Give background what lead up to this? How did you prepare to present/ teach this to others?
I had the privilege to be exposed to Charles Boelen one of the social accountability guru’s in the mid-nineties when I was the South African Health fellow attached in Geneva and he was a lone voice advocating for rethinking medical education . His views changed how I looked at medical education and stuck in my mind when I went back to South Africa and started a private institution of higher education the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) (www.foundation.co.za). The first few years we were a traditional educational institution focusing mostly on in service training and professional development of health professionals and managers. However in 2004 South Africa was facing a public health crisis around HIV/AIDS with an AIDS denialist President and a sycophantic Minister of Health blocking access to lifesaving AIDS treatment for the majority of our population who are dependent on public sector health care. At this point, we realized that just training up health care professionals to treat AIDS was not enough; we had to step out of the ivory tower and use our skills and resources to help deliver services. This prompted us to compete for donor funding that allowed us to start more than 70 AIDS clinics that over the next 5 years helped 250,000 people living with HIV to access AIDS treatment. Since then we have not looked back , we now have numerous projects system strengthening projects that work on such issues such as gender based violence, strengthening the public health care system, providing 60, 000 HIV tests annually through community based HIV testing programs to name a few , in recent years our system strengthening projects have expanded beyond health care to include a reading support project that improves the competency of teachers at 3500 schools to teach literacy in African home languages and English as a first additional language. I believe we have now fully embraced the expanded concept of social accountability as described by Charles in 2012.
“Attempts have been made to apply the concept primarily to educational reform initiatives with limited concern towards transforming an entire institution to commit and assess its education, research and service delivery missions to better meet priority health needs in society for an efficient, equitable an sustainable health system”. – Charles Boelen 2012
How have you successfully raised funds? Give some points about – fostering social accountability through implementing donor funded projects?
Fundraising is now an integral part of the work of all the senior managers in FPD, we actively develop the competency of selected managers, those are good writers, in proposal writing through a 12 month proposal writing fellowship, they are supported by a proposal support unit that continuously scan the environment for calls for proposals. We now annually submit around 200 proposals and have progressively increased our success rate to above 50%. To date we have raised in excess of US$ 350 million from more than 200 donors and funders. We have reinterpreted the three scholarships of higher education to entrench social accountability across all or work, teaching and learning is interpreted as “developing people” and most of our training programs are aimed at improving the ability of the health workforce to respond to priority health needs in our society. Research is interpreted as “innovation” all our research is geared towards finding innovative solutions to priority health needs ranging from traditional research to introducing innovative technology solutions and community engagement is interpreted as “systems strengthening”
What type of projects inculcates a social accountable culture in an academic institution?
Basically any project that addresses priority health needs will support developing a service ethos in an academic institution. The trick is to fully appreciate the incredible resources that academic institutions have to offer in addressing health needs in their societies.
Will you share a few skills for writing successful proposals and other fundraising tools?
Like all skills you have to put the time in to develop them so perhaps the easiest is to give a few tips
- Proposal writing has become professionalized – you need dedicated staff who can identify opportunities and develop relationships with prospective donors – researching prospective funders is a full time job
- Proposal writing has to be led by senior staff members who have the authority to commit the organizations resources – if they have the ability to write the actual proposal so much the better
- Before you write a proposal you need to have a good brain storming session , the objective is to come up with innovations that will differentiate you from your competitors – innovation challenges has become a major trend amongst donors
- Be ambitious it is easier to raise a million dollars than a hundred thousand
- People give money to people – building relations is key to successful fund raising
- You have to believe in what you are writing proposals on – if you do not believe in the “cause ” do not write the proposal – not just you but your institution have to be fully committed to making a difference
- Pay attention to details, the guidelines the donor has in their request for proposals, i.e. page count, deadlines, evaluation criteria etc.
- Review before submitting, do you have a logically unfolding proposal that backs up an innovative strategy with a logical technical approach, work plan, M& E plan and budget – use critical readers – if it makes sense to them it will make sense to the donor