Impact Reports No. 1: GoCorps

Impact Report No. 1: How Barnabas Group Members are Changing the
San Francisco Bay Area and the World





Paul Van Der Werf, E. D.


Executive Director Paul Van Der Werf sought partners’ help in figuring out how to scale the program to drive down the cost of recruiting college graduates and to increase the numbers of participants. GoCorps has partnered with 15 leading mission-sending organizations to develop 12 different tracks for graduates who are interested in serving two years abroad before launching into a career or graduate school. It is designed for vast majority of Christian students who are not planning the typical missionary path with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) or Youth with a Mission.

The organization’s broad goal is to help Christians in their 20s make service abroad part of their life plan. There’s never an easier time to spend two years serving and applying the skills learned in college. For instance, a survey of Harvard students showed 18 percent had applied to either Teach America or the Peace Corps. That’s compared to 0.25 percent of Christian graduates serving off-shore for two years. GoCorps offers the single application and a single website and then matches graduates with mission agencies. It sent its first group of graduates in 2010.

One key advantage for GoCorps compared with the traditional agencies is that they can move a student from application to field service in six months. That includes raising support ($2,500/month) in a period of 12 weeks compared to the 2 years it takes in most mission organizations. Incidentally, the staff raises its own support. One incentive built into the GoCorps funding program is $5,000 to pay down student loans. While abroad, the monthly support covers minimum payments on the loans and includes $100/month toward matching the $2,500 from GoCorps.


How does GoCorps increase the effectiveness of recruiting while decreasing costs?


By Kim Pace

  1. Define value proposition to stakeholders.
    1. Paul write out thoughts.
    2. Work with 3-4 senior leaders/staff/board.
    3. Interview prime alumni on their experience.
    4. Test.
    5. Circle back to the team (B) and refine.
    6. Create message and delivery.
  2. Approach Christian college in Minnesota to help create delivery methods as a marketing project (will help keep costs down).
  3. Draft a consistent elevator speech (such as Global Career Launch).

Ministry will focus on Action Step #1.


By Bob Garrett

Goal: A change in the organizational messaging targeted differently to various stakeholder groups and how this marketing message change is to be communicated through various vehicles that includes the Internet, Social Media and other marketing materials.

Desired Outcomes

  1. New Elevator Speech for Donors.
  2. New Elevator Speech for Students & Recent Grads.
  3. New Elevator Speech for Collegiate Leaders.
  4. Guidance for messaging for a new website landing page design.
  5. Guidance for changing messaging on website.
  6. Marketing Plan for 2017-18.

Understand value proposition that differs with Potential Goers, Parents, Professors and Collegiate Leaders (influencers).


  1. Create list of items that are high value propositions for Goers—In Staff Meeting March 13—DONE.
  2. Create list of items that are high value propositions for Collegiate Leaders—Mobilization Team Meeting—PAUL—end of March, need to schedule date.
  3. Survey professors of why they invite GoCorps into their classes—CHRISTINA.
  4. Survey of (ideal) alumni – why did you do GoCorps? What is GoCorps value proposition?—LINDSEY—Deadline April 10.
  5. Survey of Goer parents—ISAIAH (OR MIKE).
  6. Compile results of surveys/info gathering for each stakeholder group.
  7. Craft new elevator speech for students and recent grads.
  8. Craft new elevator speech for collegiate leaders.
  9. Brainstorm and implement changes to website landing page.
  10. Brainstorm and implement changes to website at large re: parents.
  11. Other action/implementation items or resources to develop re: parents?

Paul and Bob spoke the week before the Ideation Session. The outcome was some coaching thoughts on messaging:

  1. Positive Career Experience—Provides a challenging overseas work experience that enhances a participant’s future resume. Both learning a language and raising funds for two years shows future employers’ skills in planning and execution. Give positive examples from grads, employers or graduate schools.
  2. Get a Better Job—GoCorps focuses on reentry employment or grad school for grads successfully finishing 2 year placement. How does that reentry process work with what success? Blog postings from grads could accentuate this section.
  3. Exceptional Training and Problem Resolution Counselors—GoCorps provides location- and track-specific training and then ongoing training (where, when, how often?). Grads and parents want to know their graduate will not be forgotten and, if floundering, there is problem resolution help. This training/preparedness explanation of existing Organizational Partners and future Mentors needs to be deeper.
  4. Safe—The graduate will be safe. Fifteen partner organizations have been vetted and presumably audited each year. “How does GoCorps pick an overseas partner organization?” would be a good, additional explanation section.
  5. Meaningful work for a first job—All jobs should have defined and trackable goals and objectives that, if achieved, would ultimately be resume-enhancing for the graduate. Explain GoCorps idea of making a Christian difference globally. Blog postings could also accentuate this “you can make a difference” idea. Explaining a vision of success is very important as GoCorps expressly targets “ordinary men and women.”

Paul noted that his visitation with four Goers in Malawi had some mixed emotions as the NGO (runs a refugee camp) was less attentive to the students than Paul and the students expected. Maintaining better communications with the NGOs and perhaps moving to a business model proposed by Larry Wiens (having a Goer employee overseas charged with creating consistent communications with NGOs and connecting Goer interns in meaningful ways) may be critical to the long-term goals of the company.

The GoCorps board has heard Paul’s input of a need to change GoCorps messaging and there has been some helpful data collection through new interviews with alumni, parents and referral professors. But, significant work in writing a changed messaging marketing strategy and revised elevator pitch has not really happened at this point in time.

We have set a final meeting target date of May 2nd for a final presentation of the marketing pitch. I told Paul that May 2nd (past a six week window) was the Barnabas deadline for this project and I also said that I would be happy to review and counsel on a revised strategic plan that is targeted for a July finish. I requested that Paul consider giving a one year feedback as to whether the messaging and strategic ideas delivered by the Barnabas Ideation proved to be useful for GoCorps

Discussed prioritizing and setting a clear 6-week project plan. Paul noted that a two-week trip to Africa to see Goers might derail the timeline and I noted a similar vacation plan. Our next touch back was therefore deferred to early April in when Paul would show me some of the new messaging his team had produced.

Paul delivered a messaging work plan strategy (noted in specific tasks above) on March 13. After close to two months, Barnabas delivered some salient ideas on how GoCorps marketing message could be improved. And, we also identified that GoCorp has to better own the process and communications during the two-year period their interns are overseas.

In summary Paul said, “Barnabas was helpful and valuable to make his pitch in front of a room full of people that could help him. The Ideation session became about changing his organizational messaging which he did not fully expect as he was thinking more of getting ideas on the mechanics delivering the message in different mediums. Interestingly, Ron Thomas (a new Barnabas member) called Paul directly with some very specific ideas for better targeting of college prospects and use of Internet”.

We decided that a follow-up in one year to see how these ideas had changed the organization would be interesting and productive.


June 2017 Report from Paul Van Der Werf, Executive Director of GoCorps.