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How-To Scale Your Impact By Going Small

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"We must not only give what we have. We must also give what we are," advised the 20th Century Belgian Roman Catholic Cardinal Désiré-Félicien-François-Joseph Mercier.

To check out the Cardinal's insight in action and for yourself, watch and listen to the leader of Shine on Sierra Leone explain her commitment to her community:

We know one out of seven people in the world is chronically hungry. 300 million are children. They don't get the minimum daily calories needed to survive. They are slowly starving to death in a global concentration camp of hunger and deprivation.

It's genocide against the poor. A war crime without a war.

Confronted with this massive global scourge, the drive for scale, to make our programs bigger, to reach more people, is understandable, admirable and necessary.

But "scaling programs" is not the only social change worth doing. Economic justice comes in many sizes.

A dogma borrowed from the business world holds that social enterprises should grow larger, achieve economies of scale and become financially self-reliant. But social and economic justice work is not a business. It is your institutional creed - a personal mission - a faith in the future.

Bigger is not always better. There is no ideal organizational size for changing the world.

There is nobility in high-impact, small-scale programs. "What are we really changing if the people we are working with don't feel connected and part of the change?" asks Tiffany Persons, Chief Executive Officer of Shine on Sierra Leone.

Big is not always better. Indeed, as one Twitter follower, tweeted to me, "Many #globaldev solutions work specifically because they're local."

Anti-scale is perfectly OK. Do what it takes to stay connected to your community partners.

Give yourself the permission -- and the authority -- to reverse-engineer the paternalistic instinct to import First World solutions into Third World communities. "In the Sierra Leone community in which I work, we would sit, we would talk, we would create together," recalls Tiffany.

With a laser-focused mission embedded in her soul, she grins, "I'm really the anti-scale! "I'm asking myself how I'm feeling about how big and how fast we are growing. I've decided to focus all of my energy and all of my love into this one community."

Pretty damn awesome. And, Tiffany isn't even a Belgian Catholic Cardinal.