YOUTH-LED ORGANIZATIONS AND SRHR           A step by step guide to creating    sustainable youth-led organizations working...
TABLE OF CONTENTSAcknowledgements								                                             4Who we are									                ...
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSWe would like to thank all members andstaff of CHOICE for youth and sexual-ity and the Youth Coalition for...
WHO WE ARE 	                                initiation and growth of youth advocacy                                       ...
INTRODUCTION                               Why Sexual and Reproductive                                           Health an...
About this guide                           what you are already doing. Whether                                           y...
How to use this guideWhile reading this guide, we encour-age you to contextualize the conceptsraised to suit your own real...
AN OVERVIEW:                                 Adolescence is a critical time and these                                     ...
have their own agenda; its own specificAdolescents must be fully involved in the                        strengths and can ...
SETTING THE FOUNDATION:                        is common to want to take up several                                       ...
activities, you can choose to devote           want to achieve these goals (strat-     more time to fundraising.          ...
too much! While it is an important pro-                 there needs to be room for flexibility     cess, there will always...
Mission and vision                                           entation are hotly debated subjects. It is                   ...
your members with responsibilities,                             The advantage of this exercise is thatdecision- making cap...
to use your strength of having unique      ing mindful of what your organizationalexperiences and knowledge to reduce     ...
classes at high schools in district X’.     Do not be afraid of recognizing thatDeveloping an objective in this way,      ...
your objectives, and the ways in which       tive, monitoring changes in the SRHRit can be improved upon next time.       ...
DECISION-MAKING BY                                          Consensus decision-making requires                            ...
 When each individual shares in the         The Steps  decision of the group, then all have  a greater commitment to impl...
Support: The person agrees with the          only one person to halt the entire pro-proposal, solution or plan of action b...
MEMBERSHIP: THE BASIS OF                    tion, the process of seeking out new                                          ...
interviews. During these interviews,the organization can pose the most rel-     In addition to documenting institution-eva...
Coaching example: take two                    is based on their application. In orderprinciple                            ...
DEFINING THE STRUCTURE                      ganizational values.With passion and commitment in hand,        When consideri...
work areas and added to this, techno-      tion’s direction is for each organizationlogical advancements and budget con-  ...
the membership and is empowered to            organized in different ways. For exam-act in the interests of the membership...
different bodies it could be beneficial to   taxes. This is a complicated processhave a staff and/or Board member be      ...
get paid in the organization, and it is     son, it is advisable to hire one person,important to decide how to approach   ...
ing, you may want to consider conduct-ing a SWOT analysis every few years.Whichever structure you choose, it isimportant t...
ACTIVITIES:                                   tions and fundraising) in youth-led or-                                     ...
and opposition, research the policy                         ingful youth participation. One of theaudience, develop messag...
to receive more funding, broaden yourcontact base, and help you reach ar-eas or people you otherwise may nothave been able...
COMMUNICATION AND                            in particular, selecting a name for your                                     ...
motivated and energized as well as           position of being able to communicateprovides an excellent environment to    ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
 Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual ...
