Expert-Exchange is facing challenges with future operations in Cambodia due to the political climate and the decline in donations. We have come up with a new approach for generating revenue for Expert-Exchange. We have no lack of support with Facebook likes and shares, however, other than a small handful of monthly contributors, we are not receiving the donations needed to accomplish all of our goals. I want to be clear that we are certainly invested with continuing to support the children we have sponsored and fulfilling the promises we made to the locals. Additionally, we do have some exciting new projects occurring in the future and also have a Veteran volunteer joining us in December for a few months!
After analysing the current situation it seems this model is no longer sustainable for us and we have not grown as we had anticipated. One goal of our organization has been to have the ability to sponsor Veterans’ trips so that they are not responsible for the financial burden of funding their visits to Cambodia and instead, volunteering their time to help with development work. We understand that finances are tight and people are hesitant about who they donate funds to and we believe that transparency is key. We also have exhausted options with USAID and other larger taxpayer grants being denied to us due to lack of staff. We don’t feel that we need the staff and have chosen to run a lean team so your donations go directly to our cause and not towards staffing, marketing, and administrative costs. We are prepared in the future with larger grants to facilitate these request, but only upon receiving these grants. Last thing we want to do is hire local staff and have to lay them off. Right now only being dependent on intermittent donations and not being guaranteed enough monthly donations and larger government grants we do not feel comfortable with taking on full time staff.
Our executive director will be shifting the focus to a social enterprise modelthat can help support future operations at Expert-Exchange in conjunction with donations and grants. With this comes a change in direction and tempo for projects being completed by Expert-Exchange. We will plan on doing one focused project quarterly, and additionally will take on other projects with adequate funding. We are still open to more projects; we just need the grants and funding to facilitate our Veterans’ and experts’ travel and lodging expenses while here.
As the executive director I thank everyone for all their support, but can no longer sustain myself financially with the current structure of Expert-Exchange. As a good friend put it, "You need to take care of yourself before you can help other people." I have not taken in any income from Expert-Exchange since its inception and after 3 years, need to face facts. We are not getting the support I anticipated and Veterans do not seem to be joining at the rate I had hoped. It is understandable that Veterans do not want to make the trip out of pocket and I'm grateful for the people who have volunteered and to the Veteran coming next month to help out using their own funds. This truly has been a grassroots effort and it is amazing with what we have accomplished with so little. Just imagine what we could do with proper resources and funding!
To reiterate, we will not turn down future work with upcoming projects and will continue to use our limited funding to support the children we have taken under our wing and fulfill our medical projects. For myself though, I will be switching my day-to-day focus on the for-profit business venture that will help grow local businesses here and, in return, provide funding for Expert-Exchange projects in the future.
Founder & Executive Director
The last few months things have been escalating and tensions between the US and Cambodia governments seem to be at an all time high, which has not hindered Expert-Exchange's work. We do not see the political disputes becoming a problem since we do not involve ourselves in politics and we focus on supporting the development of Cambodia only with their cooperation and approval.
However, we are at a crossroad here in Cambodia and have a very important decision to make pertaining our future operations in the Kingdom. We are focused right now with how to proceed due to the uncertain political environment lately in Cambodia and the lack of funding Expert-Exchange has been receiving Also, the concerning statement from the Prime Minister of Cambodia this week saying that he welcomed the US to cut all aid for Cambodia and making it clear that in the future there is a possibility of US development organizations not being welcomed.
As stated from day one we are not involved politically and we do not have a religious or political agenda. We recognize that we are guests here in Cambodia and respect their government, culture and values. We are not here to push western values, so if Cambodia does not want US assistance in the future we will have no choice but to respect their decision and stop operations and leave.
We will release another more detailed blog before the end of the month that is an absolute must read if you are following our organization and interested in the future of our mission. It has a HUGE announcement about the direction forward with Expert-Exchange. We have been putting a lot of thought and time into this future blogs announcement. Stay tuned!
Executive Director's Blog
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