Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play a crucial role in peacebuilding by serving their communities, by leveraging their influence at the national or global level, and by engaging policy and decision-makers. Since its start in 2009, PeaceNexus Foundation has been supporting the organisational development of peacebuilding organisations. Through Organisational Development (OD) support, we help local civil society organisations (CSOs) and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) overcome organisational challenges and achieve more impact.
WHAT IS ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Our practice of Organisational Development (OD) is informed by the idea that OD is about the ability of organisations to achieve their own objectives through a combination of sound internal systems and practices.
We see that many organisations working on social change and cohesion face organisational challenges related to their identity and governance, internal structure and funding. In addition to that, we believe that civil society actors working on peacebuilding need to have the ability to understand the operational context, interpret it and anticipate major changes in order to adapt and innovate when current practice fails to achieve intended results. We also see the ability to develop coherent strategies, build relationships with multiple stakeholders, to mobilise actors and resources, and to influence policy and decision-makers as crucial elements of effective peacebuilding. Therefore, OD processes supported by PeaceNexus tend to focus on these challengeswhich are essential for organisations to manage their change, growth and learning processes and effectively deliver on their peacebuilding mission in a sustainable way (see also: What kind of OD processes would PeaceNexus support?).
For concrete examples of what OD support can help you achieve in practice, please find summaries of our previous and current OD partnerships under these links:
WHY ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
We believe that in communities affected by violent conflict, change needs to happen from within, and that CSOs and INGOs play a vital role in this. When selecting partners, we seek out the real change makers and champions in the field, since they are worth investing in and could achieve even more if they overcame their organisational challenges. By helping them with that, we strive to be a champion of change.
Ideally INGOs and local CSOs play a complementary role: while local CSOs know their constituents and local dynamics well, INGOs can play a particular role in influencing policy at a global level or in reinforcing local efforts where capacities and space are scarce. While CSOs and INGOs may be positioned differently, they are affected by similar leadership, governance, management and transition challenges that appear wherever humans come together to strive for impact and change – often driven by shared values, but at times not aligned on how to translate those into practice.
While we acknowledge that peace-building organisations share certain features and challenges, we do pay attention to the uniqueness of every organisation.
A recent survey demonstrates the effectiveness of our approach:
- Over 80% of our partner organisations consider us to be very good or excellent in listening and responding to their concerns.
- Our partners value equally the financial support we provide as well our expertise in process design and organisational development. When asked about the main strengths of PeaceNexus OD support, they mostly mentioned its flexibility and tailored approach. Furthermore, our organisational development grantees consider it a strong asset that we accompany them at key junctures in their change processes.
- Three quarters of our partner organisations say that they would not have been able to achieve their organisational development goals without our support. Over 60% of our partners reported that PeaceNexus support played a role regarding their biggest peacebuilding achievements of the past two years.
 Conducted by an independent consultant in November 2016, surveying the 22 organisations that have or are currently receiving PeaceNexus OD support
CRITERIA FOR SELECTION
We select our OD partners on the basis of their current and potential peacebuilding impact in the context in which they operate as well as on the analysis of their needs, readiness and ability to engage in an organisational change process.
Current and potential peace-building impact
We do not set a narrow definition of what peacebuilding entails, but we look at an organisation through the lens of its context, including the political regime, the space for civil society actors, the main sources of conflict and the capacities and funding available. Our partners’ work can be broadly categorised in the following clusters:
1. Improving citizen participation in governance;
2. Transforming drivers of conflict;
3. Supporting more inclusive approaches to peacebuilding. Peacebuilding contributions that do not fall in these three categories can be included in a fourth cluster
4. (“other”) in the online application form.
Need, readiness and ability to engage in an organisational change process
Our approach is demand-driven and informed by our partners’ needs. That is why we need to understand why you want your organisation to change and how ready you are for it. Frustration with the status quo and a vision of what there is to gain if you succeed typically drive change – so do not forget to mention these aspects in your application.
