NLN10: Vision and Nonprofit Impact with Dave Irby

Dave and Susie IrbyDave Irby, the founder of Surge International, is our guest in this episode of the Nonprofit Leaders Network Podcast series. Dave has traveled the world as a soccer coach, or football coach as it would be called in other parts of the world. He is a missionary using the powerful platform of soccer to share a message of love and hope in over fifty countries. Holder of a USA Soccer A Coaching license and a Masters degree in Teaching, Dave founded Surge International in 1991. Surge currently works in eight countries, including Burundi, where Dave is headed next.

Here are some of the highlights from this podcast.


Often, vision is a process. The vision for me was God given. I was coaching soccer and I began praying for what God would want me to do, and one of my players said. “Why don’t you bring the soccer team down to Mexicali with our outreach group to play some games …a game in the men’s prison and the boy’s prison in the village?” So we did, and that first step of faith of a five-day trip led on the following year to a twenty-three-day jaunt to five or six countries. I felt called into youth soccer full time without knowing hardly He was doing it. I think the vision shapes over time and it changes and morphs as you stay with it.


We measure the impact that our work is having both through informal feedback that we receive by staying, for example, in the trenches looking into peoples eyes and seeing the how privileged we have been to bless them, and through some formal processes we have in place. We get written reports from, say, Burundi of things which are happening when we are not there and other forms of feedback. Mostly though we kind of have a feel after years of doing this what’s working and what’s not, and that combined with the feedback helps us decide whether to continue with a project or not.


I am what I’d call a random visionary. I am all over the place, and there are no set hours. When you run nonprofits I think you really need to manage your time. You need to ensure that you make time for your family, as well as everyone else you tend to want to help. Set aside time, make formal appointments in your diary, carve them out time; sit down face to face as a family communicating with no other distractions, which in this day and age is hard. These are things that I think have really helped.

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