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Enhancing Local NGO Networks

FCDE adheres to a participatory development model, which emphasizes an investment in people and their capacity for producing change. Our approach enables local communities to guide their own development objectives by increasing the capacity of existing community-based organizations and enhancing local NGO networks. Our projects move away from ‘discrete, piecemeal interventions’ towards a more strategic, partner-oriented focus (Brehm 2004). FCDE’s model offers a network (social assets) for organizations where they feel connected to and supported by the community, FCDE, and other partner CBO (community based organization) sites.

We hire local professional staff to spearhead the FCDE site team and initiate the building of partnerships and cultivating community engagement. Realizing that organizations and communities need resources beyond their reach, FCDE establishes a local office, registered with the national charitable organization registrar, which also functions as an NGO resource center.

In each new country site, FCDE establishes 15-25 partnerships with local CBOs who work within our seven targeted program areas: health, small business development, women’s empowerment, HIV and AIDS, environment, education and social justice. By focusing on diverse issues and linking organizations together, FCDE allows the organizations to more fully address the range of needs affecting their daily lives. Acting as a facilitator, we help our partners grow while initiating an NGO network linked by collective, community-driven objectives. FCDE offers a range of activities and events that help cultivate and enhance these connections. For example, the in-country site teams hold ongoing capacity building workshops with all partner sites. This allows leaders of the organizations to come together, share ideas, trouble shoot common challenges, and create joint solutions.

These peer-based networks have been shown to increase access to more support and resources, decrease duplication of services, promote the sharing of best practices, and help a community build a more comprehensive system to further their development efforts. The FCDE site team becomes intimately aware of the needs, styles, programmatic coverage and objectives of FCDE’s partner organizations, using this information to continuously connect people and organizations. This personal touch is often the most critical piece in helping organizations most effectively utilize networks and existing resources.

These relationships among community organizations have been shown to have significant impacts in sustainable development goals; “a network of civil society groups, who speak with one voice, is far more effective in promoting policy change than a disparate group of NGOs. Likewise, the quality of service delivery can be greatly improved if the various providers, whether in the public or private sector, collaborate in delivering a coordinated and comprehensive package of services” (PACTworld.com).

Kretzmann, JP and McKnight JL, Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community's Assets, Evanston, IL: Institute for Policy Research (1993)