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Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (2009)

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Youth-led Organizations and SRHR: a step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (2009)

  1. 1. YOUTH-LED ORGANIZATIONS AND SRHR A step by step guide to creating sustainable youth-led organizations working on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. By Claudia Ahumada, Karolien Dekkers, Annelies Mesman, Lynda Saleh and Jostein van Vliet
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTSAcknowledgements 4Who we are 5 Introduction 6 Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) of young people Why youth-led organizations on SRHR? Getting started: an idea is born An overview: Youth and SRHR 9Setting the foundation 11 Defining your mission, principles and values Strategic planning Decision-making mechanisms Membership: the basis of the organization 22 Recruitment and selection of new members Ensuring a sustainable learning organization Coaching: take two principle Defining the Structure 25 Membership-based Board of Directors Task forces, Working Groups and/or Committees Staff Advisory Council Activities: making an impact 31 Skills and knowledge building National, Regional and International conferences Networking Communication and branding 34Ensuring sustainable funding 36Establishing an office 40 Office space Being hosted Moving towards legal independence 41 Human resources Legal aspects and the development of bylaws Financial aspects Administrative aspects In closing 45Glossary 47Additional resources 49
  3. 3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSWe would like to thank all members andstaff of CHOICE for youth and sexual-ity and the Youth Coalition for Sexualand Reproductive Rights (YCSRR),whose passion and commitment tosustainable, youth-led organizations onSRHR has made this guide possible.Had it not been for them, we would nothave the experiences we have today,which have enabled us to create thishandbook on building and maintainingsustainable youth-led SRHR organiza-tions.For their input throughout the devel-opment of this guide, we would liketo thank Victor Bernhardtz and NehaSood. Additionally, thanks to EmilyTurk for the design and layout of thisguide.We would also like to thank UNFPA fortheir generous financial contribution,without which this guide would nothave been possible.4
  4. 4. WHO WE ARE initiation and growth of youth advocacy organizations on SRHR worldwide byCHOICE for youth and sexuality and training and offering organizational de-the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Re- velopment support since 2004.productive Rights are two completelyyouth-led organizations. We have ex- The Youth Coalition for Sexual andisted respectively for 12 and 10 years Reproductive Rights is an internationaland are proud to be working examples organization of young people (ages 15-of young people who can create, main- 29 years) committed to promoting ado-tain and run sustainable, youth-led lescent and youth sexual and repro-SRHR organizations. ductive rights at the national, regional and international levels. While the of-CHOICE is a Dutch youth-led organiza- fice is based in Canada, members aretion that amplifies the voices of young all around the world. It is made up ofpeople on sexuality and reproduction volunteers, students, researchers, law-worldwide, and promotes the right to yers, health care professionals, educa-make one’s own choices in this area. tors, development workers and, mostCHOICE consists entirely of youth un- importantly, dedicated young activists.der the age of 29, all of whom share the It aims to ensure that the sexual andpassion of improving the lives of young reproductive rights of all young peoplepeople worldwide. The organization are respected, guaranteed and pro-has approximately 25 youth advocates moted, and strives to secure the mean-who all work on a voluntary basis for ingful participation of young people inthe organization. CHOICE was set up decision-making that affects our lives,by the World Population Foundation by advocating, generating knowledge,in 1997 and became independent in sharing information, building partner-2005. CHOICE members advocate for ships and training young activists. Dur-the importance of sexual and repro- ing its first few years, the Youth Coali-ductive health and rights by addressing tion was hosted by Action Canada fordecision and policymakers and making Population and Development and thensure that the voice of youth is heard and went on to gain legal independence inguaranteed on a national and interna- 2007.tional level. Capacity building of youthand youth organizations are an impor-tant investment to empower youth andto realize sustainable youth leader-ship. Therefore CHOICE supports the 5
