The workshop, Harnessing the Power of Support Networks, focussed on a collaborative approach between NGOs, their donors and their beneficiaries. IRT is currently exploring the Participatory Learning and Action (PLA) approach which not only in itself revolves around collaborating with the local communities where our projects are based, we also need to find a way to communicate with our existing donors why this approach is going to be more affective than old fashioned 'top down' development approaches.
Together with participants from other charities, we explored Paul Skinner (founder of Pimp My Cause)'s five part creative framework to think about about ways of getting others involved with our organisations in new and exciting ways.
What we learned: IRT has a very loyal network of supporters. Many of them have been with us through thick and thin ever since the beginning, over 20 years ago. So we do not want those supporters to feel that by embracing the PLA approach we are suddenly becoming a completely different charity! We still wish to remain the same old IRT: no nonsense, no money wasted on overheads and flashy-ness. So what we found is that the 'shared enthusiam' (the first step of Paul's framework) will help us with this. In the end our supporters, our local partners, the participants/beneficiaries and us in the office all want to help and support the empowerment of displaced communities. By focussing on this we are sure that everyone involved with IRT will come to share our enthusiasm for PLA as well. Our next appeal will be about PLA in Uganda, so time will tell!
Pimp My Cause has just written on the Guardian Sustainable Business blog for the Join Our Core competition for which they are currently one of 25 semi-finalist. We wish them all the luck and hope they win!