JB Fernandes Memorial Trust II Grant Application 2019

The JB Fernandes Memorial Trust II is inviting NGOs to apply for grants for the 2019 year.   

Please find the application form here

Please submit this application electronically in word format (not a PDF). Additional attachments may be in PDF format.

Please include the following with your application:

  • A cover letter on your organization’s letterhead, briefly outlining your request, and signed by your executive director or board chair.
  • Most recently audited or independently reviewed financial statements
  • List of current board of directors, with board titles and professional affiliations
  • One paragraph resumes of key staff, including qualifications relevant to the specific request.

Submit your organization’s completed Application Form by June 30th, 2019 to:

Trinidad Country Club

137 Long Circular Road, Maraval

Attention: Patrice Forde

OR mail completed nomination and any supporting materials to:

The JB Fernandes Memorial Trust II

P.O. Box 602, Port of Spain

Please note:

  • Unsolicited applications are not accepted by the JB Fernandes Memorial Trust II;
  • An invitation to submit a proposal does not guarantee funding;
  • The Trust may request additional information during the application process;
  • A completed application form is required for consideration for funding.


Digital Transformation in 5 Easy Steps

1_0wyMavd2UJilO2YavkHKMgDigital technology has significantly transformed the way NGOs operate on a daily basis; from receiving funds, to raising awareness, managing volunteer programs, accessing wider audiences and generally providing an optimized workflow.

Over the last decade, every NGO has come face to face with the question “Do we digitally transform?” Whether or not the response was in the affirmative, this digital era is inevitable especially if you want to remain relevant.

Change can be challenging at first especially when it propels you into unfamiliar territory. Here are 5 ways your NGO can begin a relatively seamless digital adoption process:


1. Adopt a Mind-set for Change

Digital transformation requires buy-in from the top level management all the way down the hierarchal chain. Everyone must be provided with the necessary information required to guide this culture change in a way that does not generate fear or anxiety. Without an organizational culture change, this process will be more challenging to integrate and may even be unsuccessful.

2. Develop a Strategy

Digital transformation is an ongoing process that requires a clear and shared core strategy if your non-profit intends to successfully embark on this journey. Decide on the most beneficial areas to adopt first and identify the steps that could be adopted in the short, medium and long-term in order to achieve them. Be open to feedback from all stakeholders. Remember, there is no final end point as new technology will continuously affect the way we do things.


3. Invest in Your Strategy

This includes more than investing in technology (laptops, software etc.) but also in securing new skills and talents.  Educate everyone involved in the process including the end users who should know about the expected benefits stemming from any new changes. Staff who are trained to adequately and comfortably operate new systems or implement new methods feel more confident and this significantly reduces resistance allowing a smoother adoption process.

4. Collaborate

We cannot emphasize the benefits of collaboration enough. Find an organization similar to yours that has demonstrated and successfully continues to adapt and team up to learn from their process, mistakes included.


5. Keep Transforming

Don’t get complacent because technology isn’t. Keep learning, trying, and experimenting all with the focus of advancing your NGO’s mission. Remember, digital transformation does not happen overnight so be patient with yourself and your staff.

If you haven’t started, it’s time you unleash all the potential that the digital era has to offer and ensure that your NGO is not left behind or forgotten.

Instantly Improve Your NGO’s Photography


Snap, Snap, and post to social media, right? Wrong!

While this seems like the way things work with photography, there is actually a lot more thought that you should put into your NGO’s everyday photography practices.

If you have been following our blogs you know that storytelling plays an integral role in creating awareness, understanding and support for your NGO as photographs are part of the artillery used to visually illustrate your NGO’s narrative.

If you want to instantly improve your photography skills to maximize your storytelling capabilities check out these 8 recommendations:

Why THIS Photo?

Photographs are a tool. Don’t just post for posting sake because the context in which the photo is being shared affects the way it is received by your audience. Before sharing ask yourself why are you posting it? What emotion or call of action do you want to evoke? Once you know why and what you are trying to achieve, the associated caption, which is just as important as the photo, will be easier.