  5. 5. INTRODUCTION Why Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights?Why this guide? Whilst this guide is useful for variousThis is a step-by-step guide to creat- types of youth organizations, it focus-ing a sustainable youth-led organiza- es and draws upon the experiences oftion on sexual and reproductive health youth organizations working on SRHRand rights (SRHR). While the steps advocacy.1 The reasoning behind thisdescribed here may be useful to you if is twofold: there are few subjects asyou are planning on creating a youth- relevant to young people as SRHRled organization on something other and fewer still that are as necessarythan SRHR, given that specific needs for young people to get involved andand challenges may vary, and because organized around as SRHR.the two authoring organizations workon SRHR, this guide refers more spe- Sexuality is an aspect of every per-cifically to the establishment and sus- son’s life and this is especially the casetainability of youth-led organizations for young people. As young peopleon SRHR. around the world think about and expe- rience the positive and negative sidesIn the past decennia, a large number of sexuality regularly, there are someof programs, campaigns and organi- of us that want to take it a step furtherzations have been initiated, led and and commit to the struggle for SRHRmaintained by young people. As suc- for our peers all around the world. As acessful and long lasting the impact young person, you see challenges thatof the work led by young people has your peers face and you see that ini-been, youth initiatives can also be tiatives developed to overcome theseshort lived. Some youth organizations challenges are not sufficient or inac-exist for a few years, and wither as the cessible to young people. As younginitial members age-out or move on to people, we have the passion and com-other things. Some do not even move mitment to produce change. We arepast the formation stage, as the barri- creative and energetic and willing toers they face can be too high. invest our time and energy in making a difference because we care! But, where can one start? 1 Note: when we say organization, this could be any type of organization: a youth group, a movement or a network, among others.6
  6. 6. About this guide what you are already doing. Whether you are running a campaign, engagedOver the years we have worked with in trainings or peer education, or justmany organizations and young activ- discussing possibilities for action withists from around the globe, and ques- friends, you are your own experts andtions we are often asked include: how no single guide will be able to providedid you create this organization? How all the answers.do you maintain it? How do you ensurethat young people stay involved and However, this guide does aim to pro-committed? How do you create a plat- vide you with information to supportform that can empower young people you throughout this process. A solid or-to advocate for their SRHR? While ganizational foundation is important forthere is no single answer on how to go young people to be empowered, speakabout this, in our experience, there are out and be taken seriously. It is the ba-certain steps which are key to creating sis from which your organizational ac-and maintaining a sustainable, youth- tivities will grow.led SRHR organization. This guide intends to:If you are reading this, you probablyhave an interest in youth organizations - Provide steps that you can take whileor SRHR. Alongside your peers, you building a sustainable youth-ledmay be considering a few ideas on SRHR organization;how to get involved or perhaps you arepart of a youth organization but have - Examine key lessons learned relat-questions on how to make your orga- ed to ensuring the sustainability ofnization more sustainable. You could youth-led SRHR organizations; andbe part of a youth group that is already delineate challenges and strategiesengaged in SRHR-related activities, to overcome them.such as capacity-building and peereducation but would like to expand into - Highlight a few additional resourcesother relevant areas, such as advoca- for young people interested in cre-cy. It also may be the case that your ating, maintaining or strengtheningorganization was set up by an ‘adult- youth-led SRHR organizations.led’ organization and you are nowconsidering the benefits of becomingcompletely youth-led. Whatever yourreasons, we hope to add something to 7
  7. 7. How to use this guideWhile reading this guide, we encour-age you to contextualize the conceptsraised to suit your own reality. We aimto share these ideas as pointers andsuggestions that work in a variety ofcontexts. It is up to you, however, tomake them fit into yours. 8
  8. 8. AN OVERVIEW: Adolescence is a critical time and these years can be damaging when youngYOUTH AND SRHR people’s needs are not addressed and their voices not heard; youth partici-Sexual and Reproductive Health and pation is integral to achieving SRHRRights encompass physical, emotional, for young people. Young people are apsychological and social wellbeing with huge focus group but all too often areregards to sexuality and reproduction. seen as a problem group instead ofTo guarantee sexual and reproductive the key to development and individu-health, young people’s human rights als who are capable of putting forthneed to be recognized, and perhaps tremendous contributions. When giv-even more importantly, exercised. This en the opportunity to make informedincludes young peoples’ right to have choices, young people are receptiveaccess to the information and services to positive change which leads to long-required to make informed decisions term and wide-ranging benefits. Youngabout their health and sexuality, free people are experts when it comes tofrom coercion and violence. Moreover, their own