Name of Expert: Simon collings and Jana Ledvinova
Date of mission: 24-30 November 2006
Working Days: 5 days
Brief description of the purpose of the mission:
To brief the CSO team from the Ministry of Health on the following topics:
- CSO sustainability – options for CSOs to mobilise resources and what is involved in building their capacity to do this.
- CSO networks – models of successful network formation and financing
- Planning a series of workshops for CSOs designed to facilitate the creation of a sustainable network in reproductive health.
Brief description of the main activities and results during the mission:
A four day workshop was conducted inAnkarafrom 27-30 November. The first two days were a training in CSO sustainability covering sources of funds and other support, techniques for securing support and linked issues around CSO management capacities, programme quality, accountability and financial management. The third day focused on why a CSO network is needed, what it will do and what MoH can do to assist such a network. Examples and lessons were shared fromEastern Europe. Criteria and processes for selecting participants in the planned workshop series were agreed. A format for a possible ‘donors directory’ was also discussed. On the fourth day the programme for the three workshops for the CSOs were planned in some detail, and roles and responsibilities agreed along with dates.
There are clearly good reasons why a network of CSOs working in reproductive health would be a positive development inTurkey. The EU funded grants to CSOs participating in RHP has had a positive benefit in starting to strengthen CSOs in the sector and momentum needs to be sustained. A network would enable the CSOs to continue to meet together and learn from each other, to access support and to coordinate activities. MoH believes CSOs do have an important role to play in reaching communities with information, advice and guidance on reproductive health matters and wishes to facilitate and support the formation of a CSO network. MoH is able to offer material support in the form of office space, personnel, information and data, and materials. The CSO team can also facilitate cooperation between CSOs and health service units. MoH would like the network to be a channel for dialogue with government.
It is fully recognised that for the network to be sustainable it needs to come from within the CSOs themselves, to be fully owned and led by them. Any attempt to impose a network from above is likely to be still born. But the CSO team can play a very positive role in convening a discussion amongst interested CSOs and supporting their efforts to form such a network. The programme of workshops for the CSOs needs to be a process of facilitation. This was agreed by the CSO team, the TAT CSO advisor and the consultants.
The other key issue which will need to be addressed if the network is to be sustainable is resources. The consultant’s advice is that the CSOs need to find the resources to sustain the network and the ideal structure would involve some sort of membership fee. Presently the majority of the CSOs are very weak financially and will need a great deal of support in developing their own resource base, as well as that of the network. At the same time we believe that if MoH wants CSOs to carry out specific information campaigns, or provide other services, government should be prepared to pay for this. At the beginning we feel that is a danger in injecting too much money into the network. If it becomes a channel for more grants there is a risk that CSOs participate only because money is available. Resources should be put into the network but a matching amount of effort needs to be contributed by the CSOs.
We believe that the network could play a useful role in helping member CSOs develop their resource base. Some of this could be done through assistance to individual CSOs but some fundraising and resource mobilisation could be undertaken collectively. There are many cases where the CSOs acting together are more likely to succeed in securing support than if they act alone, e.g. enlisting celebrity support, or establishing a partnership with a large company. We therefore recommend that we seek funds to allow the Network to provide training and support in capacity building in resource mobilisation.
Building capacity generally is not easy. It takes time and a lot of coaching and support. There is no ‘quick fix’ to the resource challenge but over 2-3 years it will be possible, given the right level of support, to get many of the members CSOs, and the network itself, onto a sustainable financial footing. This will require fairly intensive support by experienced fundraising professionals focused around specific fundraising plans and activities. It will also require us to get the right leadership in place for the network – someone dynamic and entrepreneurial.
In the short-term the focus needs to be on trying to find some seed funding – around Euro 100k to enable the network to establish an office, appoint a director and contract ongoing support from advisors for a year. We suggest that EPOS speak with people in ECD to explore the possibility of unspent grant balances being used to provide a grant to the network to help it get started. A proposal for funding could be formulated by a consortium of CSOs who agree to form the network.
In parallel with the workshop series we recommend that the consultants, do some research on potential grant funding sources and open a dialogue with potential funders. In working with the CSOs on their funding plans we can develop an approach which takes into account the requirements of real prospective donors.
We strongly recommend that sustainability training looks beyond grants and beyond the short term. From the beginning the network needs to have some plans for how it will build a diversified funding base over time. There are lots of options including earning income, private sector support, governmental contracts, and support from individual donors. All of these need to be explored. InPraguethe Open Society Foundation has created a training centre which also operates as a hotel. This centre generates a healthy income which sustains the foundation’s work. This might be the kind of model the Network could adopt. If this were to be possible we would need to identify a source of capital – either a donation or more likely a no/low interest loan. There are a number of interesting mechanisms being developed by the financial sector inEuropeto make low cost loans available to social enterprises. We have shared a recent report on this with you. We recommend speaking with KfW, who you mentioned, to gauge their potential interest.
We found the CSO team to be extremely progressive and forward thinking. They have a very good understanding of CSOs and a high level of commitment to the project. Their approach to establishing the proposed reproductive health network is very innovative and deserves support as it could provide a very positive model for future cooperation between the Government of Turkey and the civil society sector.
ii) The very late agreements about contracts left the consultants very little time to prepare. It was impossible to provide slides and handouts in advance for translation. Briefing from the CSO Adviser was extremely useful, however, enabling us to get up to speed quickly. Because of the need for EPOS/Options to receive an extension the consultants currently have no contract for further work. If preparation is to be carried out adequately before the next workshop on 29 Jan a contract needs to be agreed quickly (within the next few weeks).
The original terms of reference require the majority of preparation time to be spent inTurkey. Given the timescales and availability of the consultants it is recommended that a greater number of days are allowed for preparation in the home country. We suggest of the 14 days currently requiring in country presence 8 are released and are allowed as home preparation.
We suggest that an inexpensive training venue is used for the CSO workshops if possible, rather than a hotel. The needs of participants for internet access, etc need to be taken into account though. It would be desirable to have at least one social event on one of the evenings of the first workshop to assist with team building.
Close support from TAT for logistics, translation and rapporteuring will be required as the number of participants is high.
Documents for download: