From its base in Springfield, Convoy of Hope provides humanitarian aid on a global scale.
Officials with the nonprofit point to an ever-expanding network as the organization celebrates its 25th anniversary. But the nonprofit’s goal hasn’t changed: “We’re a faith-based organization with a driving passion to feed the world. We still do that, but we do it in a bigger way,” says Jeff Nene, national spokesman and special assistant to President Hal Donaldson.
Convoy of Hope’s most recent data show the nonprofit helps more than 14.6 million people worldwide, up from 12.5 million in 2017, says Public Relations Director Jessica Blake. Last year, the nonprofit invested $151 million into its initiatives, which include feeding programs and disaster response. Every school day, Blake says, Convoy of Hope feeds 200,000 children in 14 countries. Its programs are backed by an operating budget of $178 million, which Nene says is overwhelmingly supported by donations from churches, businesses, government agencies, other nonprofits and individuals.
“I think that really helps us to be known in the communities — knowing we’re an organization that’s reputable,” Blake says. “People can trust us and know that they can come to us with the needs that they have.”
Disaster response also has become increasingly important as Convoy of Hope travels to local areas hit by tornadoes, coastal areas where hurricanes are rampant and island nations damaged by tsunamis.
Donaldson discusses the nonprofit’s mission in his new book, “Disruptive Compassion: Becoming The Revolutionary You Were Born To Be.”
“People shouldn’t have to be malnourished. The sick shouldn’t have to die. The abused shouldn’t have to suffer,” he says in a promotional video, reading a passage from the book.
The Convoy of Hope mission also has attracted endorsements and donations from musical artists Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers, as well as NFL quarterback Drew Brees.
“When you have people of some notoriety, people look up to them and trust their recommendations,” Nene says.
In the case of the Jonas Brothers, Nene says Donaldson wrote them a letter as he was familiar with their father, a former ordained minister at an Assemblies of God church. The brothers responded with a donation. A similar story came into play with Swift, who committed funding to help Louisiana families affected by flooding in 2016.
After the Haiti earthquake, the Jonas Brothers again reached out to offer more help, Nene says. They were asked to use their fame on social media for the cause.
“It was unbelievable,” Nene says. “They put it on their Twitter, and it crashed our website.”
Closer to home, Nene says companies such as Bass Pro Shops have been heavily involved in Convoy of Hope’s operations. Founder Johnny Morris held a charitable event at a Bass Pro store after the Joplin tornado, for example.
“You grow your reputation and organization in that way,” Nene says of the nonprofit’s partnerships.
For most, winter offers a break from gardening. But there’s plenty of action at Amanda Belle’s Farm on East Primrose Street, a Springfield Community Gardens project at the edge of the Cox Medical Center South campus.