As we developed TheContactProject business model there was a risk I was simply not willing to take: accepting money from others in order to fund your work–whether a foundation, an individual, or a government–because when you take their money, you take on their agenda. At the end of the day, it’s my heart, and my hug, and my handshake on the ground, representing our work. And my agenda is the only one I can vouch for.
Because of the deeply interpersonal nature of this work, it can take time to seed and show impact. Some work has clear cause and effect. Some work lends itself to a straightforward monitoring and evaluation process. Some work comes with agendas that don’t serve people’s interests. Our work lives beyond that.
Our work is rooted in building trust internally and within relationships. Above all else, I need to be able to tell people: this is what we do, and this is why we do it. Anything less than seamless alignment between our word and our work would undermine our credibility, would undermine trust with our partners . . . and that’s just not something I’ll ever negotiate.
So I needed an organizational structure–a container–that would allow us to practice, as an organization, the same values-based approach we teach. And that’s why we became a social enterprise. We maintain our organization autonomy, and work with organizations around the world on a sliding scale: a portion of the profit from our consulting services funds our ongoing work with people in conflict zones and developing countries around the world.
Not only is this level of service and accessibility at the core of what we do, it enriches what we do. It inspires us reinforces our commitment to building relationships across sectors, and across the world–building human capacity for global change.