PLATINUM2024

Groundswell International, Inc.

Washington, DC   |  www.groundswellinternational.org

Mission

Groundswell International, Inc. (Groundswell) strengthens communities to build healthy farming and food systems from the ground up. Groundswell’s global network includes 14 non-governmental organizations and 748 grassroots groups organized into three Regional Programs for Action Learning and Amplification (ALAs): Latin America and the Caribbean (Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico), South Asia (India, Nepal), and West Africa (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Senegal).

Ruling year info

2010

Executive Director

Steve Brescia

Main address

2101 L St. NW Suite 300

Washington, DC 20037 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

27-1493841

NTEE code info

Agricultural Programs (K20)

Rural (S32)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Agriculture and our globalized food system are at a crossroads. While some argue we need to ‘feed the world’ by further extending the same economies-of-scale logic and inputs of industrialized agriculture, a growing body of practice and research is demonstrating that this approach will not resolve the multiple challenges we face. In fact, the world already produces enough food to feed the expected population of nine billion in 2050. So, if the challenge is not to increase total global food production, what is it? The majority of the 800+ million people who face hunger today are family farmers in the global south. Therefore, the real challenge is to create a food system that supports these vulnerable farmers to continue feeding the world while sustainably producing enough of their own food, adequately nourishing their families, generating sufficient income to meet their basic needs, and employing agriculture techniques that regenerate the environment.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

West Africa

We continued to work with our partners Agrecol Afrique in Senegal; Association Nourrir Sans Détruire in Burkina Faso; the Center for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development in Ghana; and Sahel Eco in Mali. Our West Africa program focuses on supporting dryland farming households to transition from conventional agriculture to agroecological and climate-smart farming and food systems that allow them to mitigate and adapt to climate change; strengthen local management of biodiversity; and generate nature-based solutions. In 2022, across these four Sahelian countries, Groundswell-supported programs engaged 152,281 smallholder households through cascading, farmer-to-farmer training and contributed to regenerating 415,222 hectares of land. In 2022, the West Africa programs benefitted 862,462 people.

Population(s) Served
People of African descent
Economically disadvantaged people

In 2022, we worked with partners Centro de Desarrollo Integral Campesino de la Mixteca in Mexico; EkoRural in Ecuador; Partenariat pour le Développement Local in Haiti; Qachuu Aloom in Guatemala; and, Vecinos Honduras. In these five countries, in 2022, we supported 11,282 smallholder farmers to improve their farming, create sustainable rural livelihoods, and strengthen their communities' resilience. Groundswell-support programs in the region benefitted 90,560 people and helped regenerate 4,453 hectares of land. Additionally, last year Groundswell launched the Dry Corridor initiative in Honduras and Guatemala to strengthen smallholders’ dryland farming systems to make them more resilient to climate change and to restore the agricultural landscape. Groundswell added two new partners through this initiative: Asociación Comunitaria Flor del Café aldea El Durazno in Guatemala and Asociación de Comités Ecológicos del Sur del Honduras.

Population(s) Served
People of Latin American descent
Economically disadvantaged people

We worked with our partner Boudha Bahanupati Project – Pariwar in Nepal to create or strengthen 47 savings and credit groups with 1,180 members; train 794 smallholder farmers in agroecological farming practices to improve production and food security; and distribute goats and milking buffalos to 657 rural women, who will pass on the animals' offspring to other women in the future to spread benefits. In 2022, this program benefitted 6,397 people. Additionally, in October 2022, the Rural Women’s Upliftment Association joined the Groundswell network. RWUA is a women-led NGO that works with women’s groups in Haripur Municipality, Sarlahi, to improve their agricultural production and provide access to financial services through savings and credit groups. Finally, in 2022, we laid the groundwork for South Asia expansion with the NGO Preservation and Proliferation of Rural Resources and Nature in Bihar, India, which will join the Groundswell network in 2023.

Population(s) Served
People of Asian descent
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Average number of dollars per person served

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

This metric describes the cost per direct beneficiary. The cost per farmer trained was $10.07 in 2023. This number represents the cost per direct beneficiary.

Number of local partner NGOs

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The local NGOs that Groundswell sends grants to and which have at least preliminary partner status and an MOU.