needs and situations andit also means that every individual has can best represent themselves as op-the right to experience their sexuality posed to someone doing it for them.and sexual relations in a positive and Young people are crucial leaders whopleasurable way and to be free from can bring about the desired change forillness, pressure, discrimination, force themselves. Youth voices must there-and violence. Mutual consent, equality, fore be heard and youth rights must berespect and pleasure form the basis of respected, including those concerningthese universal human rights. These our sexual and reproductive health.rights apply to everyone, regardless of Policies and programs must reflect theage, gender, marital status, ability, HIV reality that we are living in and addressstatus, sexual orientation, economic, our needs and challenges.cultural, social or religious status, geo-graphic location or other status. Programs for adolescents have proven most effective when they secure the fullSexual and Reproductive Health and involvement of adolescents in identify-Rights (SRHR) of young people ing their reproductive and sexual health needs and in designing programs thatYoung people have urgent sexual and responds to those needs.reproductive health needs and face - ICPD PoA, Paragraph 7.43challenges in exercising their rights. 9
  9. 9. have their own agenda; its own specificAdolescents must be fully involved in the strengths and can reach out to youth inplanning, implementation and evalua- different geographical regions. For ex-tion of such information and services…. ample, some organization’s niches will -ICPD PoA, Paragraph 7.472 be in international SRHR advocacy, so part of the organization’s strengths will be derived from its worldwide member-Why youth-led organizations on ship. Much needs to be achieved whenSRHR? considering the present SRHR situa- tion of young people. As SRHR orga-In order to realize sustainable youth nizations, we all have our own goals,leadership, youth-led organizations skills and knowledge. This creates anare key. Youth potential can be fulfilled exciting platform for collaboration andeven more so when channeled through partnership, further strengthening theyouth-led organizations and networks. meaningfully involvement of youthYouth-led organizations can strategi- voices and the inclusion of our issuescally work together in national and in- in policies and programs.ternational advocacy to promote andsafeguard our SRHR. Youth-led orga-nizations can support knowledge andinformation exchange between fellowyouth advocates thus safeguardinga continuous and sustainable youthvoice. In order to become this majorcatalyst for change, young people andyouth-led organizations need capacitybuilding in the field of SRHR advocacyand organizational development.As young people, we have uniqueknowledge and energy in compari-son to ‘professional’ organizations. Allyouth organizations working on SRHR2 From the International Conference on Population and De-velopment Programme for Action (ICPD PoA). The ICPDPoA, which was approved by 179 countries in September1994, was the first international document that recognized thesexual and reproductive health and rights of young people.10
  10. 10. SETTING THE FOUNDATION: is common to want to take up several important issues. However, it is usu-STRATEGIC PLANNING ally wise to limit yourself to a specific set of issues and activities that formYou probably already have a good idea the basis of your organization andof what you want to do and what you develop your expertise around thesewould like to achieve with your organi- issues. We recognize that as youngzation. You would like to start your ac- people working in SRHR, there is ativities, and as fast as possible! How- pressing desire to make a differenceever, it is important to take a step back, in the world. However, solid prepa-look at your organization, look at your ration and taking the time to developenvironment, and think how you can your activities in a way that is finan-best reach your goals. When begin- cially efficient and which can lead toning to build an organization around a a positive and long-term impact istask as large and daunting as ‘improv- critical.ing the SRHR of young people’, it iseasy to become overwhelmed by the Motivation: Sometimes the prob-number of things that could be done lems that you try to solve can be-to accomplish this. In addition, you will come overwhelming. Setting clearmost likely find that it is easy to get goals that you feel are achievablelost in all the information and themes and referring back to your past re-within SRHR. Therefore you need to sults and lessons learned will helpset boundaries and establish a clearly you in continuing your mission anddefined identity for your organization. keeping motivation levels high.Please note that in writing this guide, Balance: For the organization to bewe have assumed that you are starting sustainable, activities, membership,from scratch. However, whether the funding and coordination capacityactivities of your organization have al- should remain in balance. More ac-ready been implemented, or you have tivities means more funding shouldyet to start, it is important to look at the be sought. At the same time, morefoundation of your organization and to activities means a larger amount ofengage in ‘strategic planning’. For this capacity should be devoted to coor-process, do give a thought to the fol- dination. A strategic plan helps youlowing: make sure these components are in balance with each other. For exam- Focus: There are so many prob- ple, if you have more members than lems that we can try to solve, and it 11
