Eric on the Pa'nibal terrace

My move to Guatemala

After two years of managing Pa’nibal administrative processes and organization efforts from Denver, Colorado, I’ve made the move to living full-time in Guatemala. It wasn’t a particularly easy decision.

Exactly 100% of our regular month-to-month budget is provided by donor partners — individuals or families who have committed to significant, monthly recurring gifts. It’s humbling and inspiring to me that just twenty-one donors can keep an important project like Pa’nibal moving forward, and of course it’s a little disconcerting to be physically moving away from our donor base. Almost all of our donors live and work in the USA, and perhaps more to the point, most of them are concentrated in Denver, Colorado.

Pa’nibal operates on very thin margins. Most months we collect within just $100 of our planned monthly budget, generally just under or above $6000 USD. Each and every donor is so important to us and our mission. So why move to Guatemala away from our donor base? There are a few reasons:

Juan working on Google Sheets

Juan reconciles Pa’nibal petty cash accounts for the month using Google Sheets — a simple digital tool that saves us countless hours.

Renewed focus on team management, process & protocol. Pa’nibal is the only shelter & transitional home for adult women in Sacatepéquez. To grow our impact, we need to be a thoroughly organized, results driven, and reproducible model for other NGOs to work from. I’m excited to bring more than a decade of organizational experience to bear on this ambition, from digital record keeping and administration to efficiency oriented, flexible management styles like Agile.

Sul & Eric having lunch

Myself and Sul of Verse Stories talk through some potential approaches to producing a short Pa’nibal video.

Better communication. Telling the story can be so hard. Challenges faced here in Guatemala are so qualitatively different from those in the West it’s sometimes hard to know where to start. I plan to reinvigorate our communication strategy from pushing better photography, to more written stories, to video production — that last (video) inspired by Sul of Verse Stories, who visited us in San Pedro las Huertas from Scotland just last week to produce a short video. More on that later.

Eric on the bus

The twenty minute bus ride from Antigua, where I’ll be living, to San Pedro las Huertas costs about $0.27

Cost of living. Living in Guatemala is far cheaper than living in the USA. I’ll be retaining my full-time position with Aten Design Group, a digital solutions agency I’ve been working with off and on for much of my adult life. Cost of living savings will make it far easier for me to contribute to special funds aside from regular financial support: gardens and fruit trees in the home, a new security system, and saving towards a dedicated Pa’nibal vehicle to name a few.

I believe that living here in Guatemala puts my resources — and yours as donors — to better use. And I can’t wait for all the exciting things coming in 2018.

Thanks so much for your ongoing support. It’s the cornerstone of what we do at Pa’nibal.

Your support makes what we do possible. A contribution of $100 monthly covers all the basic costs of one resident — meals, a bed, a safe place. Any amount makes a difference.

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