Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Four 9 to 5 days - so glad I am retired

I leapt at the chance to represent Empower at an EU workshop on the Project Management Cycle.I could  hone my skills, be more useful to Empower, and meet other Malaysian NGO staff. I left our condo at 8 and returned around 6:15. After the first day I missed the leisurely life of a retiree..

Participants listening to a presentation
The workshop was to increase the number and quality of funding proposals NGOs submit to the EU, the largest external development donor in the world. EU's  funding in Malaysia is relatively modest. Environmental and sustainability projects receive 79% of EU aid in Malaysia and human rights projects 5% (578 million Euro).

The major lesson - Not skilled at building and presenting log frames?  Forget seeking EU funding.

Other lessons:

Lesson 1: As an instructor I could covered log frames quickly and superficially; as a potential grant applicant I had to adopt an EU reviewer's perspective. A log frame looks deceptively easy to assemble, but working with a group of people confirmed that it isn't. Because a clear, logical log frames are critical to an EU proposal they can't be ignored or re-engineered.

Lesson 2 & 3: A concept note is not a chatty narrative of the proposal. No matter what the proposal says, do the log frame before the concept note.

Lesson 4: Grantors making relatively large grants expect the grantees to invest time to identify and work with stake holders and develop completely all aspects of the proposal (log frame, concept note, budget and so forth).
Checking a log frame in progress. Shawl was not a fashion statement - the room was cold.
A picture of all participants would show women wrapped in shawls and men in warm up jackets.
Lesson 5: Different donors may use different project management tools and terms - one has to adjust to the donor not the reverse.

Lesson 6: A workshop with Malaysian human rights NGOs is always worth attending;  meeting serious, bright, dedicated people is uplifting. And there is tea-time, an important beginning point for initiating new relationships.

My next steps. (1) To meet with Empower staff, along with my co-trainee, and review what we learned and brainstorm how to apply the workshop's lessons. (2) If approved by the training staff to post the presentations on a website.

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