HOPE FAQs

Business practices


How does HOPE combine discipleship and poverty alleviation?

HOPE’s commitment to combining a witness for Christ with poverty alleviation begins with our staff. We believes staff cannot pass on what they do not have, so HOPE is committed to hiring staff members who have demonstrated a personal relationship with Christ. HOPE also provides opportunities for continued discipleship of our staff. Because HOPE-network staff members and loan officers are local to the areas they serve, they are aware of appropriate, culturally suitable ways to share the Gospel with the people they serve. One consistent opportunity comes through biblically based training that emphasizes good business practices in a Christ-centered context. HOPE also uses complementary ministries, including children’s ministries, to strengthen the local church.

For what types of businesses can HOPE-network clients receive loans?

While the types of businesses clients use their loans for vary, some typical businesses include running small restaurants or grocery stores; growing crops and raising animals; sewing; selling produce, clothing, or baked goods; and car repair.

What are some of HOPE’s greatest challenges as an organization?

​One of HOPE’s organizational values is to operate in places underserved by other organizations. This value comes with inherent complications, whether it be ongoing conflict, the high cost of living, currency devaluation, corruption, or underdeveloped infrastructure. Operations don’t always function as smoothly in these conditions, but we believe these are the places God has called us to serve.

Where will HOPE expand in the future?

​HOPE seeks to grow in a responsible manner that capitalizes on our knowledge of the working environment and the culture of a given area. We have a heart for underserved areas, places where poverty stifles dreams or the love of Christ isn’t known. We also look for like-minded church partners as we enter new areas.

How do you decide whom you will give a loan to?

The process varies across countries and programs. In many programs, HOPE relies on social collateral, lending to groups of people who cross-guarantee each other’s loans. As a result, members select others they believe will be able to repay. Loan officers provide training so clients are prepared to manage their loan, and they review a variety of factors in the approval process: business plans, amount requested, the current economic market, etc. In savings and credit associations, where members save their own money, the group decides if and when to loan to one another from their pooled savings.

HOPE provides loans to people in poverty regardless of race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, or marital status. There is no financial benefit or preferential treatment associated with conversion to faith in Christ.

What ministries does HOPE support?

Once HOPE-managed microfinance institutions become operationally self-sufficient, they tithe 10 percent of proceeds to support local programs for children and youth. These programs are carried out in collaboration with the local church as much as possible. This commitment began with the Tomorrow Clubs, a ministry that now reaches over 16,000 children in countries throughout Eastern Europe.

What is a typical loan size for a HOPE-network client?

Loan sizes can vary significantly by country. HOPE typically provides loans ranging from $100 to $2,000 to people living in poverty. This capital is enough to develop a small business to help a family meet their needs including food, schooling, and housing.

Do people repay their loans from HOPE?

HOPE has a loan repayment rate of 98 percent over the past five years.

Does HOPE only work with Christians?

HOPE serves people living in poverty regardless of their race, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, or marital status. There are no financial benefits or preferential treatment associated with conversion to faith in Christ.

Does HOPE charge interest?

Yes, HOPE-network clients pay interest at a rate that will eventually enable each microfinance institution (MFI) to become self-sufficient. Interest rates are determined based on local context and are competitive and appropriate for HOPE-network areas of operation.

Employment


How should I apply?

First, check out HOPE’s open positions. If there are any roles that could be a fit, please click on the open position and click on the “apply now” button. You will be directed to enter your resume and cover letter into our applicant tracking system. Due to the volume of applications received, we are unable to answer individual phone calls or email requests for status updates.

We cannot accept hard-copy materials. Thank you!

Why is HOPE International in Lancaster, PA?

HOPE was founded in Lancaster in 1997 by Jeff Rutt, a local home builder. A vibrant city of approximately 60,000 people, Lancaster has something for everyone. Here are the top 10 reasons we love Lancaster:

  1. Named one of the top 10 most exciting small cities in America
  2. Close to Baltimore, Philadelphia, D.C., and New York—but without the high cost of living
  3. Great shopping and a vibrant local food scene
  4. Home of the country’s oldest continuously operating farmers’ market
  5. Regular events like First Friday, free concerts in Long’s Park, and more
  6. Scenic location, perfect for exploring the great outdoors
  7. Dynamic art, theatre, and music scenes
  8. Lancaster is happy!
  9. Summer evenings cheering on our very own minor league baseball team
  10. Delicious ice cream and whoopie pies: Need we say more?
What is HOPE culture like?