In 2017, we welcome applications from local CSOs based and active in the following geographical areas:
- The Western Balkans: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia
- Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan
- West Africa: Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, Senegal
INGOs whose mandate includes – or aspires to include – peacebuilding may also apply, if they conduct operational work in 5 countries or more. The countries in which they operate can be outside of the regions listed above.
Applying organisations need to have a bank account and publish annual financial reports. We only work with partners that conduct operational peacebuilding work.
You will also need to confirm in your application that you are not already partnering with PeaceNexus Foundation . Due to legal constraints, we can only support activities that will not violate the USA PATRIOT Act (18 U. S. C. §2339B).
HOW WE APPROACH ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
We favour participatory approaches to organisational development, since we believe that change can only be successful if those expected to make it happen are actively involved in shaping it. If your organisation gets selected, we will start the process by visiting you in order to explore together what you want to achieve and how we can help you (see: If selected, what are the next steps?). The purpose of this meeting is to get to a shared understanding of the main challenges and key objectives of your OD, and it allows us to jointly plan a ‘roadmap for change’ with concrete steps and milestones. This roadmap may need modifications along the way, but if we start on a basis of mutual understanding and build trust along the way, we can be a full partner and support you effectively in achieving your own goals (see: What will be PeaceNexus’ role?). This roadmap and the agreed objectives will also form the basis of the Grant Offer Letter, which is the contractual basis of PeaceNexus’ financial and organisational investment in your OD.
WHAT OUR ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT SUPPORT ENTAILS
PeaceNexus’ provides OD support by: (see also: If approved, what will PeaceNexus’ organisational development support entail?)
- Being a guardian of the process and a critical friend (see What will be PeaceNexus’ role?) along the way and;
- By a financial contribution to cover the expenses directly related to the OD process (see also: What is outside of the scope of PeaceNexus OD support and cannot be funded?)
The financial contribution is based on the OD partner’s needs and absorption capacity, and we allocate the funding based on the roadmap we jointly develop at the kick-off meeting. In our experience, working with an experienced OD consultant and having her/him facilitate key moments is an efficient way of enabling reflection, work through difficulties and moving to action. Where specific expertise is required, it may be necessary to bring in thematic specialists too.
PeaceNexus staff can assist you in finding and hiring the consultant best suited to your needs, but it is up to you to make the final decision and to contract them, since ownership is key to successful organisational change. Also we expect our partners to fully commit to the process and invest their own time and resources.
An effective partnership is based on mutual trust. Since an honest self-assessment and open sharing of sensitive information and internal issues are essential for success (see: What happens if things go wrong?), we act with strict confidentiality and only share information or make introductions with your approval.
If you are making progress, but your change process requires more time and efforts than anticipated, we may extend our commitment to an organisation’s OD over several years (see: How long will the organisational development support and process last?).
Frequently Asked Questions
Is this the kind of support we are looking for?
Before starting this application process, it is important that you consider carefully and discuss within your organisation whether a PeaceNexus OD grant will meet your current needs. Essentially, the questions are: Do you face an organisational challenge that hampers your peacebuilding impact and requires external support?
Are you striving for change that serves your organisation as a whole and increases your peacebuilding impact? Are you open to engaging with us and OD consultants that may challenge the way you are currently thinking and operating? Are you interested in a process where you set and pursue your own objectives while an external partner is getting involved through feedback, and by holding you accountable to your commitments?
If you and your team can say yes to these questions and meet our eligibility criteria, you are welcome to apply for OD support.
Can we apply as a network?
We believe that networks can play a role in leveraging what individual organisations are able to do, and to amplify their legitimacy and reach. We encourage applications from networks that want to increase their peacebuilding impact. Please make sure to answer the questions in the web questionnaire from a network point of view, and not for particular member organisations.
As a general rule, we do not accept applications on behalf of others, for example requests to “help develop our local partner organisations”. However, in exceptional cases we accept fiscal sponsorship by another organisation. For example, a network whose secretariat is hosted by a member organisation can apply through its host organisation if the application is fully owned by the actual applicant. If this is the case, briefly explain your organisation’s setup and the reason for not being a legal entity.
What will happen after we submit our application?
