Here is an interesting guide for those involved with funding NGOs around the world. Don’t be put off by the title - you may still be intelligent even if you don’t follow all the principles!
Here are the ten principles which are discussed in the guide.
Principle 1: UNDERSTAND CIVIL SOCIETY
Through innovative tools and mapping exercises, understand civil society and the context in which it operates; identify the “agents and drivers of change” in civil society, and understand their motivations and restrictions.
Principle 2: RESPECT CIVIL SOCIETY’S NATURE
Respect the diversity and variety of civil society. Do not impose your own agenda, but symbolically acknowledge civil society’s diversity through statements of intent that mirror your ethos and determine the rules of your engagement.
Principle 3: ENGAGE AS PARTNERS
Listen to the stakeholders and beneficiaries, and find frameworks for dialogue and applied learning. Act on what you have been told – engage your stakeholders and ultimately aim to build a real partnership with the recipients of your funding. Find forums to channel the engagement, such as multi-stakeholder groups. Build ways of engagement with other donors from your sector, and other sectors.
Principle Number 4: HAVE A LONG-TERM VIEW
Balance the short-term goals with long-term, strategic approaches. Be in it for the long haul – become an effective partner for your beneficiaries, and help them build their capacity through long-term and core support. Find ways to make your funding approaches clear and consistent.
Principle 5: MAXIMISE COMBINED RESOURCES
Be responsive to the local context in your programming. Tap into the ideas, resources and enthusiasm of your civil society partner and maximise those combined resources.
Principle 6: FOCUS ON ACCOUNTABLE RESULTS
Adhere to self-regulation, good practice guidance and standards set with your peers. Agree on expected and realistic outcomes with the grantee through results-based management and consequently ensure a shared strategic approach. Inform your beneficiaries about any changes in your approach.
Principle 7: BE TRANSPARENT
Be open about your opinion and evaluation processes and results and your aims and motivation in entering a funding relationship. Be clear in your purpose and intentions, about the source of your funding and the process of your decision-making.
Principle 8: INVEST WITH PURPOSE
Funding civil society is an investment of more than money. You invest time, intellectual and financial capital. Define why you are investing in a specific partnership, what your purpose in this relationship is, and what you wish to receive in turn from your partner.
Principle 9: LEARN
Innovate, test and implement methods of evaluation and assessment to continually improve your understanding, effectiveness and responsiveness, in a manner that is neither too arduous nor just ticking boxes. Work with your civil society partner on learning lessons from your partnership.
Principle 10: SHARE WITH YOUR PEERS
Share your learning and knowledge with other donors, through formal and informal engagement. Become a more effective donor through harmonisation with other donors.
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Mark Blumberg is a partner at the law firm of Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto and works almost exclusively in the areas of non-profit and charity law.