From July 18th through July 24th, SACIV received a delegation of visitors from Iraq interested in learning more about NGO Administration. Their time in San Antonio featured many productive discussions and many opportunities to learn about new, fruitful ideas they could implement themselves.
The eight visitors began by meeting with Heather Diehl of the San Antonio Area Foundation. They not only discussed the structure and creative partnerships of SAAF, which they found to be a compelling model, but they were also able to learn more about her work leading the Association of Fundraising Professionals in San Antonio. This organization allows for an exchange of best practices and professional networks on a local level to better allow each non-profit represented through their members to succeed in fundraising goals.
Meeting with Scott McAninch later that afternoon, the visitors were similarly treated to two organizational approaches in a single meeting. Scott McAninch not only works to represent the San Antonio NGO community as a whole through The Non-Profit Council, but he also coordinates one of the city’s most esteemed and appreciated fundraising efforts, Big Give San Antonio. Mr. McAninch was able to lend his vast expertise of the entire non-profit landscape of the county and show how a difference is being made through administrative reforms, new tactics, and hard work.
On Friday, the group had two productive discussions. The first was with Roy Maas Youth Alternatives. The group was inspired by the work RMYA does to provide shelter, education, counseling, and tailored approaches to at-risk or trafficked youth in San Antonio. RMYA was also very straightforward in discussing their organizational structure and the aspects of that structure that have made them so successful. However, the group was also able to meet with Chuck Rose, an alum of the Masters Leadership Program. The Masters Leadership Program provides training, networking opportunities, and support for a class of community leaders with the aim of making those individuals better non-profit board members when their education is complete. Many of the visitors expressed interest in replicating such a program in Iraq.
After a weekend kept full with cultural activities like a visit to the Texas Hill Country, the visitors returned to downtown San Antonio for a look at Haven for Hope. They explored the multi-agency campus, the robust organizational apparatus, and even participated in a community service project after a tour of the facilities. The impressive scope of Haven for Hope’s efforts really impressed the visitors as did their meeting with Women’s Global Connection. Women’s Global Connection offered an international non-profit perspective for the group of Iraqi visitors and showed them how even relatively small staffs can have world-wide impacts.
Overall, the time these IVLP participants spent in San Antonio was tremendously successful. Each appointment contributed a new perspective and unique information for strengthening NGO management, improving accountability, building financial capacity, or increasing operational effectiveness. It was clear from the interest the visitors took in each appointment that the knowledge gained here in San Antonio not only impressed them but will make a difference in Iraqi civil society.