• Charity Chat Podcast

E145 - Small Charity Leadership with Macarena Martinez

“We are not direct members of those exact communities that we want to be involved with, so having local leaders, local agents of change I think it’s also very very important when we talk about impact because who knows better about what a community needs, wants than someone from within that community”- Macarena Martinez

In this episode, we speak with Macarena Martinez, Programme Manager at Latin American Foundation for the Future (LAFF). We discuss LAFF’s partnership model, challenges they have faced over the last year and the importance of their work in Peru. LAFF contributes to quality education in Peru through their Quality education programme and Personal development programme.


1. Why LAFF’s partnership model is key to small charity success


LAFF’s partnership model allows LAFF to deliver their mission without needing to invest in a big team and be efficient with resources. It also allows the organisation to create a big impact with little resources.

LAFF has three main partners in Cusco including Azul Wasi, Casa Mantay and the Sacred Valley Project, all of which offer the support directly to the young people and have their own goals and missions. LAFF supports their partners with funding education and educational workshops. They are also responsible for the capacity building programmes, for the leaders of the partner organisations. LAFF identifies different areas of internal aspects of the organisation and ways in which they can collaborate to achieve improvements, such as support with fundraising efforts, monitoring their impact or governance. The partnership model LAFF has, allows them to have not only short impact for beneficiaries but to also have longer-term impact because they are contributing to organisation’s longer-term delivery and success.

In this episode Macarena acknowledges the difference between LAFF as an international organisation, which is not a direct member of the communities that benefit from their work. Instead, the partner organisations are the local agents of change. The founder of LAFF, Sarah Oakes met people in Cusco with a similar shared vision, people who were already in Cusco, who wanted to create change.

2. The challenges LAFF has overcome in the last 12 months


LAFF’s main challenge during the pandemic has been adapting to the lockdown. The school year in Peru begins in March, which means schools have not opened. Therefore education is delivered 100% remotely in Peru, which has been a huge challenge for their partner organisations. Access to technology is a key barrier, including access to IT infrastructure and the knowledge of how to use technology.

Teachers have used WhatsApp to distribute worksheets to students. This was a big challenge for residential homes as they coordinate 15 students at the same time. At partner organisation Azul Wazi, there were only two tutors with smartphones to receive the students’ work.

To address these obstacles, LAFF led partner needs’ assessments, concluding that they couldn’t continue with the personal development programme, as both students and teachers didn’t feel comfortable with the changes due to the coronavirus pandemic and felt overwhelmed by the amount of work sent. Macarena and the team at LAFF also launched a campaign to donate smartphones, and provided remote support with English classes and homework support. The team also assessed capacity building, for example looking at budgets and fundraising. Macarena shared that it was a challenge to not be present in the day-to-day delivery of the partner’s programmes.

3. How LAFF operates as a ‘volunteer-led’ organisation


LAFF is a volunteer-led organisation, as over 90% of their human resources are volunteers. The volunteers are championed as key leaders of the organisation, who donate their time and skills to help the charity meet its strategic goals. Trustees are also involved in hands-on work, including fundraising.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with LAFF, please visit their website.

We hope you enjoy this week’s episode.

This episode is brought to you by our platinum sponsor Charity People.



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