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The Life-Changing Impact Donor Dollars Make at Mako Children’s Fund

By Paul Needels

At Mako Children’s Fund, our pro-bono US Board works hard to protect and empower at-risk children in remote parts of Ghana. Our work is made possible through the generous donations of dedicated donors – friends and loved ones alike!

At Mako, every dollar counts. It’s inspiring work and it brings a special joy when you know your effort truly makes an impact. As Director of Finance for this board, it is an honor to steward these monetary gifts. For the last 7+ years, I’ve watched donor dollars transform the lives of our children and change communities for the better. With a professional career leading financial institutions here in the US, bringing financial expertise to this mission has been rewarding and otherworldly. 

Over the last few years, there have been seismic shifts in Ghana’s economy, and it’s forced Mako to evolve the way we store, send, sustain and track our funds – that evolution is made possible by Knox Odumah’s unwavering dedication to fund management and transparency. It is his commitment that has allowed us to manage resources on both an immediate and long-term basis successfully. The ultimate goal? To create sustainable impact over the long haul since we are responsible for supporting our children through their formative years: spanning well beyond 10 years!

With donors at our side; we can show up for these children long-term. Mako is their plan A, B and C. We are their way out of poverty and we are their protectors throughout their childhood.

What you may not know is that our US Board is entirely pro-bono and pays out of pocket for much of the US expenses. That keeps our overhead below 10%, meaning $9 out of every $10 goes directly to the cause. To bring you into the financial hurdles, processes and goals of Mako, see below.

Financial Process

1. Cash and Barter Based Economy Rice might be traded for Beans, or a trade-based skill might be traded for a good. Cash is used frequently but printers for receipts are not; so we make our own!

2. Economic Volatility & Inflation

In 2023, Ghana had a 54% inflation spike. This has far-reaching effects on our children and staff. To cope with this 'economic crisis', we decreased our overhead costs and adapted our programs swiftly. It required some hard choices such as sunsetting our school operation and halting on our near-term goals of creative arts and sports programming - but it also revealed hidden opportunities from partnering up with existing educational institutions where children could receive better instruction than before (while allowing staff to apply their talents in new ways outside the core curricula). Although these changes were not ideal shifts at the time, they ultimately enabled everyone involved to continue growing without sacrificing basic needs during difficult times.

3. Children have Important/Urgent Needs

As the guardian for these children, every day brings unpredictable joys and challenges. It can be hard to prepare for each occasion, but with the right funds in place--like our Medical Emergencies allocation which tends to run $300 per month--we make sure that no matter what comes our way - from broken bones on monkey bars to a bad case malaria - we have just enough backup power to support immediate and urgent needs.

4. Covid-19

In 2020, Ghana’s GDP growth rate plummeted from 6.8% to 2.6%. Source: Deloitte 2020. As we all know, the onset of Covid-19 had rippling effects. In 2020, we saw a dramatic shift in philanthropic behavior as many Americans faced financial hardship. As a grassroots organization, we felt the effects like never before. Covid-19 altered giving patterns in terms of both dollar amounts and types of donations given; but Mako is a tribe of donors, advocates, board and local leaders. We never give up. 

Financial Hurdles

Annual Forecasting

A budget for the year is built based on dreams and needs.For 2023, our budget to sustain current operating costs is $110,000 per year.$110,000.00 would let us do the following for an entire year:Care for 24 children full-time. Educate 14 children in primary school.Keep 10 children in high school and vocational programs so they can graduate.Empower 5 children to enter high school and vocational programs in 2024.Support the volunteer educators who tutor our children (Academic Excellence Program).

Our needs and dreams ahead are many. We are working to secure the survival needs and minimum cashflow for stable, sustainable care. Covid-19 and the economic volatility provided us with unprecedented headwinds, as it did many. We look forward to expanding our programs once more. We can deepen the meaning of life and provide children with critical life-skills through income-generating trade classes, sports, music, arts and dance. We see these programs as paramount to our children’s holistic development. Our sights are set on elevating the quality of lives for our children.

Additional matters of critical investment include staff development on safety and training, individualized learning and psychological safety. Furthermore, transportation budgets and parenting courses for the children who do have parents involved - those with wonderful intentions for their children who are not equipped to care for them full-time.

It’s with great love and appreciation that we say, Akpe KaKaKa (ever more thanks) for your ongoing support. We are not only sustaining the lives of these vulnerable and capable children. We’ve co-created economic impact and a transparent financial management system with our Ghanaian counterparts - from Knox Odumah who oversees the local operation to our Ghanaian accountant and bank partners - this is truly a Ghana-centric endeavor . It’s been one of the greatest and most challenging experiences of my life - and I have no intent to give up now.

How to Support Mako Children

Every dollar counts in providing continuous care for our kids. Become a member of our EveryChild and Scholar Collectives, make a one-time donation or get involved as a volunteer or board member today.


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