  11. 11. activities, you can choose to devote want to achieve these goals (strat- more time to fundraising. egy); Donors and other sponsors: To • Identify what exactly you have to do to achieve these goals: make action successfully carry out organizational plans. goals, it is important to have other organizations believe in what you Some general points that are important are doing and support you; a stra- to consider in strategic planning: tegic plan facilitates easier dialogue about organizational activities. Ad- • The planning process is at least as im- ditionally, some donors will require portant as the document that it is pro- a strategic plan before considering duced. To encourage ownership over your funding proposal. the strategic plan, thus activities, and ultimately the organization itself, it isThere are many different ways to ap- important to include as many voicesproach the strategic planning process. as possible in the strategic planningHowever, it is advisable to consider the process, as everyone will be able to contribute good ideas and their uniquefollowing: perspective.• Look at what your organization really • Creativity is an important factor in de- wants to achieve (mission), and the veloping objectives and activities, with- principles and values that form the in your strategic plan, that are inspired core of the organization; and realistic. Oftentimes, brainstorm- ing on how best to reach organizational• Define the steps your organization goals yield the best and more relevant must undergo to achieve its mission. options. Paying careful attention to In other words, set goals; priorities within your goals, objectives and activities and holding one another• Look outside the organization: what accountable to those is an integral part challenges and circumstances do you of maintaining focus and producing the need to take in to account, and vice type of outcomes that are desirable. versa, are there factors that can help Harnessing ambitious goals and ob- inform your work?; jectives in your strategic plan will help to avoid disappointment down the line• Look inside the organization, to see and ensure that the goals your organi- what strengths and limitations exist; zation has set for itself are met.• Based on the environmental and or- • It is as important to do enough strate- ganizational analysis, decide how you gic planning, as it is important to not do12
  12. 12. too much! While it is an important pro- there needs to be room for flexibility cess, there will always be the tempta- and growth. tion to make your plan as complete and perfect as possible. There comes the • Before you start the strategic planning point where it is best to actually begin process, it is important to think about carrying out your activities instead of the kind of information you will need to developing an even better plan. Stra- develop a thorough plan. For example, tegic planning is a prime opportunity to if you start planning for an advocacy get bogged down in semantic discus- process, it is important to know how sions. When you find yourself in one, the policy cycles within government remember that meaning is more im- evolve. portant than literal text. • Every organization is different. If you• Strategic planning has its limits. You are a smaller organization without too cannot plan for everything, and your many activities in the future, the stra- environment can change as you carry tegic planning process may be much out your plans. Reality will always be simpler than if you plan to utilize mul- different than what you expected. Op- tiple strategies. portunities can also arise while you are busy implementing your activities. A strategic plan can help you in dealing However small or large your organiza- with these unexpected events. It is un- tion, you will be able to adapt the fol- necessary to set everything in stone; lowing steps to suit your needs:Figure 1: Defining your identity, and how your organization relates to the environment (SWOT) helpsin setting your goals and planning for your activities IDENTITY SWOT: You and your environment Mission Vision Strengths Weaknesses Strategic Goals Values and Opportunities Threats Strategic Goals Principles Objectives Activities 13
