At the end of June, as part of the Innovative Uzbekistan project, a Summer School for non-profit non-governmental organizations was held. In the first two days, the program included a practice-oriented training on writing project proposals for international grants. The main coach of the block was Olga Stuzhinskaya from Brussels (Belgium), assisted by the international coach, head of ODB Brussels Alyona Lis.
The summer school was held as part of "Innovative Uzbekistan" project, implemented by ODB Brussels (Belgium) in partnership with Eco Forum of Uzbekistan (Uzbekistan), the New Diplomacy (Czech Republic) with funding from the European Union.
Belgian trainer Olga Stuzhinskaya
Non-governmental non-profit organizations (NGOs) want to help people and solve socially important problems. But since such organizations are not engaged in commercial activities, the funds for the implementation of their plans must be sought from other sources. There are various international grant programs for this. In order to receive a financial grant for the implementation of your project, you need to convince the grantor, who acts on behalf of taxpayers, that the proposed idea deserves support and can really change the life of the region and people for the better. The participants of the Summer School learned together with the trainer Olga Stuzhinskaya how to do this by filling out forms and matrix.
Olga organized the work of two days within this block in such a way that mini-teams could develop their idea and turn it into a project using a logical framework approach. The universal matrix was filled in such a way that with the invention of a new idea for solving the problem, the initial data could be easily replaced.
After getting to know each other and informal communication on the day of the gathering, the trainer and participants discussed their vision of the project and what everyone understands under the words “working on the project”. Many noted that the project is necessarily written to solve a problem, it has its own target group, goals and objectives, is limited by time and budgetary frameworks, and is aimed at development.
According to the classical theory of project management, the main characteristics of the project are as follows. The project is aimed at:
- Solution of some particular problem;
- Target group;
- Has a time frame - cannot be infinite;
- Provides funding and a planned budget (the organization can't do whatever it wants)
- Stands out in uniqueness and originality.
Also, when describing projects, they discussed quantitative and qualitative indicators: what they are and how to calculate them. So, quantitative indicators are something that can be calculated. For example, how many people attended the training, how many facilities were built, etc. Qualitative indicators show whether it was possible to achieve the set goals and objectives or not. For example, if the goal was to change the mentality, then the qualitative indicator should show whether people's attitudes have changed. That is, project indicators are performance indicators that you need to focus on. According to the indicators, it is possible to say whether the project was successful or not, to assess whether the goal has been achieved.
“In training, of course, we strive for the ideal,” says Olga, “but life makes its own adjustments. A well-planned project answers the following questions. Why is it necessary to deal with this problem? What are you going to do in the project, it is necessary to formulate goals and objectives, how partners are involved in the implementation of ideas and plans. It is necessary to allocate responsibilities, evaluate resources, human and financial, and set deadlines.”
Grant application forms can be different, but it is important to understand the logic of how to write a project in order to get it approved. Olga suggested that the participants of the Summer School master the logical-structured approach often used by European foundations. During the two days of the seminar, the participants, divided into teams, filled in the main matrix. It will be possible to insert a project application and use it in the future.
“Over the years, project applications have become more and more complex,” Olga said. Resources are scarcer, and competition among NGOs is growing. Applications are being made more complex to increase transparency for taxpayers to see exactly where the allocated money is going. Today, the more you know about how to write proposals better, what their different parts are about, the better for you. You will spend less time on applications, but better understand what donors want. Because now it often happens that an organization opens a form and does not understand what it is about, there is too much incomprehensible terminology. Our task for these days is to figure out how to write better.”
Not only to listen, but also to hear: all people are different
On the eve of the first full day of the training, the participants were given the task to think over a topic they would like to work on during the Summer School. Each team presented their idea and wrote the project based on it. Among the problems voiced, one can single out issues with water supply. According to the UN, by 2030 Uzbekistan will face a serious shortage of water for the population and the needs of agriculture. They also talked about the creation of psychological support centers, the need to clean the air in cities, the formation of environmental thinking among the younger generation.
The tower drawing exercise turned out to be relaxed and fun. The participants received one task, but everyone's towers turned out to be different, as well as their description. This exercise, light in form, had a very serious intention: in practice, to show how differently people perceive the same information and interpret it.
It is important to take this point into account when writing a project application. Ultimately, we should try to write a project proposal that will be understandable to both partners and donors. A common mistake, especially in highly specialized areas, is the use of special vocabulary. It may not be at all clear to those who read the applications. Therefore, you need to learn to write simply and as clearly as possible.
A problem tree from which a solution tree grows
Further, during the trainings, the teams drew a tree of problems, which made it possible to draw up the very logical and structured approach. It was necessary to highlight one central problem in their topic, which the teams chose to work on, and then look at where it goes back and what problems and sub-problems it develops in the “crown”.
Olga gave an example from ecology, when the central problem was that the quality of water in the river does not meet sanitary and environmental standards. Why is this happening? Because a large amount of waste is dumped into the river, the population and business are not connected to the network sewerage, and the population does not realize the danger of dumping waste into the river. From these three root problems, the central one grows: the quality of the water in the river does not meet the standards. It is necessary to ensure that there is such a logical chain from the bottom up.
Further questions arise, why do people dump a large amount of waste into the river? For example, because there is no effective control system. Why is the population not aware of the danger of such behavior? Because there are no awareness programs. The problem tree is not only a tool for a logical-framework approach to the analysis of a problem, but it is also important for the subsequent creation of a solution tree.
After a thorough study of the selected problem, drawing up trees and filling in the project matrix, the participants of the Summer School will already be able to apply the developed strategies in practice. This is a huge plus of the Innovative Uzbekistan project, because all the trainers try to make the seminars as practical as possible.
Text: Valeria Nikolaychik
Photo: Alyona Lis
This material has been prepared within the framework of the project "Innovative Uzbekistan" implemented by ODB Brussels (Belgium) in partnership with Eco Forum of Uzbekistan (Uzbekistan), the New Diplomacy (Czech Republic) funded by the European Union.
|The content is solely the responsibility of ODB Brussels and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.|