Cover Woman Update: Caroline Boudreaux

Caroline Boudreaux admits that 2012 was a difficult year for the Miracle Foundation. The organization’s entire fundraising model and strategy had to be re-imagined in order to make orphanages in to real homes for children abroad. In Caroline Boudreaux’s case, it made her think bigger.

“Sometimes, a negative event fosters great ideas,” says Boudreaux, founder of the nonprofit. “Our donors are our investors, and we always want their investment to pay off. When a local manager in India refused to submit to an audit, that was a red flag in so many ways.”

The Miracle Foundation’s goal is to turn virtual warehouses of abandoned boys and girls in to real homes through improved nutrition, loving housemothers and better education.

“Our question became: How do we guarantee success in foreign countries?” Boudreaux says. “It was so painful to give that orphanage back to the locals, but the cool thing is that the experience transformed our entire business model. Now it can be scaled and replicated globally, which has the potential to help millions of kids worldwide.”

Where once they went in to existing orphanages with naïve expectations— even building new orphanages from the ground up—the foundation has developed a program it calls the NEST method (Nurture, Empower, Strengthen and Transform), a five-step approach to identifying, qualifying and developing orphanages and helping the children living in them reach their full potential.

The best thing about the NEST model is that it can be implemented by other like-minded organizations throughout the world. Boudreaux credits Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Davis, who was hired in 2009, for this new approach. She is also quick to give kudos to the volunteers, donors and strong board of directors.

“People want to change the world. They want to make a difference. When presented with an opportunity to give, they step up,” she says. “Donors used to ask what percentage of their money was going directly to the program. [With the Miracle Foundation, that figure was 83 percent.] But now they are asking, ‘Is it working?’ That’s such an evolution. They know that even if an organization gives 100 percent of every dollar to its programs, if they aren’t working, it doesn’t matter. They humble me that they care so much about these perfect strangers halfway around the world.”

Boudreaux cites an incredible statistic: If a country were created that held all the orphans in the world, it would be the eighth-largest.

“They have no mom, no dad, no one to speak for them. But we’re breaking the cycle,” she says. “What we’re giving, no one can ever take away from them. No one can rewrite their story. They will never go back.”