Katie Hilborn, founder of Global Orphan Prevention, is one of few voices in the nonprofit world that is helping to reshape how charities work. With sustainable solutions like education, social entrepreneurship opportunities, and health initiatives, GOP aids communities in overcoming poverty related issues long term. Her work, which focuses on orphan and child trafficking prevention, keeps families together and thriving. Look for the future release of her book, Guerilla Relief, to hear the story of relief efforts following the 2015 Nepal earthquake.
Below is a quick interview with Katie.
What experiences led you to found GOP?
Since graduating college in 2006, I began traveling to developing countries. Every summer, I would incorporate a volunteer project into my travels. I saw how the developing world lived and as a privileged American, I felt it was my duty to help. I loved making a difference so much that eventually, I applied to work for the United Nations and Save the Children. Unfortunately, such jobs require 10 years experience and a doctorate! It seemed like a Catch-22. So instead, I decided to start my own nonprofit.
In the Summer 2011, I went to Nepal with the intention to do so. After traveling the country for several months, I found that 62% of children in orphan homes had living parents and so, this is how Global Orphan Prevention was born.
"Everyone was helping the orphan homes, but no one was helping the mothers."
Why work in Nepal?
I was drawn to Nepal for the mountains, and once I arrived, I found that the people were some of the most hospitable and loving cultures that I had ever encountered. It just made sense to help them. The gratitude that I receive from them keeps me going; it's easy to help those that are genuinely thankful.
If you had to tell someone about GOP who'd never heard of it before, what would you say?
In addition to tackling the root of problems, we are the future of how the world should look at charity. Instead of simply giving money, we offer sustainable solutions. We are constantly on the lookout for investments in income generation (called Social Entrepreneurship). This means, we will invest in business opportunities for the recipient so that they can become independent and free from the reliance on charity.
"A charity dollar only has one life, but a social business dollar can be invested over and over again."
What have you learned from your work thus far?
From a philanthropic point-of-view, I have learned that traditional charity and welfare is not sustainable. Many nonprofits, donors, and governments simply throw money at problems without taking into consideration how the issues will be resolved long after the charity dries up. The key is sustainability. Give the net, not the fish!
What are your hopes/plans for GOP in the future?
I'm currently seeking a corporate sponsorship and/or grant so that we may continue our programs. In addition, I want to expand our reach to Ethiopia. It seems it's a part of the world that has been forgotten. I will travel there in the next 1-2 years for needs assessment.