work experience. It may even result in new opportunities for your organization.

4. Network: Connect with other organizations. Find other groups who are working towards the same or a similar goal as you. Ask for advice, connections, and resources to help your international launch succeed. This may make your work easier by working in conjunction with those who have already worked through several of the same requirements.

5. Donors: Review your donors. You will likely need increased funding to sustain the organization’s international activity. Revisit your reliable donors and funding sources. Determine where there is room to expand or consider new options for funding. Consider creating an extra incentive, such as a special title, for donors who contribute specifically to global expansion.

1. How to Guide Your Nonprofit Toward Mission-Friendly Growth, by Kevin Xu. 12/06/2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesnonprofitcouncil/2017/12/06/how-to-guide-your-nonprofit-toward-mission-friendly-growth/#308a47df725b (Accessed 4/16/2018).
2. A Nonprofit’s Guide to International Expansion. https://www.galvininternational.com/resources-news/a-nonprofits-guide-to-international-expansion/ (Accessed 4/16/2018).
3. How Nonprofits Get Really Big, by William Foster & Gail Fine. 2007. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/how_nonprofits_get_really_big (Accessed 4/16/2018).

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