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The FCDE approach can be broken into three distinct phases. In the first phase, FCDE chooses locations that work most effectively with our approach. We focus on the existing capacity of local non-profits, the breadth of services they offer and the community’s interest in being involved in development. We look for a variety of CBOs that have reached an intermediate stage of development and work in multiple sectors.
Once an appropriate location has been identified, FCDE sets up a local office and resource center with a staff of three. For the lead position, FCDE hires someone from the local community who has direct experience with the region’s NGO network. The employment of local community members on the site team enables a peer-based approach to capacity-building, which we have found to be most effective in transferring skills, identifying obstacles and working towards sustainability. To infuse the team with a diversity of development and organizational best practices, another of the staff positions is filled with a professional from outside the host country who has international development experience. Once trained in the FCDE approach, the site team begins an extensive process of engaging with the local NGO/CBO/GRO (non-governmental organization/community-based organization/grassroots organization) community. FCDE holds outreach activities such as town hall gatherings, workshops and individual meetings as part of the process of establishing formal partnerships with 15–25 organizations focused in FCDE’s target areas.
FCDE’s second phase involves working with the partner organizations to better understand their organizational needs and initiate the process of capacity building. The FCDE site team uses institutional self-assessments, meetings with staff and clients, as well as direct observation, to allow each CBO to identify how FCDE could best provide support.
Once priorities are established, the site team leads activities that address the self-identified needs of the partner organizations. Specific work plans differ depending on needs, but are generally built around a core of workshops, preparation for the support and integration of FCDE interns and volunteers, and regularly scheduled meetings with key personnel. The site team also identifies external resources, such as short-term contractors or program-related materials that need to be integrated.
The third phase of FCDE’s approach facilitates project expansion, program efficacy and helps develop new activities. FCDE provides multifaceted support to ensure a higher likelihood of project success. FCDE uses interns, seed funds (grants) and site team support to work with the CBOs in pursuit of their objectives.
At this point in the process FCDE supports the longer term objectives of its development approach. The capacity to develop business plans, write grants, integrate program design and management skills, and implement sound financial tools all enhance the long-term financial viability, sustainability and impact of partner organizations.