Digicel Foundation advocates for sustainable model of donor funding
Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) need to transform the way they operate through diversification of funding sources and implementing proper monitoring and evaluation. This was the main topic of discussion at the recently held Community Development Forum hosted by the Digicel Foundation at the Knutsford Court Hotel on July 1, 2014. The event, which took place under the theme, “Building Strategic Partnerships and Collaboration in Community Development,” provided an opportunity for partners and stakeholders to discuss case studies and share best practices. The conclusion - NGOs need to change the way they distribute funds in order to achieve the greatest impact.
Keynote Speaker at the event, Dr. Kadamawe K’nIfe, emphasised that when evaluating the social impact of activities carried out by NGOs, the highest return on investment occurs when a sustainable venture is undertaken. Therefore, when deciding how to spend their funds, NGOs need to ascertain the long-term viability of the initiative. Knife continued, “It is not about subsistence welfare models anchored in volunteerism, it is about self-wealth creation premised on a high growth model.” The Digicel Foundation has championed this approach since 2012 when it embarked on a pilot programme in conjunction with the Office of Social Entrepreneurship at the University of the West Indies. The initiative, named ‘Back to Roots—Stronger Roots, Stronger Communities, Stronger Nation’ emphasises the importance of sustainability in community projects through the creation of essential tools and business assets. Senior Programme Manager for Community Development, Kerry-Jo Lyn, explained that, “We find that we achieve the highest level of impact when we empower people to help themselves rather than providing them with funds that will ultimately diminish.” Before the Digicel Foundation awards a grant to a community group, it ensures that the group has a proper budget, business plan and governance structure. This ensures that the investment is secure and will increase in value by providing future profits for grantees. Oronde McNish, President of the St. Thomas Bee Farm, and Digicel Foundation grantee, noted that he believes, “The economics of a country have a lot of bearing on how empowered people actually feel.” He continued by suggesting that empowering at-risk populations is the surest way to reduce poverty, unemployment and crime. The event was well attended by members of the NGO community, private-sector and government ministries, with representatives from the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Social Development Commission (SDC), United States Agency for International Development, Sandals Foundation, Jamaica National Foundation and the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, among others. Over the past ten years, the Digicel Jamaica Foundation has invested over JA $2billion in more than 400 projects across the island that have positively impacted over 446,000 Jamaicans. The Foundation remains committed to expanding the reach of development projects through new innovative life-changing partnerships and projects. This was the second of three forums that the Foundation will coordinate this year in recognition of its 10th Anniversary.