The 2014 T&T NGO Professionals TOBAGO FORUM was attended by more than 50 people representing more than 30 civil society organizations in Tobago.
Here are ten takeaways from the Forum’s opening panel discussion –The Role of Civil Society Organisations – The Way Forward, which featured Dr. Eastlyn McKenzie, Former Independent Senator; Victor Hart, Chair of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Steering Committee; ASP Collis Hazel, Roxborough Police Youth Club; Neila-Bobb Prescott, Sr. Technical Officer, Caribbean Natural Resources Institute (CANARI); Juliana Antoine, Environment Tobago; and Inca Mohamed, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and representative for the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust.
- Takeaway #1 – Your organization is important, and its work is essential to the development of our communities, the island and our nation.” Dr. Eastlyn McKenzie
- Takeaway #2 – “Be brave, be bold, don’t be boxed in by dependency. Remember your organization is not an arm of a ministry of government.” Dr. Eastlyn McKenzie
- Takeaway #3 – “We see your board of directors as ultimately having oversight of grants and funds, so choose your board of directors carefully.” Inca Mohamed
- Takeaway #4 – “NGOs must play close attention to transparency & accountability in order to sit at the funding table.” Victor Hart
Action Item: Download the free Trinidad & Tobago Civil Society Accountability Toolkit for more information on practical steps, tools and frameworks that CSOs can use to realise accountability.
- Takeaway #5 – “Put as much care into crafting your NGO grant proposal as you do in the work that you’re doing on behalf of your organization.” Inca Mohamed
- Takeaway #6 – “Approach grant writing from an entrepreneurial perspective by thinking about and planning for your program’s sustainability beyond the grant date.” Collis Hazel
- Takeaway #7 – “Build an evaluation component into your programs and activities during the planning phase. And it doesn’t need to be a complicated evaluation, just a mechanism that holds you accountable. ” Inca Mohamed
- Takeaway #8 – “Organizations are created as a response to needs, and that is what will keep you. And, if needs change, shake up your petticoats, get going and change direction.” Dr. Eastlyn McKenzie.
- Takeaway #9 – “Capacity is much more than organizational knowledge. It’s your staff, organizational structure, procedures, adaptive strategies, linkages (who do you work with).” Neila Bobb-Prescott
Action Item: Download this free toolkit on Capacity Building for NGOs to learn how to build the capacity of your organization.
- Takeaway #10 – “Doing good work without anyone knowing about it sadly almost like doing nothing. Get out there; tell your story to the newspaper, radio and television.” Collis Hazel
Action Item: Read our tips to get started on more proactive media outreach — 5 Easy Tactics for T&T NGO Media Outreach; Media Tips for T&T NGOs Pulled from Media Coverage; 5 “New” Media Targets for NGOs in Trinidad & Tobago
- Takeaway #11 – “Information sharing is vital to the success of CSOs. Share information about funding opportunities, new programs, partnership opportunities and much more.” Juliana Antoine
Action Item: Start sharing today by sharing these takeaways with five organizations. Also, make a list of five or more NGOs and resolve to reach out to them weekly via email with news about your organization and other news and updates that may be of interest to them.