We like to say that we take our work seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Our culture is something we’re really excited about. So excited that we have a whole section on this page dedicated to talking about it. Learn more about our culture through our PASSION statement, manifesto, and statement of faith.

What does a typical day look like?

There is no “typical” day at HOPE! Daily responsibilities will depend on your role, but there are some things that you can count on if you are a domestic staff member: staff prayer times on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; staff devotions on Tuesdays; and staff meetings every other Thursday. These are times that domestic staff get together and intentionally study the Word, pray, celebrate, and hold one another accountable. We look forward to these times of building relationships with each other and with the Lord.

What do staff members say is their favorite thing about working at HOPE?

If you ask different people this question, you’ll get different responses. Many people cite their passion for HOPE’s mission to alleviate both physical and spiritual poverty. Some love HOPE because they get to make an impact for the Lord while using their gifts and abilities. Others love the culture. Often, people say their favorite thing about HOPE is that they get to pray and worship with colleagues. Many love to see the pride on clients’ faces when they use their gifts and passions to provide for their families and communities. It varies, but everyone has a long list of things that bring them back to work each day!

What is the interview process like?

HOPE’s interview process is extremely collaborative. We begin by screening resumes. The next step is an initial phone interview with human resources. Candidates who move beyond the initial phone screen will interview over the phone again, this time with the hiring manager. There is sometimes a third phone screen with an executive team member, and finalists are brought to Lancaster to interview in person with the search committee. Our goal is to complete each hiring process within 120 days.

This process may vary for international roles.

How do I know the status of my application?

After you enter your resume and cover letter into our applicant tracking system, you will receive an email indicating that we have received your materials. You will be emailed again with any relevant information regarding your application. Due to the volume of applications received, we are unable to answer individual phone calls or email requests for status updates.

Experience HOPE Trips


What will I do on an Experience HOPE Trip?

Trips to the field are an opportunity for you to see firsthand the impact that Christ-centered microenterprise development is having around the world.

Experience HOPE Trips are typically three days in length. Unlike traditional missions or work trips, Experience HOPE Trips are designed to be observational, allowing you to visit clients, see their businesses, and meet the staff who serves them. We hope that seeing this transformational work in action will compel you to partner with HOPE in a deeper way.

Can children attend HOPE Trips?

Individuals of all ages are welcome to attend an Experience HOPE Trip, although younger children might find trip conditions uncomfortable. Visits to the field will be spent standing and walking over rough terrain. It can also be very hot and humid.

How much money should I bring?

You will not need to cover any expenses during your Experience HOPE Trip. However, if you would like to bring money for souvenirs or purchasing something small from clients, we suggest $25-$50. HOPE staff will help you exchange your money at the best rate.

What do I need to bring?

We suggest that you bring bug repellent, sunscreen, a lightweight rain jacket, a camera, a Bible, and a journal. If possible, we also suggest packing only a carry-on for ease of travel.

Can I extend my trip for personal travel?

Yes, you are welcome to extend your trip either on the front or back end for personal travel. The Experience HOPE Trips coordinator will work with you to arrange your flights.

What should I wear?

For all Experience HOPE Trips, we suggest modest, business casual dress. When meeting with clients, shirts with sleeves, capris, or skirts and dresses reaching below the knee are best for women, while nicer slacks and polo or dress shirts are preferred for men. However, during downtime or on days not spent with clients or staff, you are welcome to wear jeans and shorts as well. Comfortable, closed-toe shoes are ideal for walking and standing during the trip.

Do I need a passport or tourist visa?

All countries of travel require a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date you will return to the United States. To apply for or renew your passport, please visit travel.state.gov, or for urgent requests with additional fees, www.traveldocs.com.

Visas required to enter a country will vary depending on the trip destination. Please consult Travel Document Systems at www.traveldocs.com for more information. The Experience HOPE Trips coordinator will also communicate specific details to you once you have registered for your trip.

Do I need any vaccinations for my trip?

Required vaccinations vary depending on the Experience HOPE Trip destination. Please consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov) for more information about required and suggested vaccinations. The Experience HOPE Trips coordinator will also communicate specific details to you once you have registered for your trip.

Do I need to arrange pickup from the airport, transportation, or lodging?

HOPE will arrange all of your in-country logistics, including picking you up and dropping you off at the airport. We will communicate specific details for your trip during the pre-trip conference call scheduled the week prior to your trip.

What airport will I fly into?

The airport you fly into may vary depending upon the country of travel, as well as the area your group will visit. The Experience HOPE Trips coordinator will confirm the location for your specific trip after you register.

