BYU Prepares to Open Humanitarian Center

BYU Prepares to Open Humanitarian Center

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Sammy Linebaugh ReportingA new humanitarian center at BYU is set to open soon in response to a growing interest in setting up local charities providing service abroad.

There have been so many new non-profit groups that now- they are all competing for money with each other, and with older, more established organizations. Now more than ever Utahns see themselves as part of a global community. The evidence is in their willingness to reach out.

But is the help always effective? Are there better ways to galvanize the community's good will? Brigham Young University is taking a look.

Ouelessebougou...a mouthful to pronounce it is the name of Utah's West African sister city. It’s memorable and, therefore, marketable.

Martha Ethington, Ouelessebougou-Utah Alliance: “How much fun do people have with that name? We spell it all the time.”

And in today's competitive climate with more service groups fighting for less donor dollars, any edge helps.

Martha Ethington: "We have been overwhelmed at the influx of new organizations popping up all over the place, I think especially in Utah. I think it's a generous community and there are so many people trying to do good."

Chris Johnson, Choice Humanitarian: “A lot of new organizations have started up in the last five or ten years in this area.”

Choice Humanitarian is another of Utah's oldest and most established service groups finding fundraising increasingly tricky. Much of that has to do with the sluggish economy. But BYU's Todd Manwaring says it's also because the so-called service start-up is on the rise.

Todd Manwaring, Center for Economic Self-Reliance: "There's been a great movement in the U.S. from an entrepreneurial perspective just in general. And there's this new movement of social entrepreneurship, people wanting to start an organization with a social purpose."

Manwaring is the director of the University's new Center for Economic Self-Reliance set to open in January as a humanitarian clearinghouse. In addition to compiling a database of Utah organizations, the center will provide research, taking the best from each project and promoting quality over quantity.

Todd Manwaring: "Especially some with less experience, we really try to steer them toward collaboration. Pick a group that's already there; think about doing things you're interested in. You're interested in literacy? Well, find a group that's doing literacy."

Sustainable development, self-reliance -- buzz words in the humanitarian service industry. Manwaring hopes they become the industry standard so when developing nations come in contact with a small western state in America the impact is not only positive but permanent.

The new center at BYU currently offers monthly workshops where groups can get together and exchange ideas perhaps collaborate. Its doors officially open in January.

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