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The Final Report

This report focuses on the impact of the Dfid funded EXCEL project which ran from Oct 2006 until Oct 2009 when a fourth year was funded. In October 2010 a 6 month no cost extension was granted and project closure was March 1st 2011.


Summary EXCEL is about enabling Civil Society Organisations in their work in various ways; build the capacity of staff to enable them to deliver on the mission and mandate of the organisations; strengthen organisations in terms of their governance, human and financial resources to become viable entities and to be able to raise funds to sustain their projects. Excel has registered significant progress with organisations in these and many other areas during the past five years. It is a project that will leave behind indelible marks of change in one way or another for many years to come.

March 2011


Introduction to EXCEL The Overall Objective of EXCEL Enhance the capacities and network a core group of competent and determined Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in The Gambia, so that: 1) they could better serve their missions of poverty alleviation through a structured sectoral approach, within the framework of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper of the Gambian Government and 2) policies and programmes for sustainable livelihoods are initiated from within the communities, in close collaboration with local government authorities. The Specific Objectives were: 1. To strengthen organisational governance and management, vision, mission and values of the organisations, and enhancing connectivity of civil society to local government and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) frameworks, in order to advocate and work for the individuals, groups and structures they represent. 2. To strengthen financial, human resource, office management, project management, fundraising, advocacy (policy-influencing) and media capacities of project partners. 3. To improve the self-sustainability of local CSOs, including The Association of Non Government Organisations (TANGO), on a not-or-profit basis, through improved donor liaison capacity (incorporating an up to date internal & external donor mapping database), project development and fundraising skills, and to create synergies with existing private and public sector local development programmes to facilitate the income generating activities and long-term financial sustainability of the local CSOs. 4. To network core groups of local CSOs that operate in similar sectors, linking their outputs to those of the PRSP strategy (e.g. women in development, agriculture, education, Conflict resolution, Health/HIV etc.) 5. To ensure that TANGO, as an implementing partner, and all its members, benefit from the project approach and methods through implementing professional step-down training to all CSO members To raise the awareness of and to enable the sectoraly networked groups to actively engage in policy dialogue and advocacy (working with and through ProPAG) with both national and international organisations, local government authorities and donors 4


Transformation Partnership agreements between CU partners and TANGO EXCEL identified that some organisations working with CU had project agreements and some partners had memorandum of under-





EXCEL project TARUD had almost everyone in the community as a member which caused huge problems. Through EXCEL the membership was streamlined.

standings. For consistency across partners it was agreed that a

new partnership

agreement be developed. In 2010 the new partnership agreement was launched and signed by FFHC, MMAP, SJFF, TARUD, NATC,AVISU,WASDA,NBAG, and TANGO

AVISU through the EXCEL project transformed from a service delivery organisation to a

Membership based organisation


In the preceding 10 years the boards of NBAG,



were either not pro-active or had over-stayed their

terms of office. NBAG‘s board had not met in over 5 years and with a constitution that was difficult to apply it was in stasis. Through the work of the EXCEL project they met and restructured the entire organisation nationwide, which led to the

election of a new

board with a new mandate. MMAP, SJFF, NBAG,FFHC, AVISU,WASDA,NATC, TARUD and TANGO developed new board manuals Boards were autocratic and secretive, EXCEL has encouraged dialogue which brought about change to the point that organisations wanted to transform their own structures. 6

Constitutions 6 CU partner organisations NBAG, FFHC, WASDA, AVISU, NATC and reviewed and revised their constitution and other governance documents (financial procedure manuals) and staff handbooks. TARUD

EXCEL also supported the review and development of constitutions through TANGO with AFET, Hope for Children, Wonder Years, 4H The Gambia, Through the support of EXCEL 8 organisation who were in direct partnership with Concern Universal held Annual General Meetings.

What effect has having a constitution had on the organisation?

Transparency AGM important decisions were made within the organisation –ensuring Accountability

Through the


cohesion between board, management and members through working together. 7

Staff knowing more about the various functions within the organisation The people were given

voices and they said this is how we want our

organisation .to be. It brought

clarity to the organisations

FFHC, WASDA and NATC communities shaped the design of their organisation through their

involvement in the development of the constitution. Owner-

ship of the organisation became very solid. How partners have used their constitutions Partners have sent their constitutions to donors and used it to say

“this is who we are� AVISU and WONDER YEARS CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE (WYCE) sent it to their main donors (Village Aid UK) and they were delighted with what they saw. They have shared their constitutions with other organisations, and it has built confidence in AVISU. When writing proposals organisations that benefitted from the support of EXCEL now list their documentation

Strategic Plans WASDA, AVISU, NATC, FFHC, TARUD, MMAP and NBAG have Strategic plans that serve as guidance for fund raising.