What does my trip fee cover?

Your Experience HOPE Trip fee will cover the costs of all in-country accommodations, including transportation, lodging, meals, translation, and a program donation. Your fee does not cover the cost of your airfare or any required travel documents and vaccinations.

How do I pay for my trip?

You can pay for your trip in a few different ways.

You are welcome to pay for your trip expenses directly at www.hopetrips.org; over the phone by calling 717.464.3220; or by mailing cash or a check to HOPE International at 227 Granite Run Drive, Suite 250, Lancaster, PA 17601.

If you would like to raise funds to cover the cost of your trip, you can send individual checks or cash to the HOPE office (address above). Please include a note or memo identifying your name and which trip you plan to attend.

General


How many clients does HOPE serve?

​HOPE-network programs reach over 950,000 clients around the world with financial services and the love of Jesus Christ.

What does spiritual integration look like on a practical level?

At HOPE, our efforts to love and serve families in poverty are rooted in our allegiance to our Lord and Savior and our desire to see His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Believing that true transformation can only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ, HOPE engages in culturally appropriate evangelism and discipleship in each of the countries in which we work. HOPE is committed to hiring Christian staff and equipping them to be disciple makers in their communities, and we seek to partner with local churches in each of our areas of operation to provide clients with ongoing discipleship and support.

For our domestic staff members, we share in times of prayer and devotions five days a week. Often, individual departments take that a step further. For example, the marketing team has time set aside each morning for personal reflection and time with the Lord. The administration team meets weekly for Bible study and prayer. These are just a few examples of how we encourage one another to grow in our relationships with God.

Where does HOPE serve?

The HOPE network includes HOPE-managed programs and partners in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Malawi, Moldova, Peru, Philippines, the Republic of Congo, Romania, Rwanda, Ukraine, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. HOPE also serves in two countries in Asia whose names have been withheld for security.

What is Homes for Hope (H4H)?

Homes for Hope is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that invites members of the building industry to do what they do best—build a home—to help alleviate global poverty. Through organizations like HOPE International, H4H enables the building industry to channel resources toward this important initiative. H4H helps builders recruit their trade partners—subcontractors, suppliers, and consultants—to build a Home for Hope on a largely pro bono basis (donated labor, materials, and consulting services). Builders contribute their net revenue, typically between $40K and $300K, to HOPE once the home is sold.

How did the partnership between HOPE and Esperanza begin?

After researching opportunities in the Dominican Republic, HOPE decided to partner with an existing organization, Esperanza International, in May 2005. Though structurally distinct organizations, HOPE and Esperanza are like-minded in our commitment to holistic development with a special emphasis on church partnerships and spiritual growth. Many HOPE supporters first experience Christ-centered microenterprise development firsthand through an Experience HOPE Trip to visit Esperanza clients in the Dominican Republic.

How do HOPE’s partners benefit from being a part of the HOPE network?

In many countries, we partner with other organizations to effectively minister to physical and spiritual poverty in underserved areas, believing that like-minded partnerships can maximize resources, avoid unnecessary duplication, and glorify God. All HOPE-network partners benefit from access to funding, strategic planning, technical assistance, leadership development, capacity building, lateral learning opportunities, spiritual integration guidance and accountability, and prayer support. ​

Is HOPE tied to a particular church or denomination?

No. We are a non-denominational, Christ-centered nonprofit organization that works in collaboration with many different churches.

Can I visit the people HOPE serves?

We offer Experience HOPE Trips throughout the year to many countries of operation, and we’d love for you to join us! Learn more at www.hopetrips.org.

Giving


Is my gift tax-deductible?

Yes. HOPE International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. All gifts to HOPE International are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.

How can I donate to HOPE?

You can donate online by going to HOPE’s secure donations page, or you can send a check made payable to HOPE International to 227 Granite Run Drive, Suite 250, Lancaster, PA 17601. Online donation options include credit card and Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). EFT provides a convenient way for donors to make a monthly donation to HOPE, withdrawing funds from a bank account of your choosing on the same day each month. Click here to donate online now.

HOPE also accepts gifts in-kind. Contact the finance department by emailing donorcare@hopeinternational.org for more information.

Why does HOPE allocate 10 percent of my gift for administrative expenses?

HOPE International makes sound stewardship a priority. We have received Charity Navigator’s top four-star rating 10 years in a row—something only 1 percent of U.S. nonprofits achieve—and are a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. To best steward HOPE’s resources, it is our board-approved policy to reserve the right to allocate 10 percent of all designated gifts toward administrative expenses.

