When eighth-grader Ayesha scribbled “thank you ADP for giving us a place to learn and grow”, little did she realize the powerful impact her tiny expression of gratitude would have.
The innocence of her gratitude exemplifies the juxtaposed world we live in, wherein basic amenities like clean drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities are but a birthright for some of us. But for many girls like Ayesha, who live in the Natt Kalan village of rural Punjab in Pakistan, the most trivial of daily necessities are classified as a luxury that only a few may experience in their lifetime.
In October 2013, the Association for the Development of Pakistan (ADP) funded and supervised the construction of a secondary school for girls, sanitation facilities and water pumps in Natt Kalan. Echoing the core purpose for which ADP was conceived, the innovative non-profit has not only transformed the lives of students today, but has given future generations the opportunity to have a fair chance at life. From building schools and providing surgical equipment to hospitals to installing hand water pumps and investing in renewable energy facilities, ADP has successfully funded over 50 projects with disbursements in excess of US $450,000 to date, not to mention the 160,000 people or the countless communities that have been transformed through their efforts.
Working on the ground
With more than 16,000 registered NGOs in Pakistan as of 2001, there is certainly no shortage of NGOs involved in healthcare, poverty reduction, education and infrastructure. The ADP, however, stands out amongst the crowd through its focus on building institutions rather than delivering services.
Registered in the United States for over a decade now, ADP funds carefully selected sustainable projects and local NGOs in Pakistan working in a various sectors such as healthcare, education, water and energy. Powered by more than 250 volunteers globally, ADP works with a “rare breed of thinkers and doers” to lead the diligence cycle to ensure that funding is directed predominantly towards high impact sustainable projects.
According to Sabah Baxamoosa, head of Marketing and Communications, “ADP is about investing your talent and skills, getting your hands dirty and grappling with real-life development issues on the ground.” Sabah says she personally signed up with ADP because it allowed for volunteers to put themselves in the shoes of the beneficiaries and actually realize the impact of their efforts.
Following the initial internal screening process, an assigned project team of 5-6 people is sent to conduct rigorous evaluations in the form of site visits, interactions with the local population and due diligence to validate the requirements of the community. Once approved, ADP ensures the local NGO delivers the promised goods through a stringent deliverable checklist and running payments, which are controlled by treasurer and ADP co-founder, Tarim Wasim. Wasim holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a B.A. in Computer Engineering from Dartmouth College.
Not one to provide temporary solutions, ADP sets itself apart by bridging the gap between donors, non-profits and talented individuals to channel funds exclusively towards high impact projects in the country.
Dealing with organizational transparency
Often a key deterrent to charitable donations, an organization’s lack of transparency is a common yet valid excuse that makes people shy away from munificent contributions.
According to Wasim, this excuse does not allow for a ‘thriving, robust non-profit sector which can actually drive development.’ To overcome the barriers of transparency, the Association for the Development of Pakistan regularly publishes monthly donor reports of ongoing projects, financials and timelines with fundraising updates sent to contributors a regular basis.
“Transparency is too important to be left to best intentions,” writes Michael Jennings, a senior lecturer in international development at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. “[There is a] need for transparency and openness in organizations that work in the development and humanitarian relief sector. Not just because they receive and spend hundreds of millions…but because their decisions affect the lives and prospects of some of the most marginalized people in the world.”
By providing donors with measurable outcomes and the opportunity to realize the magnanimous difference their donations are making, the organization befittingly continues to draw immense support from volunteers, donors and NGOs. With countless sustainable projects both, ongoing and in the pipeline, ADP continues to ensure the permanency of the impact they create doesn’t just change lives today, but constructs new dimensions for a hopeful tomorrow.
Even after a project’s completion, the ADP project teams continue to measure impact by monitoring several key performance indicators. This post-funding observation phase is carried out for a period no less than twelve months before certifying the success of the initiative.
When the water solutions division of ADP installed a solar-powered water pump in the Nasrullah Sand village of Tharparkar, for example, the main aim was to provide clean drinking water to local residents by reducing the burden of manual procurement. Various key metrics monitored for the project included the number of households benefiting from the technology, and longevity to measure the perennial impact of the pump; which only reaffirms the organizations’ commitment towards permanence and sustainability.
When ADP received a letter from Ayesha’s classmate, her unabated expressions of “we are safe now” testify to the fact that the ADP has once again lived up to their promise. The organization’s tag line “Smart Giving” reiterates the idea that even the most modest of contributions can leverage the highest impact and empowers every individual donor to take change into their own hands by contributing to causes they are passionate about. Being involved allows individuals to categorically realize the impact of their donations and witness how the smallest of gifts can significantly transform someone’s life.
Co-founder Wasim says “there is no silver bullet, no single answer to all the problems.” But today, with several strategic projects in sustainable healthcare, education, water and energy spread out across the nation, the Association for the Development of Pakistan is slowly but significantly changing lives, empowering individuals and boldly reshaping the future.