Every year we receive many applications of which many are of high quality. We have put systems in place to ensure our review is rigorous and objective. We will reach out to you if we need further clarification regarding your application, and there is no need to follow up from your side. Also, our limited capacities only allow us to directly engage with shortlisted organisations. If you do not hear back from us by end of March, your application has not been successful this time. In this case, do not hesitate to re-apply next year, if your OD challenge still persists. Please contact us by email only (no phone calls) at NGO@peacenexus.org during the application and assessment period, and only if you have an urgent question that is not covered in the FAQs.
If selected, what are the next steps?
We will contact shortlisted applicants by email and schedule phone calls with key staff and possibly board members driving the OD process. Please use these discussions to expand on your OD challenges and to ask any question you may have.
Once the PeaceNexus Board has taken the final decision, we will schedule a kick-off workshop with the selected organisations and consult you on participation and agenda. The kick-off usually takes 1.5-2 days, involves all staff members directly involved in and affected by the OD process and is facilitated by PeaceNexus NGO team members. The purpose of this workshop is to create a shared understanding on:
- the organisational challenges that should be addressed
- the desired outcome of the OD process
- a roadmap on how to get there
PeaceNexus staff will write a report on this meeting, with observations and recommendations. Once we have jointly finalised the roadmap with an estimated timeline, deliverables, roles/responsibilities, and budget allocations, we include all these elements in a Grant Offer Letter which is the contractual reference document throughout the process.
PeaceNexus selects up to ten OD partners every year. In 2017, their kick-off workshops are going to take place between April and June.
If approved, what will PeaceNexus’ organisational development support entail?
PeaceNexus OD support is twofold:
OD process accompaniment: the PeaceNexus team supports the organisational development process through the whole cycle, from the process design and roadmap development of the kick-off workshop to the final steps of implementation. Our role is largely defined by what the OD partner wants us to help with. Typically we are a bit more hands-on in the beginning, when the best suited consultant(s) need to be identified and hired. Once everything is on track, we stay in close communication but often step into a ‘on demand’ role which is more in the background except for particular milestones and events, in which we may participate. At any stage of the process we are available as a sounding board, either to help you move forward, or to readjust if things do not work out as expected. Many of our OD partners make far more use of our team members’ feedback and “critical friend” capacities than what the Grant Offer requires.
Once a support cycle comes to an end, we review the results and what needs to be done with you, and if your organisation needs more OD support and our Board approves, we engage in a second planning workshop for a follow-on phase. Our formal reporting requirements are light, comprising of a brief narrative and a financial report at the end of each support cycle.
Financial OD support: The budget and total amount allocated to each partner is determined by the roadmap for change. It covers the cost of an OD consultant and possibly other expertise, and expenses directly related to the process, for example meeting and travel costs for OD retreats or peer learning events (see alsoWhat is outside of the scope of PeaceNexus OD support and cannot be funded?). We jointly prepare a budget which is determined by the needs and absorption capacity of our partners. If changes are required and we agree to them, we can approve them through a simple email exchange. The maximum amount allocated per organisation and support cycle is CHF 20’000 for local CSOs and CHF 40’000 for INGOs respectively.
What will be PeaceNexus’ role?
In addition to our role as an investor of resources in our partners’ change process, we seek to contribute to the success of their efforts in two other ways:
We commit to being a critical friend, available and acting in our partner’s interest at all times, including by challenging potential blind spots and assumptions through constructive feedback. By doing so, we play a complementary role to the external consultant, for example by helping partners to make the best use of the support they receive, by holding them to account on their own goals or by providing feedback on how change could be perceived by the external world.
We also see our role as a guardian of the process. We accompany our OD partners in setting goals and agreeing how to achieve them. However, we understand that some processes face resistance or get stuck along the way. If this happens, we do not abandon the process, and we “hold the space” for renewed attempts.
What happens if things go wrong?
Change processes are complex and challenging. If the right solution was easily available and could be put in place smoothly, our partners would not call on external help. Therefore we expect things to be tough and some challenges may arise along the way. But we know from experience that organisations at times need to work through rough patches, resistance and failure, to come out at the other end stronger and more effective than ever. What is key in supporting you through these is a relationship of trust and open communication, so that we can engage on what is really going on in your organisation. This is what critical friends and process guardians are here for. If leveraged wisely, difficulties and resistance can be great learning opportunities and accelerators for change.