  13. 13. Mission and vision entation are hotly debated subjects. It is important that your organization takesA mission is the organization’s pur- the time to define where it stands onpose. In its basic form, it should the diverse range of SRHR issues, andsay what the organization is, what it clearly position yourselves. In doingdoes, and for whom it works. An or- this, you may want to formulate a list organizational mission allows your mem- ‘charter’ to express your organization’sbers, volunteers and staff to effectively principles, values or beliefs.4 Creatingcommunicate to others what your or- such a document can help you in de-ganization is about. Keep in mind that fining, understanding, and articulatingall your activities and projects should your principles within the organizationbe aimed at realizing this mission.3 and to the outside world. A charter will also prove to be useful in the selectionYou can choose to formulate a vision process for new members and staff, asbefore you start on your mission. A vi- well as in guiding your key activities.sion is your image of an ideal world; The document functions as a set of or-it describes when the goals of the or- ganizational principles that everyoneganization finally have been achieved. within your organization has a sharedFor example, you could envision, and agreement on. While periodic debatework towards “a world without HIV”. In on the charter may happen, and per-your vision you can and should be am- haps is even necessary, having a char-bitious; it is meant to be inspirational. ter to fall back on ensures the focus is on outside action, rather than internal debate.Principles and values Organizational values speak to theAn organization working on SRHR identity and culture of your organiza-deals with issues that can be sensitive. tion: What kind of behaviors do youIssues such as abortion and sexual ori- agree on within the organization as desirable? For example, as a youth-3 The mission of CHOICE for example is “CHOICE is ayouth-led organisation that strengthens the voice of young led organization, you aim for meaning-people worldwide on sexuality and having children and that ful youth participation. It is thereforeadvocates for the rights and the space to make our owndecisions around these issues. The mission of the Youth important to realize meaningful youthCoalition is “to ensure that the sexual and reproductive participation within your own organiza-rights of all young people are respected, guaranteed andpromoted, and strives to secure the meaningful participa- tion as well. This includes empoweringtion of young people in decision-making that affects theirlives, by advocating, generating knowledge, sharing infor-mation, building partnerships and training young activists 4 You can find the charters of CHOICE and the YC in thewith a focus on the regional and international levels.” additional resources section.14
  14. 14. your members with responsibilities, The advantage of this exercise is thatdecision- making capacity, ownership when time is taken to seriously con-over the organization, equal opportuni- sider all the potential strengths andties, and invest in the knowledge and weaknesses, a SWOT analysis willskills building of members.5 provide you with the opportunity to se- lect a strategy which best suits yourIt is crucial that all members and staff organization. Also, keep in mind thatare included in the process of defin- while brainstorming, you may comeing the mission, charter, principles to the realization that there is alwaysand values and steadfastly believe in something more you can add and inthem. Not only will they influence your this way, it can become a very longorganizational culture, they will also process. After an initial brainstorminginform the actions that ultimately will of ideas, it is helpful to limit the discus-be carried out by the members of the sion to the most important aspects inorganization. In most, if not all organi- order to save time.zations, taking time to revisit your mis-sion, principles and values every few For a members-based organization, foryears is important. This is particularly example, a strength could be that yournecessary for youth-led organizations members have specific experiencesas ownership is important and we are and knowledge that other people dofaced with ageing-out and turnover. not have; on the other hand, a weak- ness could be that people have limited time available to devote to the organi-Environment and organization: zation’s work. One of the opportunitiesSWOT could be that an important campaign- ing moment is coming up; and one ofAnother key ingredient in strategic the threats could be that other organi-planning is looking at what your organi- zations do not yet accept your organi-zation is good at, and in what environ- zation as a serious partner. It is alsoment your organization will operate. In helpful to think of the human and finan-other words, look at the strengths and cial resources that you may or may notweaknesses of the organization, and have as an organization.the potential opportunities and threatsthat could influence the organization. Once you have listed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats5 As a tool for meaningful youth participation, CHOICE de- of your organization, you can cross linkveloped the ‘Flower of Participation’ which illustrates thedifferent levels of youth participation and a distinction be- them. For example, you can choosetween meaningful and not meaningful youth participation. 15
