Coaching for Social Impact Pro Bono Project: Many Hopes
The ICF Foundation believes that the global effectiveness of social system change organizations increases with professional coaching. As coaching clients gather new insight, they sometimes influence others around them, like a pebble tossed into a pond, creating an expanding circle around them (O’Connor & Cavanagh, 2013). While we know the efficacy of coaching in for-profit entities, we believe the same to be true for mission-based organizations. To quantify and prove this, we launched our first Social Impact Pro Bono Project at the beginning of 2021, partnering with Many Hopes.
Our intent is to partner with organizations that are pursuing positive, sustainable social change with a mission that is geared toward a United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). The partnerships will focus on applying coaching to move the metrics of the organization’s strategies and goals, ultimately proving the social return on investment of coaching.
Many Hopes works to move children out of poverty provide good health and wellbeing and improve inequalities which align with the UN SDGs 1, 3 and 10 respectively. Many Hopes rescues children for oppression and raises them to be adults of influence equipped to do justice for others, creating an exponential impact. They believe that children born into poverty can be changemakers in their communities. By investing in children, they are setting a great story in motion. In addition to rescuing, nurturing and educating children, Many Hopes goes further: inspiring, empowering and supporting children to prevent those wrongs from happening to others.
The ICF Foundation interviewed Thomas Keown, the founder and CEO of Many Hopes, to share with you their work and provide insight into our partnership.
After visiting East Africa for the first time in 2007, Thomas thought “If my friend back home could see what I’ve just seen, they would want to help. So, I am going to show them.” Many Hopes began because of a six-year-old girl in Kenya named Gift. After her mother died from AIDS, Gift was left to care for her infant brother, who died on the young girl’s back while she begged for food in Mombasa. Thomas, who was there as a journalist and learned of Gift’s story, took her in to care for and send her to school. It was this relationship that blossomed into the work of Many Hopes. “Over the years we grew into a global community of volunteers and fundraisers committed to rescuing and raising children like this young girl,” Thomas shared.
Q: What lead to the creation of your mission and the desire to move the work forward through coaching?
A: More than $1 trillion USD of aid has been spent in the continent of Africa and, while many people have been helped and much progress toward justice made, money alone has not and will not eradicate poverty. We believe that real and lasting transformation of a person or a community or a country must come from within. Yes, with outside help when needed, but fundamentally from within. We spent 10 years creating and testing our model of survivor-driven change in Kenya before expanding to five new countries this year. Key to the success of the model is local leadership and key to flourishing leadership is strong leadership coaching.
Q: Can you tell us about Many Hopes’ process in establishing their social impact goals?
A: We work in partnership with high-impact local leaders or organizations in each of the six countries where we work. The social impact goals are set in close collaboration with our partners. The ultimate long-term goal is for children who have survived injustice to become adults of influence doing justice for others and solving problems that charity alone cannot. To get there we created a set of centralized metrics shared across all partners (raising children from injustice to influence) and a set of decentralized metrics that can be specific to each partner.
Our centralized model is our six-stage child development framework (The Arc to Influence) comprising Rescue, Nurture, Educate, Inspire, Empower and Support. Healing and transformation of a child takes place in different ways at each stage of the arc, but outputs and proxies can be measured.
Q: What interested you in the partnership with ICF Foundation?
A: The single biggest factor that will determine our success or failure in any of the countries where we work is our partner leaders on the ground. We believe that coaching is key to high performance. You would never see an elite athlete without a coach (or even a team of coaches) and the performance of every one of our leaders is much more important than the performance of any athlete on earth. I have personally benefitted from an ICF-credentialed Coach and wanted each of our partner leaders to have the opportunity to benefit as I did. Having someone to talk and share ideas with and identify blind spots and suggest new angles to look at problems and opportunities is so valuable.
For each of our partner leaders in Africa and Latin America, this ICF Foundation partnership is the first time they have received coaching. Leadership anywhere can be lonely and stressful but the nature of our partners’ work dials this up many multiples. This partnership with ICF Foundation is helping all of us flourish. ICF Foundation has been so valuable in their finding of local, culturally appropriate coaches in each country and early reports from coaching sessions have been positive and provided valuable insight.