Consider the Background

I am sure you can think of a great photo that was ruined by something in the background. Be sure that the background doesn’t take away from the focus and the story or message you are trying to capture. Be on the lookout for photo-bombers, unsightly things like garbage bins or signs, (unless these things help to capture your NGO’s mission, like a beach clean-up).

Angle Helps

Switch things up by capturing your photo from various angles to gain a different perspective. This helps if you have to take the same type of photo several times like during an awards ceremony.


Avoid Redundant Photos

If the difference between two photos is a minor change in position, just chose the best one to share. That is of course, the minor difference is not a major contributor to your overall message, for example, a child’s face before and after receiving a surprise.

Capture the Candid

Nothing is wrong with posing for photos, however, photographs that capture the raw emotion, behind the scenes operations and candid moments generally generates more interest and provokes more emotion from your audience.

Never the Blurry Ones

The heading says it all. Once unintentionally blurry, it’s not worth it.


Caption Please

Captioning the album just isn’t enough. Visitors to your website, FB or Instagram need to know exactly who is doing exactly what. Provide succinct headings where needed and lengthy captions if you are using one photo to tell the entire story. This will help your audience understand and connect to your message.

Edit and Brand

Edit photos to ensure the aesthetics, sequencing, and even the framing results in the best quality images utilized online. You include your logo to help to boost your organization’s brand awareness (when photos are shared) and professionalism.

So go ahead and visually communicate your NGO’s story, personality, and uniqueness through the power of photography!

Do you have any photography tips? Share them with us in the comment section below!

7 Steps to Improve Your NGO’s Media Coverage

Tablet computer, smartphone and newspapers

Have you ever submitted a press release that did not receive coverage? Most non-profits share this similar complaint creating the perception that it is extremely challenging to receive media support.

However, your lack of coverage could be due to several issues found in the presentation of your release.

Here are seven ways to improve your press release to get your non-profit the publicity necessary to promote your cause:

  1. Make Sure it’s Newsworthy

Determine whether or not your release newsworthy by identifying if it reveals anything new that ultimately impacts others. Examples include the announcement of a new CEO, acquisitions, awards, national competition, providing a response to current public issues.


  1. Don’t over complicate things

The popular acronym K.I.S.S- Keep It Simple Silly says it all. Keep your media release as succinct as possible. Releases should be one-page minimum essentially highlighting the most significant details in short paragraphs, with a tight lead, and in easily understood language.

  1. Paint the Big Picture

You may be aware of the critical role your NGO plays but the reporter may not be, especially if your NGO is relatively new. To overcome this, paint the bigger picture using facts and some statistics to illustrate the impact that your NGO’s potential news can have on the wider community and the general public.

  1. Make Contact, Send Release, and Follow Up

Sometimes sending to generic newsroom email addresses can be like shooting in the dark. Things get lost in general inboxes or in the editorial shuffle. This is where a media directory like ours comes in handy.

To increase your chances of coverage, contact the appropriate reporter or editor firstly via phone to discuss your pending release and be sure to follow through with any advice received. Once sent, make contact again to ensure receipt and gauge the overall possibility of coverage.


  1. Be Accessible

Providing an office contact number and an email address may not enough. Reporters may need to verify details and conduct follow up interviews after hours. Therefore, it is wise to always include the cell phone number for someone authorized to address the issue at hand.

  1. Quotes Required

At least one newsworthy or ready-made quote from a reputable person from your organization such as the President should be included. This quote should summarize the importance of the call to action being made or the issue being faced by the organization.

  1. Use Your Digital Platforms

Digital media is instrumental in connecting with the media instantly. Be sure to employ your social media platforms through sharing on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Instagram, sliding in DM’s, and tagging media houses. A signal boost (retweet/share) can be everything!


In the end, while these steps won’t ultimately guarantee coverage, it will definitely improve your chances.