  15. 15. to use your strength of having unique ing mindful of what your organizationalexperiences and knowledge to reduce capacity will realistically allow you tothe threat of people not accepting your do will keep motivation and commit-organization as a serious partner. ment levels of members high. Stra- tegic plans are often set for the long term and range between 3-5 years andStrategic goals and objectives despite not being able to predict what will happen in three years time, long-Following the SWOT analysis comes term strategic plans allow for a sensethe time to set one or more strategic of direction and ensures that activitiesgoals. A strategic, or “overall goal” is contribute to your organization achiev-what you want to achieve in the com- ing its mission. While it is alright toing years by carrying out your activi- start with a shorter strategic plan inties. This goal should be achievable the initial stages of your organization,and should contribute to your mission. say 2 or 3 years, it is ideal to be able to develop longer term plans, rangingSetting strategic goals is also about 5 or 7 years, as the organization pro-deciding how you want to achieve gresses.your mission. A strategy is a plan ofaction that will help you achieve your Once you have set your goals, it is timegoal. It is helpful to set one goal per to get more specific and define objec-strategy. For instance, if your orga- tives. The level at which you define yournization decides to focus on national- objectives depends on what your orga-level campaigns, each of the strategies nization looks like and how many differ-associated with this, such as support- ent activities you plan to carry out. Aning national campaigns, carrying out important concept in objectives is thatnational campaigns and engaging in they should be Specific, Measurable,international advocacy, should have Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound,separate and clearly defined goals. in other words SMART.6 For example,Defining clear goals and objectives for if the overall goal of an organization isyour organization’s activities before to ‘improve access to sexuality educa-you start will make your work easier in tion for high school students’, the ob-the long run and will also make it pos- jective would be that ‘within 3 months,sible gauge the kind of results your ac- 75% of the trained peer educators willtivities may have. be able to conduct sexuality educationWhile it is great to be ambitious, be- 6 For a handout on SMART objectives, see additional re- sources.16
  16. 16. classes at high schools in district X’. Do not be afraid of recognizing thatDeveloping an objective in this way, sometimes things could have beenthe SMART-rule makes your activities done better, learning from challenges,easier to monitor and evaluate). and building upon those experiences, in other words, your ‘lessons learned’. No matter how hard you are working toActivities and budget ensure that your organization is a suc- cess, there are sure to be some bumpsThe last step in your strategic planning along the way. This is particularly trueprocess is a plan of action. What needs if your work entails something that hasto be done? By when? Who will be re- not been done before and where yousponsible? An action plan will ensure are breaking new ground. The impor-that you plan for the different aspects tant thing is that you recognize that asof your activities in a realistic way and an organization you are always learn-that individuals, taskforces or working ing and applying those lessons. Les-groups will be held accountable for a sons learned also include your suc-certain task. A very important aspect cesses and developing best practices,of your action plans is the budget. You so be sure to also keep track of thoseshould be able to forecast the cost of and carefully evaluate what made aactivities so that you can fundraise for particular initiative so successful.it. The process of recording your results and your lessons learned is calledMonitoring and Evaluation monitoring and evaluation (also known as M&E). Through M&E, youThroughout and following the imple- can track the impact of your activities,mentation of activities it is important make changes along the way, and en-to know whether your activities have sure that they will achieve the objec-achieved what you intended, and les- tives you have identified. Monitoringsons learned to make activities more is what you do while the project is go-effective in the future. Seeing your ef- ing on. You see whether the activitiesforts result in achieving your goals is are on track and whether unexpectedhelpful in keeping motivation levels things happen. This allows you to ad-high and is of interest to donors as it just your plans while you are carryingdemonstrates that you have efficiently out your work. Evaluation is what youutilized funds to contribute to a suc- do after an activity has ended. You thencessful activity. look at whether you have achieved 17
  17. 17. your objectives, and the ways in which tive, monitoring changes in the SRHRit can be improved upon next time. situation of young people, etc. Which- ever approach you choose, monitorIf you have set your goals and objec- and evaluate, ensure follow up, and betives in a careful manner, it will be much sure to regularly seek feedback so thateasier in the end to evaluate whether you can consistently learn lessons andwhat has been achieved is what you build on them, significantly increasingintended. Thinking about M&E while your chances of success. Also, do notworking through the strategic planning forget to celebrate your victories to-process is helpful because it will al- gether as these are just as importantlows you to assess the criteria against as your challenges. Celebration of yourwhich you can judge an activity has successes will keep up the motivationhaving been successful or unsuccess- and commitment of members!ful. Ask yourself the question ‘at whichpoint would I happy with the result?’and ‘how will I know I have achievedit?’ To keep with the example of im-proving sexuality education, you canchoose to do a test to see whether thepeer educators have received enoughinformation.Depending on the kind of informationyou are seeking, the nature of the ac-tivity and your own internal capacity,the way you do M&E can vary quitea bit. Some approaches may includedeveloping written evaluation formsafter activities, having focus groupdiscussions, conducting one-on-oneinterviews, keeping track of the num-ber of publications you are distributing,tracking the number of visits to yourorganization’s website and resourcesdownloaded, analyzing the number ofyoung people participating in advocacysince the beginning of a certain initia-18