Partners shared the donor database

Organisations invited each other to their meetings Organisations asked the directors of other partner organisations to Chair at their AGM,s etc. The Finance Officer at one partner travelled to other partners to support their finance systems

Partners from each regional area attended and supported other partners at their Regional Forums WASDA, NATC, FFHC and AVISU are recognized as taking a greater role in coordinating the activities of Technical Advisory Committees in their respective regions. WASDA and NATC conducted

regional open day forums that brought development players and beneficiaries together to learn about what each of these organisations were doing. NATC, FFHC, WASDA and AVISU organized development regional forums that enabled development workers to show case what they are

doing and enabled beneficiaries to ask questions to clear misconceptions or doubts. WASDA, NATC, FFHC and AVISU conducted advocacy sensitization meetings with district authorities to promote the activities of the organisations.


TANGO Roll –out to Members TANGO used expertise available within the membership to role out the Organisational Self Assessments and capacity building activities to more of its members.

The list below comprises of



members that

benefitted from different

packages for example the Pre-assessments: This was the stage before self

assessment exercises take place. The intention was to find out whether it was appropriate to conduct OSAs or not. Urgent


issues that should be addressed first

before the OSA took place were then identified. OSAs – this exercise identified the strengths and weaknesses of any organisation. The exercise determined what plans needed to be in place to strengthen the organisations.

Support WHEEL: There are

other activities that are associated with the wheel

such as Financial Management, Project Cycle Management, Governance, HRM, etc. Some members have also benefitted from some of these modules. What is presented below is a combined list of TANGO members who in one way or another from






17. YWCA




19. HfC –G

5. 4H – G







23. Boka Loho



10. FFHC



26. NAFA

12. GAPD 13. GAFNA 14. NAWFA 15. FAWEGAM 10

Financial Management and Reporting Capacity building:

EXCEL project a dedicated finance officoaching, monitoring and cer roved from partner to partner, mentoring each partner. With each, internationally recognised finance systems (Quickbooks etc) were put in place. A reporting format During the

was developed and finance staff trained on how to use it. Monthly visits from the finance officer allowed problems to be identified and addressed quickly. The finance systems developed were more robust and the system was liked by the partners and led to fewer complaints from the CU finance office and fewer problems with audits.

*MMAP and SJFF were audited through their respective Church structures. Each partner now understands the need for, and plans a core


and an

annual budget. Partners now send financial reports via email.

Financial Management and Reporting has been strengthened through; •

Training of Accountants and Book keepers


Provision of IT equipment


Project Management All partners received training on Human

Resource Management Each partner now has staff in place for designated roles Each partner reviewed their organogram which led restructuring in some organisations

∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

Appraisal systems have been put in place in WASDA, NATC, FFHC and AVISU

Computerised systems are now in place with each partner ∗

All partners now have internet


access and use email to communicate to CU-

Intangible Outcomes 10 partner staff were trained on puppet making and Puppet shows highlighting risky behaviours were aired in vulnerable border and fishing communities as well as in schools for students 10 years and upwards. Each of the 7 partner organisations also received training on how to

develop an organisational policy for HIV and Gender.

Capitalisation of EXCEL The value of the EXCEL methodology was well recognised by partners and by CU project staff engaged in EXCEL. However in 2010 requests from organisations outside of the project were made and Kuntaur Area Council and St Johns Children for Children Organisational followed the EXCEL organisational self assessment methodology and put in place Organisational Development Plans.

