Engaging in Global Partnerships


By Todd Guckenberger

In 2001, Back2Back sensed God leading us to serve the orphan and vulnerable child in Guatemala. Even early in the Back2Back story, we were anxious to share resources and grow with others who were serving children internationally. We were met in Guatemala by some organizations with mixed feelings; they were apprehensive and skeptical of our interest in partnership. However, we found a few potential partners who were incredibly gracious, thoughtful and open to collaboration. Those early positive experiences have resulted in ongoing relationships we still enjoy today. Even though Back2Back did not end up launching a new site in Guatemala in 2001, I believe God used that season to teach us lessons on collaboration and partnership. The trip started Back2Back on a journey seeking out other like-minded organizations with whom we could engage. There is no competition in orphan care – a win for one is a win for all!

We have a life script in the Guckenberger house, “If you can’t share it, you can’t have it.” What started as a parenting strategy to stop an immediate argument over a toy has since grown into a core value. Back2Back shares that value, believing that by sharing what God has taught us, organizations can spend more time with children and less time in committees or in front of computer screens.

Back2Back’s global and U.S. partnerships department is a way for us to impact the orphan and vulnerable child in countries where we otherwise have no presence. The staff regularly engages with smaller organizations, sharing anything we have ever generated as a ministry, including board policies, Bible studies and trainings. Anything we have is free for anyone who serves the orphan.

We structure our engagement in three different levels:

Level 1 is information and resource sharing.

Level 2 is coaching and resourcing. Back2Back stewards time to serve a few like-minded, but smaller or younger organizations. We hold conference calls to share best practices in areas such as administration, child sponsorship, child development and trauma resources. When we host staff trainings on child development or fundraising, for example, we simply invite other organizations to join us.

Level 3 is reserved for those organizations in official partnership with Back2Back. We share back-end administrative resources and launch new sites with like-minded individuals already working to serve the orphan.

Recently, a leadership podcast challenged me to literally sit open-handed in meetings, thinking through the question:

What if what we have is on loan for us to steward?

Todd Guckenberger serves as Back2Back’s Executive Director and oversees the global ministry through vision casting, program and staff development and donor relations.