How much of my contribution goes directly to program costs?

HOPE spends less than 20 percent of its funds on general and administrative expenses and fundraising. HOPE is a member of the prestigious Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) and has been consistently recognized by Charity Navigator as an excellent steward of donor resources. Having received Charity Navigator’s top four-star rating 10 years in a row, HOPE is in the top 1 percent of nonprofits nationwide in terms of resource management.

How is HOPE funded?

The main sources of HOPE’s funding are individuals, churches, private or family foundations, and the Homes for Hope program. HOPE does not solicit government funding. See our Form 990 for details.

Internships and fellowships


What is the difference between an internship and a fellowship?

Internships are semester-based positions for undergraduate and graduate students of all disciplines. Fellowships are 9-12 month positions for experienced graduate students or business professionals.

What if I’m interested in multiple positions?

We ask interns and fellows to select their top two preferences. Due to the volume of applications, we are typically unable to consider applicants for more than two positions at a time.

What is the support-raising process like for interns and fellows who choose to fundraise?

In the past, some have chosen to raise support for their internships or fellowships. If you choose to do this, HOPE assists you in this process, offering you resources and support to help raise the support you need.

Are there any opportunities for interns and fellows to become staff members?

Yes, quite a few HOPE staff members first came to HOPE through an internship or fellowship. However, a job is not guaranteed as a result of your internship or fellowship.

What does the average day look like for a HOPE intern or fellow?

There’s no typical day! Interns and fellows might travel frequently into the field or work primarily from an office setting. An average day will vary based on the role and where the intern or fellow is located.

Who will be my supervisor?

Expatriate Internships and Fellowships: Interns and fellows will report to a branch manager or another staff member in the field.

Domestic Internships and Fellowships: Interns and fellows will report to a HOPE staff member.

What is HOPE looking for in candidates?

HOPE looks first for candidates who exhibit an active and vibrant relationship with Christ and demonstrate commitment to serving families who have been marginalized. An ideal candidate has led others, whether on campus, in their church, or in the community. An ideal candidate also has excellent written and verbal communication skills as well as international experience, specifically in the developing world. Finally, an ideal candidate is a lifelong learner—someone who gets excited by continually learning new things and is actively pursuing knowledge.

Why do you require that students complete their junior year in order to be eligible?

The GROW Internship and Fellowship Program is a competitive one, and we anticipate a large applicant pool. Interns and fellows who have completed more semesters of college tend to contribute more professionalism, maturity, independence, and confidence in the workplace. Also, they have received more relevant coursework in their major, better preparing them for their specific work here.

Who arranges my travel? Who pays for it?

HOPE facilitates travel arrangements abroad for expatriate interns and fellows, but the cost of travel falls to the intern or fellow.

Expatriate Interns and Fellows: We will coordinate the purchase of all international tickets because we can do so at a discounted rate through our relationship with our travel agency.

What is housing like?

Expatriate Internships and Fellowships: Because we work with our local partners in the field for housing arrangements, housing varies. Interns and fellows are often placed with a host family or provided apartment-style housing near the location where they work. Interns and fellows sometimes live with a roommate, either another HOPE intern or fellow or an expatriate intern or fellow of one of our partners.

Domestic Internships and Fellowships: One option for housing is staying in homes hosted by staff members or supporters of HOPE. Accommodations for interns and fellows will vary according to several factors: time of year, funding, availability of host homes, and transportation needs.

Do you consider non-business majors?

Yes. At HOPE, we believe it’s important to evaluate a candidate as a whole. We want an individual with the heart of a missionary, the mind of a businessperson, and the soul of a development worker. We have had interns and fellows with majors in English, social work, economics, international studies, foreign languages, and many more. That being said, some positions do require more technical background in finance or other fields.

Are HOPE internships or fellowships paid?

HOPE internships and fellowships are unpaid; however, we do cover the cost of housing for our interns and fellows (in most, but not all, cases). Many interns and fellows raise funds to help cover living costs.

Microenterprise development


What is “microenterprise development”?

Microenterprise development is a broad term used to refer to providing financial services for people living in poverty. These services can include loans, insurance, and a place to deposit savings. Though often undervalued by those with ready access to capital and savings, these services can make the difference between economic opportunity and poverty.

How great is the need for these services?

2.1 billion people around the world live on less than $3.10 a day, often lacking access to adequate food, shelter, and employment opportunities. 2 billion people do not have access to financial services, with only 28 percent of adults in low-income countries having an account, compared to 91 percent in high-income countries.