Do you have any tips that you would like to share? Leave a comment below and let us know what works for your non-profit!

Apply Now! NGO Excellence Award 2019


Named after famed Trinidad and Tobago entrepreneur and philanthropist, JB Fernandes, the Memorial Trust II that bears his name was established in 1997. Its mission is to support charitable causes in Trinidad & Tobago.

The JB Fernandes Memorial Trust II NGO Award for Excellence was established to recognize and reward NGOs who have excelled in their desire to improve their communities through various initiatives while also serving as a shining example of best practices in non-profit management.

Click here for details on the award and click here to download the application form. Deadline for applications ends April 30th, 2019. 

The winning organization and other noteworthy nominations (Honourable Mentions)  will be showcased and honored during an awards luncheon at the 2019 T&T NGO Professionals Seminar on May 23rd, 2019

Link Up on LinkedIn- An Essential Tool for Your NGO Growth


The professional social media platform LinkedIn encourages us to several things: ‘Manage your professional identity. Build and engage with your professional network’ and ‘Access knowledge, insights and opportunities.’ Despite these proposed opportunities, LinkedIn has become one of the most underutilized social media sites for NGO’s in Trinidad and Tobago.

Why? Maybe because its use and subsequent benefits have been gravely misunderstood. No matter the reason, the time has come for NGOs in T&T start capitalizing on these opportunities.

Here are our top six reasons your non-profit should sign up on LinkedIn RIGHT NOW:

Set Your NGO Apart

LinkedIn seeks to increase your online search visibility and ranking while simultaneously strengthening your brand identity among professionals and businesses.

Showcase your experience, programs, journey, and most importantly your vision and mission, to establish your NGO as a professional organization that can be trusted.



Leverage Your Networks   

Your audience is now composed of the movers and shakers, the decision makers, professionals with expertise who are willing to volunteer, millennials, influencers, and businesses that will support your cause and significantly advance your organization.

Building and engaging a network of likeminded professionals locally, regionally and internationally can be leveraged when seeking financial support, new board members, volunteers and even employees to join your team.  They just haven’t met you yet!

Go Unfiltered!

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn’s feed is not filtered! That means whatever your company posts will appear in your followers’ feeds, regardless of their interaction history with your content.


Access Useful Resources

LinkedIn provides support and resources for non-profits to continuously advance and improve their capacity. Get started at their non-profit learning centre: https://nonprofit.linkedin.com/

Add this to the numerous online courses on LinkedIn Learning developed for individuals and covers ‘just about every professional skill’. Check out these:  https://bit.ly/2YzKr5O


If your NGO shares articles, blogs etc… LinkedIn may soon be your favourite platform as it provides more options to share and submit content. Having been ranked the most effective channel for content distribution, even ahead of Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn delivers your content to current connections and followers.

An added bonus is that LinkedIn advertising allows you to target your distribution as well as industry influencers and any potential donors or clients.


Drive Leads

LinkedIn is perfect for lead generation through promoting thought leadership that can establish the foundation of collaborative efforts and even generating leads for funding opportunities such as grants.

While these benefits won’t happen overnight, it is still a worthwhile investment for your NGO to link up on LinkedIn today.  Are you ready to get started?

If your NGO is already active on LinkedIn we would love to learn about your experience in the comments below!

Is HR Needed to Manage Volunteers at NGOs? Part 3

Having gone through the process of identifying, interviewing and accepting a volunteer to your team (check out Part 2 of HR’s Role in Volunteer Recruitment here) the onboarding process begins.

Onboarding isn’t a generic welcome whereby you give a tour of the office with basic introductions and say “you sit here”. It is an intricate induction process that seeks to give volunteers a sense of purpose and belonging. It provides them with knowledge about the organization’s values and goals that will positively foster deeper trust, greater involvement more effectiveness and most importantly, increase volunteer retention rates.

A strong onboarding process can work to reduce the costs involved with recruitment, reduce negative effects on customer relations, and increase the time it takes for volunteers to become fully competent in their role.


