TISS – UNICEF NGO Workshop in North East

“TISS and UNICEF organize workshop in the North – East for building the capacity of local NGOs”

Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and UNICEF have jointly organized yet another workshop for building the capacity of their NGO partners. Considering the importance of expediting the socio-economic development in the North East and the crucial role that civil society organizations can play in this regard, it was decided by TISS and UNICEF to hold their fourth capacity building workshop for NGO partners in Guwahati. The previous TISS-UNICEF capacity building workshops for NGOs were held in Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi. It may be recalled that the Proposal Bank of Development Labs — Centre for Public Policy and Governance, TISS was launched in the last TISS-UNICEF capacity building workshop, and this was reported in the June Issue of the Corporate Social Focus Magazine.

In the past Companies Act 2013 scenario, the volume of CSR funds available to the development sector is increasing and the CSR expenditure for 2015-16, as per figures from the Prime Database, exceeds Rs. 8000 crore. In such a context, NGOs – who are most suited to implement CSR sector projects because of their specialized competencies, grassroots reach and passion – must be prepared with project management, proposal writing, and financial management and other relevant skills and knowledge so that they can better attract and utilize CSR funds. It was with such a rationale that this workshop on preparing NGOs for CSR partnerships was organized.

 The Fourth Regional Capacity Building Workshop for Development Partners of TISS, titled “Preparing for CSR Partnerships” was held in Hotel Rajdhani Regency, Dispur, Guwahati on 28th-29th November, 2016. 54 participants from 41 NGOs took part in the workshop.

The participating NGOs were not only from Assam but also from other North-Eastern states such as Manipur, and these were not just empaneled development partners of Development Labs — Centre for Public Policy and Governance, TISS but also NGO partners of UNICEF and the Guwahati Campus of TISS.

The workshop commenced with a welcome address by Mr Rohan Sarma, Head, Empanelment and Capacity Building, Development Labs — Centre for Public Policy and Governance, TISS, in which the objectives and context of the workshop were laid down. This was followed by a presentation by Prof D.K. Shrivastava, Director, TISS Guwahati workshop in which he delineated the scope for partnership between NGOs of the North-East region and the TISS Guwahati workshop. The workshop commenced to cover a special address by Mr Sundar Singh, Global Head, Oracle Practice, Tata Consultancy Services, which highlighted how technology can be leveraged by NGOs in the internal and external aspects of their functioning to address the development needs of the North-East region.

One of the fascinating components of this workshop was a panel discussion titled “Why CSR? What CSR? How CSR?” chaired and facilitated by Mr Rohan Sarma in which the panelists – Mr Sunder Singh, Prof D.K Srivastava, Mr S.N. Batliwalla, Financial Advisor, TISS and former Secretary and Chief Accountant of Tata Trusts, Ms Ruchira Gujral, Corporate Engagement and CSR Officer, UNICEF, Mr Sanjaya Pradhan of NSDC and Ms Bhaswati Goswami of the acclaimed North East Region NGO C-NES – provided a variety of valuable perspectives on topics such as the scope of CSR, whether it should be contextualized to the North East region, selection of implementing agencies, and the role of business in society and in implementing CSR (going beyond giving funds). At the end of the panel discussion, the panelists launched the official brochure of the Development Labs — Centre for Public Policy and Governance.

Proposal writing is an important skill for attracting CSR funding; therefore, presentations by Ms Ruchira Gujral of UNICEF and Dr Ananya Samajdar, Head, Proposal Bank, Development Labs — Centre for Public Policy and Governance, TISS provided tips on writing better project proposals. Ms Gujral’s presentation also provided insights on UNICEF’s work and how NGOs can motivate businesses to become more responsible. Dr Samajdar’s presentations in the workshop also elucidated the legal framework of CSR and parameters for evaluating Project Proposals.

Mr V Venkataramana, COO, Shantilal Muttha Foundation, Pune made a presentation, well grounded in experiential insights and examples, on results-based programme development and management, in which NGOs were urged to develop clarity about the logic model of activity, outputs and outcomes, that can help structure programme planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

A presentation by Dr Tushar Rane, Chief, UNICEF Field Office, Guwahati, shed light on the socio-economic development situation in the North-East, that set the context for the next session. The next session was one of group activity, in which the mentors – Ms Ruchira Gujral, Dr Ananya Samajdar, Mr Venkataramana, Mr Batliwalla, and Ms. Bhaswati Goswami and Dr C.R. Hira, for the sectors child rights, community development, education, skill development and livelihood, and health – guided participants with inputs to improve their draft project proposals which they proposed to submit to the Proposal Bank and/or to development sector funders in the future. This session was followed by presentations by the mentors and participant representatives on the content, areas of concern and strengths of the proposals, a unique feature being the ‘pitch’ made by the participants promoting their proposals to hypothetical CSR funders. The session facilitator, Mr Rohan Sarma, gave feedback to the presenters.

Overall, the workshop not only included useful presentations by the resource persons, but also active participation from the attendees, especially in the group activity and group presentation sessions. The workshop concluded with the distribution of certificates to all participants in appreciation of their contribution in making the workshop a success.

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