Alongsiders is different.
We are moving beyond the old paradigms in mission and non-profit work.
Alongsiders is about the poor and the marginalized reaching out to help their own people, and transform their own communities.
So is Alongsiders an organization (an NGO, charity or non-profit) or is Alongsiders a movement?
Organizations are great at doing research, making plans and policies, developing resources, implementing projects and evaluating impact. Donors like to fund organizations. They are safe and stable. Well planned. Controlled. Professional.
Social movements are messier! They are the tools of those with little power. They are reliant on inspiration, and are transformational rather than transactional. They can be movements that are inspired by the Spirit at work in people's hearts.
People give their lives for movements. They can spark revolutions (like the civil rights movement) and they can transform nations. They are not safe and they are not easily controlled.
Both organizations and movements are needed.
Both have advantages and disadvantages.
That's why we're pioneering something truly innovative to capture the strengths of each.
In Alongsiders we differentiate between Alongsiders International and the Alongsiders country movements that we are seeing established in each place, such as Alongsiders Cambodia.
Alongsiders International is an organization, registered with the government, with a constitution and bylaws and a bank account. We are grassroots but professional. We research and plan what we do. We exist to support the country movements. We create important resources for them to use. We evaluate impact. We plan and support, equip and train leaders.
We do the important work of helping these movements get started and supporting them as long as they need us.
In contrast, Alongsiders Cambodia is more of a movement (and organizationally separate from Alongsiders International). Every Alongsider is an unpaid volunteer, inspired by God, compassionate, giving up their time and resources to love and walk alongside one vulnerable child. They organize themselves into groups, with a leader they have chosen themselves. They meet together to encourage one another and pray. They spread the word and recruit new Alongsiders themselves.
And the beautiful thing is, if Alongsiders International ceased to exist, the movements would go on. Those amazing relationships between each Alongsider and his or her little brother or sister would continue. Because they are not based on some kind of transactional relationship with an outside organization. They are motivated by love, by the Spirit and by compassion.
This is truly the poor helping the poor, for the Kingdom of God.