Fund Raising All partners received training on proposal writing and received support from senior CU staff in putting together proposals for local grants. Partners raised concerns about their inability to attract external funding of substance. Support was given to organise the necessary documentation required as well as ensuring adequate finance systems were in place and that audits were conducted by recognised institutions. In 2010, 5 partners wrote successful proposals for the EU NSA call for proposals. In addition NATC, FFHC and AVISU have received substantial external funding. See graphs on following page.► 12

SJFF External funding 2007-11

NATC external funding 2007-11

WASDA external 2007-11

MMAP external funding 2007-11

AVISU external funding 2007-11

FFHC external Funding 2007-11

NBAG external funding 2007-11

TARUD external funding 2007-11

TANGO External Funding 2007-2011


EXCEL EVALUATIONS With the project start date of EXCEL coming at the end of 2006 it was February

2008 when

an evaluation of activities in 2007 was undertaken.

Each partner organisation did a self assessment through bench marking its ODP in terms of progress made on activities . Presentations were made by each partner on its ODP and presented to plenary. Partners paired off and exchanged ODP documents for peer critiquing and these were again brought back in plenary for a final review process. Recommendations made for each partner on the way forward were made taking into account gaps and areas where improvement was needed. For 2008 activity evaluations were conducted in March 2009. CU PMs were identified and selected to lead on the evaluation; one PM per organisation. In the case of TANGO an external consultant was contracted to do the evaluation. Partner evaluation reports were compiled and sent to CU EXCEL partners for dissemination and sharing. The 2009 Activity evaluations were conducted in March/ April/ May 2010 and was a two pronged approach using conventional evaluation methods and the People First Impact Tool (P-FIT,) a consultant was hired and a team of P-FIT facilitators recruited and trained.

Participatory discussions with communities, national board members and beneficiary groups on the “Most Significant Change� in TOR developed using ODPs.

terms of qualitative changes and impact were undertaken. The two reporting styles were consolidated into one report that was shared with all partners including Dfid.. In

March 2011an external consultant will conduct a desk review and two consultants

will visit partners and using the P-FIT approach ask partners what changes they have witnessed within their organisation in the last five years. Once completed the two approaches will be merged and shared with partners and Dfid.

The P-Fit team discussing impact for the 2010 EXCEL Report 14

Limitations Governance SJFF began developing stronger governance tools but this was halted because the Catholic Mission was cautious about allowing SJFF to become an independent entity having learnt lessons from CARITAS.

Implementation TANGO as an implementing partner could have done more in terms of rolling out EXCEL to its members and in developing its website.

Annual General Meetings Initial over dependence of partners to fund their Annual General Meetings. This could have been funded internally especially with partners that are membership based.

Resources More resources needed to support implementation of ODPs at organisation level.

Lessons learnt Dissemination of the project ideology and methods could have been more widely felt than was the case with more implementing partners. Under TANGO the roll out was marred by the lack of human resource capacity and constraints to the extent that they resorted to hiring strong member NGOs to take charge of certain activities rolling them out to other members. Although minimal use of financial

resources with partners for the implementation of the EXCEL approach is seen as strength , the implementation of organisational development plans could have been more robustly supported financially than was the case. Selection of partners should have been more carefully done. Some organisations found it difficult to effectively participate in EXCEL because of governance and structural issues. Good examples are the faith based organisations. 15

Conclusions on EXCEL DFID funded EXCEL project for the past five years it has definitely made significant and far reaching contributions in strengthening and building the capacity of civil society actors particularly the NGO sector. Before EXCEL most of the partners were not

To many who took part in the implementation of the

able to carry out some major activities on their own such as developing their own strategic plans, mobilize financial resources in significant amounts through Proposal Writing or even network effectively amongst themselves giving peer support in mentoring and

all of these activities are common place among and between organisations. The project (EXCEL) has high multiplying effects and has trickled down to smaller organisations through the TANGO roll out of the

coaching. Today

methodology and approach to members.

Way Forward institutionalised especially with CU partner organisations and other members of TANGO. On this premise it can and will surely be sustained.


EXCEL approach

and methodology is now

The ideas in terms of tools,

methods and approach will continue to be shared and utilised. Efforts to continue EXCEL type work is on-going. Attempts have been made and will continue to be made in trying to raise funds to replicate EXCEL perhaps targeting different cadre for example community based organisations that are even closer or part of the grassroots.

Overwhelmingly EXCEL

has been hailed as a great success and could regis-

ter even bigger success and impact if there was to be continuity in funding.


Report on the the Dfid funded EXCEL project 2006-2009  

This report is about enabling civil society organisations in their work in various ways, to build the capacity of staffs to enable them deli...

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