ChildFund International is still working to educate the public about its brand change, the president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit organization said Wednesday.
The Henrico County-based global child development and protection agency changed its name from Christian Children's Fund to ChildFund International in 2009.
The name change reflects the group's international diversity, with sister organizations in numerous nations, said Anne Lynam Goddard, who joined the organization as its president and CEO in 2006.
The name was changed because it created confusion about the organization's purpose, Goddard said. It phased out the religious education part of its mission years ago, she said.
"People asked whether we only worked with Christian children," she said. "Did we only want Christian supporters? There were a lot of questions like that."
Goddard spoke Wednesday to students, staff and other guests at the University of Richmond's Robins School of Business as part of the school's "C-Suite" series of discussions with local executives.
With a budget of about $250 million a year, ChildFund International provides assistance for about 18 million children and their families in 31 countries. It works to provide health and educational opportunities to children in some of the world's poorest regions.
That includes some of the poorest regions of the United States, Goddard said. As part of its strategic planning, the group is considering expanding its services in the United States, she said.
ChildFund has a staff of about 160 people in the Richmond area, with a small staff in Washington D.C., and about 1,700 people overseas.
The organization gets most of its donations from individuals. The economic climate has been "challenging" for philanthropies, Goddard said.
"We changed the brand at the same time that the economy was going down," she said. ChildFund has reached out for more corporate support in addition to individual donors, she said.
"The good thing is that many of our current supporters are so committed to what they are doing in support of children," she said. "Keeping our current supporters has not been as challenging as bringing on new supporters."
She told the business students that managing a nonprofit is just as hard as managing a for-profit venture. "You have two bottom lines," in the nonprofit world, she said.
"We have a financial bottom line," she said. "We also have a social impact bottom line. That is harder to measure, and for many people it is more difficult to understand."
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