Josh Romney Advises MPA Students on Working with Nonprofits

PROVO, Utah – Oct 12, 2016 – Being charitable may be second nature to many BYU students, but making lives better isn’t always the result. Josh Romney, president of CharityVision International, spoke to MPA students on 6 October about how to avoid doing harm when trying to do good.

Romney discussed CharityVision, a nonprofit organization devoted to providing a sustainable model for empowering local physicians in the developing world to treat curable blindness.

He was initially drawn to the organization by its cause, but he increased his involvement as he recognized the significance of its sustainable model; it proposed a more permanent solution to a monumental issue—something many charitable organizations fail to do.

“There are good charities and bad charities,” Romney said. “Believe it or not, there are charities that do more harm than good.”

As an example, Romney cited TOMS, a shoe company that donates shoes to people in Africa. It temporarily fixes shoelessness in some African villages, he said, but devastates the shoe market of those villages in the process, putting local sellers and manufacturers out of business. When TOMS moves out of a village because everyone now has shoes, the village is left without any means to replace the shoes that will inevitably wear out, Romney said.

With this example, Romney emphasized the importance of a charity’s sustainability. CharityVision’s model involves loaning equipment to local doctors, who can then treat those in need in their communities while leveraging their increased profitability to pay for the equipment.

 “If we ever go away—if the money dries up—these programs won’t go away,” Romney said. “Raising money from wealthy Americans is not sustainable.”

Romney also discussed the value of not doing anything for free. For example, when surgeries are performed for free, patients don’t take care of themselves, making the surgeries far less effective, he said.

“Make people become invested and become part of the process,” Romney said. “Even if it’s just a couple dollars or some rice.”

He said getting involved as a volunteer is key to securing a job with a specific nonprofit organization.

“I got involved, and CharityVision eventually made me president,” he said.

He advised students to be careful and thoughtful about their commitments to organizations.

“We at CharityVision look to see if volunteers do what they say they’re going to do,” Romney said. “Don’t commit to anything unless you really have the time to do it. If you want to be taken seriously, invest time, make their lives easier, and they’ll want to hire you.”

The Marriott School is located at Brigham Young University, the largest privately owned, church-sponsored university in the United States. The school has nationally recognized programs in accounting, business management, entrepreneurship, finance, information systems and public management. The school’s mission is to prepare men and women of faith, character and professional ability for positions of leadership throughout the world. Approximately 3,300 students are enrolled in the Marriott School’s graduate and undergraduate programs.

Josh Romney, president of CharityVision, shared his advice on working with nonprofits to MPA students.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Madeleine Lewis