Every organization’s onboarding process will look different. However, some critical steps will include:

Insight into Organizational Structure

Provide volunteers with formal documentation or brochures which outline the organization’s mission, vision, objectives, policies, procedures, and leadership. Understanding how and why your NGO works will give volunteers more confidence when they have greater context about their role in the organization.

Insight into Organizational Culture

This sheds light on how things are really done in the organization and any informal policies, strategies and routines. Once acclimatized, volunteers feel more included and will more likely return because they feel a stronger sense of inclusiveness.

Develop Interpersonal Connections

Staff and volunteers work hand in hand so they should seek to purposefully develop a good rapport that works to integrate volunteers while strengthening their interpersonal relationships. Mentoring, teambuilding exercises, and social interactions make volunteers feel welcomed and comfortable which in turn improves their performance.

Welcome Contributions

Fresh eyes can bring some new ideas to the table. Volunteers must know that their input is both welcomed and important. This increases their commitment to the cause as they know they too have a voice and are being heard and can be a change catalysis.

Provide Support

Provide volunteers with the knowledge, tools and training needed to conduct their roles to the best of their ability. This encourages a sense of security and confidence knowing that support is readily available.

Provide Motivation

Motivate volunteers to keep coming back via intrinsic and extrinsic rewards systems. Volunteer of the month, annual awards and even social media shout outs can make volunteers feel appreciated.

A well-developed and carefully managed volunteer onboarding process will make any volunteer program thrive. What does your process involve? Share your experience with us in the comment section below.

Is HR Needed to Manage Volunteers at NGOs? Part 2

The financial constraints that civil society organizations face restrict their capacity to hire full-time employees. This has resulted in a heavy dependence on volunteers to fulfill the daily needs of these organizations.

In part one of this discussion, we debunked the myth that NGO’s are too small to have a Human Resource Manager (check out Part 1 here) and established that it is indeed imperative for volunteers to be carefully managed by HR, just like paid employees.

This is where Human Resource Volunteer Management should be introduced to ensure the proficient functioning of the organization. This process encompasses various strategies that seek to streamline volunteers through the development of volunteer programs. These programs include volunteer acquisition and screening, volunteer on-boarding, volunteer training and development, volunteer management and dismissal.


Volunteer Acquisition and Screening

To get the most out of volunteers it is critical that they are screened to guarantee that there is alignment with your NGO’s mission and their motives to volunteer. This is a crucial step, especially for NGO’s that deal with vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly.

Here are a few strategies that should be implemented in the volunteer recruitment process:

  • Clearly identify the roles and duties expected when making a volunteer call. This is no different from a job vacancy so provide as many details as possible so only those who are seriously interested, and passionate, will reach out.
  • Conduct a formal interview that includes completing an application form. This allows you to collect a considerable amount of information about a potential volunteer and ensures that they are qualified to adequately perform the duties assigned.
  • Yes, while experience may not always be necessary for some tasks, it should be required for those given major responsibilities and those who deal with managing confidential information or finances. For everything else, a genuine passion and willingness to assist is invaluable.


  • A police certificate of good character can reinforce their trustworthiness amongst vulnerable groups and again with those dealing with finances.
  • A letter of recommendation helps to give some context into a volunteers’ work ethic and general characteristics. An alternative to this is asking for two character references who can vouch for any required character traits or qualifications and experience noted.
  • A confidentiality agreement should be utilized in order to legally safeguard any private information about the organization, its members and those involved in any programs.
  • Finally, it is not unorthodox for Community-Based Organisations to identify the number of hours required from a volunteer over a period of a week or even a month. Volunteering is a serious commitment so although it is defined as pledging of free time and service, volunteers should be required to be consistent.

Generally, conducting this in-depth process should provide a strong volunteer base for your non-profit to produce a strong team. In part 3 we will look at the process of volunteer on-boarding.