Number of grassroots organizations

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Small local NGOs or civil society organizations that local Groundwell or local Partner NGOs work with as part of the country program.

Number of communities

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Communities where direct beneficiaries live.

Number of farmers improving agroecology

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Farmers participating in agroecological training, exchange visits and other formal activities provided by local partner NGOs with support provided by Groundswell.

Number of hectares under improved agroecological production

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Average plot size multiplied by number of farmers improving agroecology.

Number of total beneficiaries

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Number of total beneficiaries supported by our work.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Groundswell International exists to strengthen communities to build healthy farming and food systems from the ground up. We envision a world where there are sustainable, healthy, nourishing and just food and farming systems for all people and our planet. To achieve this, we pursue a theory of change that posits:

If farmers experiment with agroecology to farm in more productive and regenerative ways; and successful farmers catalyze the spread of agroecology through farmer-to-farmer networks; and farmers and consumers connect through local market arrangements, to both incentivize agroecological farming while also providing healthy food to local people; and farmers, consumers and civil society groups join forces to work for policies that support agroecology and sustainable local food economies; and we collaborate across borders to strengthen these local initiatives, accelerate learning between them, and amplify their voices for broader systems change…

Then farming families and communities will be will be more productive, have more income, be better nourished and more resilient. People will have more access to locally produced and nutritious food. Soil, water, biodiversity and the environment will be improved. Women and other marginalized people will have a greater voice and power to provide for their families and transform their communities. We will amplify local successes and strengthen the movement to create healthier farming and food systems.

Based on this theory of change, our global partnership created a common results framework with one overarching goal and five strategic objectives that contribute to that goal:

Goal: Smallholder farming communities have sustainably improved their wellbeing and livelihoods, strengthened their food sovereignty, and created regenerative food and farming systems that address climate, environmental, and socio-economic challenges.

Strategic Objective 1: Smallholder farm households have improved their capacity to increase productivity and food security by transitioning their farming systems through agroecological methods.

Strategic Objective 2: Women farmers have gained greater control over productive resources and decision making in their households and communities.

Strategic Objective 3: Smallholder farm households have sustainably increased their incomes and diversified their livelihoods with an emphasis on local markets.

Strategic Objective 4: Children under 5 and pregnant and lactating women from vulnerable households have improved dietary diversity and nutritional status.

Strategic Objective 5: An enabling environment for ecological farming has been established at the local, national and regional levels.

As a community of practice with decades of shared learning, Groundswell International has developed a suite of effective strategies to address the root causes of food insecurity, social marginalization, economic vulnerability, and environmental degradation. While each of our partner’s work responds to its unique people and context, Groundswell programs everywhere:

• Work with farmer leaders to test and adopt agroecological methods and spread them to more people through farmer-to-farmer training, allowing these farmers to produce more healthy food and restore hundreds of thousands of acres of degraded land.
• Empower women farmers to participate in savings and credit groups, improve ecological production, gain access to productive assets, and diversify their livelihoods, which in turn improves their families’ food security, incomes and resilience.
• Strengthen local markets and increase farmers’ incomes through savings and credit groups and community-based agricultural enterprises that add value to locally grown crops.
• Nourish vulnerable families by explicitly integrating gender equity and nutrition into agricultural programs. Our holistic approach links agroecological farming to family nutrition.
• Support citizens to engage with local decision makers on enabling local policies, and produce influential case studies, policy briefs, and reports to facilitate sharing across our networks and with other stakeholders to expedite the necessary transition to agroecology.

Each of these five main strategies furthers one of our five strategic objectives, which in turn contributes to our overarching goal.

Additionally, all of these strategies are based on a practical, “learning by doing” approach that builds participants’ confidence while meeting their basic needs. When people see the changes they are bringing about, it empowers them, and soon they become the lead actors in improving their own lives. Groundswell and its partners share a deep commitment to ‘people-centered’ development that affirms the agency, innate capacity and dignity of all people to improve their own lives, live sustainably with nature, and create healthy communities and societies.

Innovating approaches to overcome the most stubborn development challenges does not happen by chance. It can only happen by design. Groundswell International was created for just this purpose. Groundswell’s founders sought to develop an organizational structure that served as a laboratory for grounded innovation.