How does Christ-centered microenterprise development impact clients?

Through discipleship, training, a safe place to save, and small loans, individuals in poverty recognize the gifts God has placed in their hands—their time, talents, and dreams. They also build sums of money that serve as safety nets for emergencies and allow them to invest in businesses. In the process, men and women are empowered to tackle poverty, run thriving businesses, grow in their relationships with God, and become providers in their families and communities.

Why does HOPE offer savings services? Do HOPE’s clients have enough money to save?

Throughout much of the world, bank accounts are scarce—a privilege reserved for the rich. Though it may seem hard to imagine that those in poverty would have a great need for savings services, they actually so value the ability to save that in some circumstances they will pay for the privilege. Saving money in a safe place protects it from being lost, from physical deterioration, or from being depleted as personal or community needs arise. Savings allow families in poverty to hedge against extraordinary events, such as weddings, funerals, or natural disasters. HOPE provides savings services that are safe and liquid to many clients who might otherwise lack access to traditional banks.

Why do many loans go to women?

In many cultures in which HOPE works, women have long stood in the margins of society, deprived of education and even prohibited from working outside the home. Surveys have demonstrated that in nearly every country, women work longer hours than men, though at least 50 percent of their total work time is dedicated to unpaid work (UNFPA). Studies have also demonstrated that women are worthy of investment. When a microenterprise development organization empowers a woman to improve her income, the resulting profits are typically poured back into the family, providing better nutrition, housing, or education for her children. Because females are more frequently deprived of the collateral needed to access a traditional loan and the means to make a living, the percent of female clients reached by a microfinance institution is often considered a measure of the depth of poverty that organization is confronting. However, HOPE believes that it is also important for men to find meaningful employment, access financial services, and hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, so HOPE does not bar men from accessing its services.

What is a solidarity group?

A solidarity group is a group of approximately 5-15 individuals who are held jointly liable for one another’s loans. This lending approach can stand on its own or be used as part of a larger community bank by allowing successful clients to graduate into a solidarity group after several successful loan cycles. For graduates of a community bank, these smaller groups offer more flexibility and higher loan sizes.

What is a savings and credit association?

Savings and credit associations (SCAs), or savings groups, bring financial services to individuals who lack the opportunity to save, often due to their remote location. Groups are established and meet on a regular basis; the group members decide together on an amount to save per month or week. They pool their agreed-upon savings and keep it in a lock box or bank account. Members can then apply for loans from the group’s pooled savings. They agree upon an interest rate. This provides those living in poverty with access to savings and credit. HOPE partners primarily with the local church to operate these SCAs.

What is a community bank?

A community bank is a group of approximately 15-45 individuals from within a community who come together to create a financial support group. The members within the group are able to borrow small amounts of money from an MFI (microfinance institution) to provide working capital for their small businesses. Due to the members’ lack of physical collateral, the group cross-guarantees one another’s loans. This model is designed to reach those living in poverty in urban and peri-urban areas and has proven highly successful.

What does small and medium enterprise (SME) mean?

Small and medium enterprises vary in size based on different definitions, but HOPE defines its SME initiatives as benefiting clients who receive loans in the range of $2,500-$40,000. SME loans support larger businesses to further accelerate their growth and allow them to expand employment opportunities in their communities.

What does operational self-sufficiency (OSS) mean?

Operational self-sufficiency (OSS) is a ratio of local operating revenue to local operating expenses. Reaching 100 percent OSS signifies that a microfinance institution’s local operating revenue can cover local operating expenses, allowing external donations to be dedicated toward fueling additional expansion.

What does net portfolio outstanding (NPO) mean?

Net portfolio outstanding (NPO) is the sum of loan funds in the hands of HOPE clients that has not yet been repaid, less any loan loss reserve.

What are individual loans?

This loan product provides loans to individuals who become solely responsible for the repayment of interest and principle. These loans are often supported by guarantors or may even be collateralized. Individual loan sizes are typically larger than those of group loan products. Individual loans are made to clients who have an established history of repayment and can now use larger loans or clients who reside in countries/regions where community banking is not feasible.

How can such a small amount ($100 - $2,000) really help?

In the countries where the HOPE network operates, these small amounts can purchase a sewing machine, a cart to transport produce to market, nutritious feed for animals, or a market stall for selling goods. It can also allow an entrepreneur to purchase supplies in bulk or to hire an employee to increase efficiency. Small efficiency gains can make a big difference for families living in poverty.

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