We are interested in learning about how your NGO recruits volunteers? Share your process or recommendations in the comment section below.


Is HR Needed to Manage Volunteers at NGOs? Part 1

The popular quote “teamwork makes the dream work” emphasizes the importance of having a well-oiled group work together in order to achieve set goals. Similarly to other sectors such as business and governmental; when it comes to civil society organizations, effective human resource management ensures the team is well managed, motivated and successful.


There exists a common view that NGOs are usually too small of an organization to have a Human Resource Manager or even an HR Officer. However, according to Peter F. Drucker in his book Managing the Non-Profit Organization “An effective non-profit manager must try to get more out of the people he or she has”. So despite the size of an NGO, HR should actually be a top priority for civil society groups.

Employee management remains a key function of HR. They serve to attract, hire, develop and retain qualified and motivated employees for the organization. Therefore, the role of HR in civil society organizations should never be understated as NGOs are also founded on the biggest resource- the human resource.

HR governance involves more than just hiring and firing but involves the development of the organization’s structure by which strategies, policies, procedures and operations are implemented to maximize effectiveness and to ensure sustainable growth.

However, not only does HR manage employees of the organization but they also positively contribute to the recruitment and well-being of another major type of human resource for NGOs- volunteers!


Because they are not legally employees, managing volunteers can prove to be challenging, that is, if there is no aspect of HRM policies involved. It is the human resource manager’s responsibility to establish stringent policies to manage volunteer engagement in civil society organizations as well as maintaining cost-effective volunteer programs.

How is this done? What strategies have to be implemented? Keep posted as we delve into HR and volunteer management in our upcoming blogs.

We would love to hear from you on this topic:

How does your NGO manage its human resources?

Does your NGO have a HR Manager or is this function being adopted by the manager?

What questions would you like addressed when it comes to HR and volunteer engagement?

Four Online Tips for NGO’s This Christmas

This is the season where most NGO’s make a big chunk of their budget via Christmas campaigns, fundraisers and events. While the office may be buzzing with the cheer of the season it is important that your online presence continues to reflect just that.

Streamlining your digital platforms is a great way to continue to reach and engage your target audience while maintaining transparency and stakeholder relationships.

Here are four ways to reflect your Christmas campaign online:


Look the Part

If you have decorated your office your online platforms should be too! Change your cover photos, profile pictures etc.… to show that you are celebrating!

If you are having events and fundraisers that should be highlighted too. Pin flyers and event pages to the top of your page and be sure to tag your team members. This will ensure that anyone who visits your website or social media platforms are instantly informed of your initiatives.


Share Your Campaign Journey

NGO’s host events, fundraisers and more in order to achieve a specific goal. (All goals must be S.M.A.R.T.). This may be to get 100 toy donations for 50 boys and 50 girls, to raise $50,000 for an education initiative or simply just to pay off outstanding debt by December 20th. If your specific goal is isn’t shared how can your audience share in the journey or celebrate your success with you?

Be sure to share not just your campaign goals and objectives but the process and progress. This can be conducted through online countdowns, photos, and videos to keep your stakeholders involved from start to end. This method also creates and maintains a connection between donor and beneficiary or donor and your non-profit. You can even encourage donors to share a picture of themselves contributing to encourage others to do the same.


Christmas Deals

Everyone is looking for a great deal at Christmas and that includes your audience. If your non-profit offers a product or a service now will be a great time to offer a season filled special. Host a social media giveaway or an online challenge for a discount. A change in price or a holiday-themed giveaway may be all the incentive needed this holiday but they need to see this all online!


It’s Christmas; Tell a Story

Stories are a great way to really demonstrate the work your NGO does. Kindly ask the people you assist to share a brief story via post or video highlighting the effect your NGO has had on their life or within the community. This link can be shared via email, social media and your website to emphasize the kind of impact that donors can have when they contribute to your non-profit this holiday season.

Does your NGO employ different online strategies during the holiday season? Share them in the comment section below.