Our network organizational structure and operating model strive to uphold our principles and to bring our innovative approaches to scale. We seek to avoid common pitfalls of bad development models and embrace the most effective ones. Limitations of existing development approaches we have organized to avoid include:

• Top down program design that can thwart creativity, adaptive management, and effectiveness;
• Programs that generate dependency, and widen inequality, instead of unleashing local initiative and capacity;
• Organizations and projects that operate in isolation, and as a result are not able to leverage needed changes at the level of wider social, political and economic systems; and,
• Lack of appropriate methods to assess program strategies and their impacts in order to learn lessons and adjust for improved effectiveness.

In contrast, our organizational model seeks to:

• Build upon and strengthen the capacity and creativity of local organizations rather than generating dependence;
• Encourage local initiative and innovation to allow people to substantially improve their lives; foster networks of collective learning, support and documentation of effective strategies with partners and allies;
• Develop context-sensitive monitoring and evaluation systems focused on broadly shared goals; and,
• Widen impact by linking community-based initiatives to wider national and regional alliances, networks and social movements that promote agroecology and sustainable local food systems.

Groundswell operationalizes these principles in collaboration with partners through Regional Programs for Action Learning and Amplification (ALAs). Groundswell staff works with partners to design and fund ALAs, focusing on common challenges faced in order to better facilitate exchange and mutual learning and innovation appropriate to local contexts. ALA’s include support for community-level action and implementation by partners to improve local wellbeing; learning among partners and allies to strengthen program methodologies; and strategies to amplify impact. Groundswell also supports an action learning approach to generate technical, methodological or institutional innovations, and thus contribute to increased impact at the levels of: farms and households (depth level); creating a multiplier effect to spread agroecological practices to more farmers (horizontal level); the creation of enabling local food systems and markets (vertical level), as well as enabling policies (vertical level). We emphasize the development of ALAs at regional levels to take advantage of shared context and reduce the costs and logistics of fostering learning and coordination.

Groundswell International has invested over $18 million in hundreds of marginalized farming communities in the 11 countries where we work. Since 2009, Groundswell and its partners worked with 959,419 smallholder farmers to improve their production, resilience and wellbeing in Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Mali, Mexico, Nepal, and Senegal. Our work improved the lives of farmers, their families, and community members in tangible (ecological restoration and increased food production, incomes, nutrition) and intangible (stronger local governance, improved self-esteem, greater agency) ways.

The cost per direct beneficiary has been steadily declining, and, in 2022 it was a mere $16. This is possible because we leverage local resources rather than focusing on external inputs. For example, we empower farmers to train other farmers and farmers generate most of their own inputs, such as green manure, compost and organic pest control products, on their farms. This is far less costly (and far more sustainable) than hiring large numbers of extensionists and distributing tons of external chemical inputs, such as fertilizers, pesticides, etc.

In addition to providing training in agroecology, we support local organizations to create, lead and implement their own development plans. Democratic and broad-based leadership are emphasized, as are the capacity for planning, monitoring of activities, and mobilization of local resources for core costs. Then when successful agricultural techniques or other approaches are identified, these are spread among farmers, families and community-based organizations through volunteer promoters and farmer-to-farmer exchanges. Experience has shown that people learn better from their neighbors who have achieved successes while facing similar circumstances, as opposed to from external experts promoting ideas or technologies that may not be accessible, relevant to their circumstances, or sustainable over the long term. It is also important to point out that agro-ecological techniques spread readily once they reach a critical mass in a given area because they are financially accessible to small farmers, they are adapted to local ecosystems, and they have a proven track record of improving community food security. In just a few years they can boost yields by more than 100% while protecting the biodiversity and resilience of production systems. Reaching this critical mass as efficiently and as quickly as possible to spark a ripple effect is at the core of Groundswell’s value proposition.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback

Financials

Groundswell International, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Groundswell International, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 03/12/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Jeannette Tramhel

Afua Bruce

Jay Slaughter

Bhadra Sheela Durgabakshi

Cantave Jean Baptiste

Fatou Batta

Tim LaSalle

David Conner

Patricia Biermayr-Jenzano

Andrea Bohn

Ndunge Kiiti

Gopal Nakarmi

Jessica Brown

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/12/2024

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 05/24/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.