Terri Sorensen, CEO of Friends of the Children, knows firsthand the importance of community engagement and research when scaling a nonprofit. The mentorship program started out with 5 local chapters, and with an aim to meet the specific needs of families in new cities, she grew the organization to 30 chapters across America.
But success in one city doesn’t guarantee the success of your model elsewhere; first, Terry says, you need to know if the local community even wants your program. Researching to see if there are existing organizations with similar goals, and assessing whether the program can effect change in the target area, is essential to knowing where to grow your mission.
When interested communities reach out, Terry recommends conducting surveys, meeting with stakeholders, and building support from diverse backgrounds to help each location achieve meaningful change. By focusing on community-driven expansion and learning from past experiences, Sorenson emphasizes the need for a genuine interest and a tailored approach to ensure the program’s success and impact in new locations.