We pride ourselves in supporting OD processes in a way that is structured, values-driven and flexible at the same time. This helps our partners manoeuver tricky situations and tackle complex organisational challenges. According to a recent external survey implemented by a consultant (November 2016), a majority of our OD partners shares this view and states that they strongly benefit from this approach. There is one caveat though: if your organisation is in midst of a massive funding crisis that threatens its existence, this is not the right time since this leaves very little space for OD. Do try to approach us well ahead of such a crisis, or once you have recovered from it.
How long will the organisational development support and process last?
Every change process is different, but in our experience things tend to take more time than anticipated. Some challenges prove to be trickier than expected, the environment changes to a degree that requires significant adaptations, or creating buy-in takes more time and consultation than expected.
This is perfectly fine with us, as long as we see that you are moving towards the goal you have set. Often we even encourage OD partners to slow down and do things well, rather than rushing to respect a timeline. Our own organisational set-up allows us to be flexible, provided that our flexibility serves the partner and strengthens the results. For these reasons, we have been accompanying some OD partners for several years.
What if we have several organisational challenges we need to address?
Most organisations face several challenges at the same time, and they are usually interconnected. You can include all of them in your application while highlighting what the priorities are in your view. We will use the kick-off meeting to establish the different dimensions of your organisation’s challenges, and how they relate to each other. The resulting roadmap will determine in which order they should be addressed. As such it is an important element of our process design support. We understand that organisations can only dedicate a fraction of their time and efforts to OD, and our intention is to make sure that you use that fraction wisely and strategically.
Organisational development requires preparation and sequencing: to help our partners with planning, we engage in diligent process design, breaking ambitions down into achievable steps with tangible results. If you face too many changes to address through one cycle, we help you decide where to start. If the first cycle is successful and you want to take on more of your challenges, we are happy to suggest a follow-on phase of our collaboration to our Board and continue working with you, to ensure that you achieve comprehensive and sustainable results.
What are the organisational development support’s reporting requirements?
Since effective partnerships are based on mutual trust, we strive to establish open communication with our partners throughout OD processes. As we are in close contact with our OD partners, we only ask for a brief and reflection-oriented narrative report at the end of a support cycle, and a financial report on actual expenses. Receipts and contracts must remain available, since we typically ask for a few samples.
Once our collaboration comes to an end, we may follow up with some feedback-oriented questions that inform our organisational learning. To reflect on our own practice and to monitor progress, we also conduct annual online surveys.
We encourage partners to write up their lessons learned on their OD process, and we are happy to assist in making them available to others, for example through peer learning or publications.
What kind of OD processes would PeaceNexus support?
- Addressing diverging views on identity to clarify an organisation’s mandate and approach, so as to strengthen its ability to engage with government actors and influence policy-making;
- Strengthening an organisation’s governance mechanisms, so as to increase its internal accountability and inclusivity and be able to model the principles it aims to promote in its context;
- Improving an organisation’s ability to assess results and strengthen organisational learning, so as to build on experience and lessons learnt effectively, in order to increase impact on the ground (instead of making the same mistakes again);
- Strengthening collaboration and learning across different parts of an organisation, so as to break internal silos and foster greater coherence and effectiveness;
- Boost an organisation’s ability to understand how its interventions affect and are affected by conflict and embed conflict sensitive principles in its institutional systems, so as to reduce the risk of doing harm and increase the peacebuilding impact of its work.
What is outside of the scope of PeaceNexus OD support and cannot be funded?
- Operational activities (any kind of project or programme contributions)
- Core funding
- Staff salaries
- Administrative overhead costs
- Equipment, furnishings or office rent
- Financial audits
- Tuition for degree programs
- Accreditation processes
- Campaigns for building capital/endowments
- Recurring staff or board expenses
- One-off trainings and other capacity building measures unrelated to the principal OD objectives