Meaning of "Grassroots"

Sometimes well-meaning visitors don't understand the power of true grassroots initiatives and why too much structure creates complications, expenses and distraction, especially in Southeast Asia.  They often suggest improvements, such as becoming a registered charity or foundation (a fairly expensive process).

Project WIN has near-zero office expenses. Administrative expenses are limited to transportation of Thai volunteers to and from Project sites, simiple food for them, and related costs.  

For marketing, Director Thongin has a Facebook presence of thousands, and spends a lot of time on LINE.  It's all free. There's a strong advisory board, but no board of directors.  The day Nepal was devastated by earthquake, the Project had accumulated lots of extra donated clothing. That same afternoon Thongin and a few volunteers loaded up a couple of vans and hauled the clothes to a collection center downtown for shipment to Kathmandu.  No need for a board meeting to approve the diversion. No need for governmental approval. Grassroots means trusting the leaders on the ground to do the right thing, including pivoting if circumstances change.   

Project WIN is not an international foundation, but has shown up in a couple of hours to help a local foundation or two in crisis, with a volunteer electrician or some blankets during a cold snap.  It's just local people helping local people. If they come across a homeless family with young kids, they don't need to check with their board to determine whether helping is precisely consistent with their mission -- they just do it, and may divert a bit of food or just give their own money.   When generous foreign donors want to help out, they know they won't get to "adopt" a child or give a specific goat to a specific family and get a fancy certificate. They'll get a quick email or a word of thanks, but they'll know that nearly 100% of every dollar or Euro or yuan or pound goes into active projects.