Hivos is an international organisation that seeks new solutions to persistent global issues. Its primary focus is achieving structural change by fighting against discrimination, inequality, abuse of power and the sustainable use of the planet’s resources. It cooperates with various partners across four continents.
Similar to other international non-governmental organisations, Hivos has been challenged with the substantial decrease of Dutch government funding to implement their projects worldwide. To ensure the continuity of the organisation’s work and secure its financial sustainability, staff need to master solid proposal writing competences for the effective acquisition of funding from a variety of donors.
The trainings took place in the regional offices of Bolivia, Costa Rica, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Indonesia, and were co-facilitated by local trainers associated to Hivos. The training set-up consisted of two separate two-day training sessions with a homework assignment in between. MDF Training & Consultancy proposed this formula to allow participants to work on their (current) proposals and to provide them with a deeper understanding of the new writing principles and feedback before the start of the second session. The trainers provided feedback on actual proposals and presented proposal writing issues raised by individual regional offices to Hivos Head Office.
A total of seven training courses took place, resulting in 120 Hivos staff trained over a one year period.
The trainings tackled three main issues:
- Theory of Change - Hivos uses Theory of Change as its main programme planning, monitoring and evaluation methodology, in order to capture the complexity of long-term change. The training course therefore introduced the essentials of the methodology, following the session as it was co-created with Hivos' ToC expert, and guided the participants through the main steps.
- Matching donor needs - Successful proposals demonstrate understanding of funder needs. Participants were introduced to the context donors operate in and the analysis and matching of specific donor needs with Hivos proposal ideas. They analysed and matched specific donor needs with Hivos proposal ideas and stepped into the donor's shoes by evaluating an existing (rejected) Hivos proposal and assessing their own work by the end of the course.
- Attractive writing skills - All participants worked on actual proposals that they were preparing to submit to funders. They structured their proposals using a specific pyramid diagramming tool. Trainers gave feedback on the ‘proposal maps’ before they continued working on their proposals by applying good paragraph writing principles and attractive writing style.
The training resulted in the following:
- Hivos staff able to apply the Theory of Change for their existing programmes and understanding applicability of the methodology for future programmes;
- Participants submitting proposals to open Calls for Proposals applying the new writing criteria;
- Hivos staff referring to an organisation-wide standard writing process, supported by business developers at Head Office;
- Hivos staff able to use the newly established budgeting principles and formats.