It’s an honor for me to be a part of the Feed the Children team at a time like this.
We are feeding more kids in more schools than we did at this time last year.
We are growing our reach to serve more children and families in both our domestic and international programs.
The enthusiasm and talent of our dedicated staff grows each month that I get the opportunity to get to know them better.
I am a proud CEO.
But when I look ahead to what’s next for Feed the Children, four key initiatives come to mind. All four are underway today.
1. We are revamping domestic programs to build self-sufficiency.
Unlike our international programming, where Feed the Children adopts a community and develops a plan to bring it to self-sufficiency through our four-pillar approach, our domestic operations have largely centered upon emergency food programs through partner agencies and disaster relief. But this is changing. On this new day at Feed the Children, we want to be known as a US agency that digs deep and stays long in communities where children need us the most.
Soon we will begin after-school and summer feeding programs in several cities. We will also continue to strengthen our educational programming such as our backpack program for homeless students, but expand the efforts to include more collaborative work with local educators and school administrators.
2. We are renewing our emphasis on child sponsorship.
In the past, Feed the Children asked donors to give $10 or $15 when they could, but we rarely asked for a longer term, more relational commitment to our mission. But this is a new day. Child sponsorship can connect those we serve with those who give to help support our mission. We believe in child sponsorship and are excited about growing this program because we feel our unique model works.
When you give $30 a month to sponsor a child through Feed the Children, the funds you give goes to the community in which your sponsored child lives. We do not create a system of “haves and have-nots” in which some of the children in the village are sponsored, receiving new uniforms and shiny pencils, and others are not. When you sponsor a child in a Feed the Children program, the entire community benefits from your monthly donation through clean water, nutritious food, healthcare and education.
3. We are launching a new Feed the Children brand.
As has been the pattern with many in the non-profit sector, Feed the Children has kept to itself and done its own thing. It’s a new day, and we’ve stopped to examine ourselves, the problems we’re trying to address, and how we’ve been approaching them. Every day we are more convinced that going it alone is completely inadequate in the face of systemic poverty and hunger.
Today, we reject isolationism. We are actively seeking to partner with other non-profits working in the same area. For the first time in our history, we joined Interaction, the largest convener group of NGOs in the United States. This was a great first step. But a single step towards working together isn’t enough. We must make sure that our actions match our call to collaborate.
Soon we will launch our new brand and logo. The new visual identity and voice will better tell the story of the new Feed the Children. The needs of children around the world are great, and we can’t do this work alone. Be watching for some big changes in our look and tone of voice soon!
4. We are focusing on internal and external customer service.
Customer service is an area in which most organizations of any size can improve. We are no different. We want everyone who comes in contact with us to feel seen, appreciated and valued, whether they receive some of our services, donate products or cash, volunteer, or work as an employee. We know that we need to do better.
Maya Angelou has said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I believe this is 100% true. If we are not being kind and hospitable human beings to one another in the process of feeding the bodies and nourishing the souls of one another, then what are we doing?
I’ll share even more with you about this area of focus later.
In the meantime, thanks for following and supporting our journey here at Feed the Children. We are glad to have you as part of our global family.
Kevin Hagan is the President and Chief Executive Officer for Feed the Children.