CHEER – Working with other international NGOs in consortium

Working in a NGO consortium

The goal of SiB V Shanxi Project is to demonstrate how the quality of life and learning opportunities for Shanxi’s children can be improved through health promotion, education and reducing the burden of visual and other disabilities. Orbis North Asia is the lead organization with technical and financial support from 3 other NGOs (Brien Holden Vision Institute (BHVI), Helen Keller International (HKI) and Perkins School for the Blind).

Each consortium partner contributes differently and adds value to the project:

·  ORBIS: Plays a role of glue among consortium partners and local backbone partners; Supports clinical trainings to eye care teams from primary to tertiary levels

·  BHVI: Supports optical and low vision training and service

·  HKI: Supports screening (school- and community based) and referral

·  Perkins: Supports education, visual function assessment to visually disabled children

Challenges of working with 3 INGOs:

·  Different ways of project management and different organizational culture

·  Difference in culture, language, time zone

·  No local office/project person

·  Staff turnover of NGO

·  Sometimes inefficiency due to heavy administration work

·  Communication

Strength:

·  Best collective value added:

·  Different skills and technics

·  Collective wisdoms for problem solving

·  Complementary function during planning, implementing, and monitoring the project

·  The consortium partners have common agenda and monitoring system in this project.

·  Strong local backbone partner plays a critical role in coordinating and collaborating local sub-partners.

·  Experience gained and lessons learned can be applied to work with more multiple funding partners in the future.

Lessons learned:

·  Deep assessment of partners so as to understand their culture and project management before the project planning

·  Involve the project staff of all consortium organization during the planning stage

·  Require each partner for a clear activity-based budget during the planning stage

·  Discuss and clearly confirm responsibilities of each consortium partner (against activities and budget) during planning

·  Communication at regular intervals (e.g. monthly Skype conference, quarterly physical meeting, and annual review meeting) and on request; simple communication channel –the lead organization acts as a coordinator among INGOs, and 1 local backbone partner as a coordinator among local partners

Xu Yang