Thursday, 21 June 2007

Exchange days for NGDO platforms in Brussels

Report provided by Gyorgyi Blaho, Hungarian NGDO platform HAND, and Ilze Millere, Latvian NGDO platform LAPAS

The "Exchange days for NGDO Platforms" were organised by Coordination SUD, Coprogram and ACODEV (French and Belgian Platforms) and co-organised by CONCORD on the 26th and 27th April 2007 in Brussels.

The main goal of the seminar was to discover and discuss the everyday challenges of NGDO platforms, like
- how to identify the needs and expectations of platform members,
- how to identify competencies within the membership,
- how to organise strategic planning and
- how to measure or evaluate the satisfaction of the members.

Gyorgyi Blaho from the Hungarian NGDO platform HAND on her impressions from the seminar:

Both the structure (input from platform secretariats and workshops) and the content (first-hand experiences from both old and new EU member states’ platforms) were of high level quality. The presentations, which came directly from platform coordinators guaranteed the first-hand experiences about what it means in reality to be in the middle of the communication flow between the board, the members and the international partners.

We learned a lot about how to manage information, the most effective ways to find the best data provider and the most relevant data-user. It was also useful to realise that the national level capacity building problems are oftentimes just parallel with other platforms’ problems in a broader context. As the contributors’ presentations were excellent and the target group (audience) was well selected, the seminar provided possibility to see deeper in the national level problems of development platform’s operation.

At the end of the first day (26th April evening), the participants had the possibility to visit "Carrefours du monde" - interactive global educational exhibitions of Oxfam Solidarité ( These exhibitions introduced to the culture and everyday life of people living in Bolivia and South-Africa, and gave an overview about our globalized world, named with an imaginary name: Mondiapolis. The exhibitions gave a good picture of creative methods which can be used to sensitize children about global issues.

The second exchange day (27th April) was devoted to the issues of strategic planning and member satisfaction in the platforms. Of course, not all platforms have had the resources to get to the process of strategic planning; still, long-term thinking is what all platforms strive for. Evaluating member satisfaction was similarly discussed very lively among the participants. Besides commenting possible evaluation indicators and methods, points from the previous day's discussion on implicit and explicit members’ expectations were brought up.

Accoding to Ilze Millere from the Latvian NGDO platform LAPAS, a useful comparison was that of CONCORD being a kind of platform itself. Ilze: Reflections on the experience of CONCORD membership probably made it easier for the participants to put themselves in their members’ shoes – not only regarding communication but also in the issue of active involvement.

As Hans Zomer from DOCHAS (Ireland) put it: Want members to be engaged? Be engaged with the members!

In the closing session every participant had to say one learning point he/she would bring home from the Exchange days – and the conclusions never repeated, ranging from “good to know I am not alone with the problems and challenges” and resolutions to visit all platform members personally to improve communication and strengthen the feeling of belonging to conclusions like “information (or just sending emails) is not communication” and many more, including the wish to make Exchange days a regular event in the future.

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