  18. 18. DECISION-MAKING BY Consensus decision-making requires time, as everyone must have an oppor-CONSENSUS7 tunity to share their opinions. In group decision-making, the larger the group,Crucial to an organization’s founda- the more time required to make a deci-tion are clear decision-making mech- sion. Consensus also requires trust, toanisms. In this guide, we will discuss encourage sharing of ideas and opin-a particular form of decision-making: ions in a safe environment. The groupconsensus. Both CHOICE and the must be willing to engage in open dis-Youth Coalition use this form of deci- cussions and trust that the group hassion-making. We feel that for an orga- the capacity to make good decisionsnization consisting of young people, through consensus. At times, consen-often working on a voluntary basis, sus decision-making may require thatconsensus is a powerful tool. Howev- someone manage the decision-mak-er, it is for each organization to decide ing process without contributing anywhich decision-making mechanism content to it. Nominating someoneworks best for them. to facilitate consensus-based decision making is helpful to guide the groupConsensus is a participatory model of through the process. The facilitator willgroup decision-making. In consensus also be mindful that some people feeldecision-making, making the decision more secure than others to raise theiritself is not necessarily the main goal, points in a larger group and will playas a “majority rules” approach is likely a central role in encouraging everyonethe speediest way to make decisions to speak their mind.and move the agenda forward. Con-sensus is based on the principle that There are many benefits to operatingevery voice is worth hearing, and ev- by consensus decision-making:ery concern is justified. If a proposalmakes a few people or even one per-  Consensus definitely takes longerson deeply unhappy - then a consen- than an arbitrary decision, but thesus approach recognizes that there is decision is usually more meaning-a valid reason for that unhappiness, ful and assures follow-through onand if the group ignores this, they are implementing decisions. Decisionslikely to make mistakes. made by consensus generally stick, which can save a lot of time in the long run.7 This section is based on “Guidelines on consensus deci-sion-making. A handbook of the Youth Coalition” For moreinformation, see additional resources. 19
  19. 19.  When each individual shares in the The Steps decision of the group, then all have a greater commitment to implement When conducting consensus decision- the group’s decisions. making, the following steps can be fol- lowed: Consensus increases group strength by decentralizing authority, and al- Step 1 - The Issue: The group de- lowing more people in the group to scribes and defines the decision take on leadership roles. item. Consensus stresses the cooperative Step 2 - Brainstorm: The group development of a decision and the brainstorms a list of possible active search for common ground courses of action without judging, rather than differences. discussing, or rejecting any of the ideas presented. When a decision is not favorable to the whole group, time is often taken Step 3 - Discussion: The group to find creative (and often better) reviews, discusses and synthesiz- solutions. es the options presented in Step 2, developing a draft decision based on the input of all members of theConsensus decision-making is best group.used in a group that has a strong will-ingness to work together. For mem- Step 4 - Decision: After adequatebers to share the mission, values and discussion, the facilitator will ask ifgoals of the organization is important, there is any opposition to the pro-as members will have the flexibility to posed decision as stated. The fa-sometimes set aside their personal be- cilitator should poll each person inliefs for the benefit of the organization. the group, pointedly asking if theyIt is important to make sure that people agree with and support the decisioncan speak freely, and that expressing as stated.alternate opinions is not limited by peerpressure or power dynamics. Individuals can register their views on the proposal under discussion in three ways: by expressing support, non-sup- port/reservations, or blocking the pro- posal.20
  20. 20. Support: The person agrees with the only one person to halt the entire pro-proposal, solution or plan of action be- cess, this is a lot of power. Consensusfore the group, and supports the pro- cannot work unless people are respon-posal and the group. (“I agree with and sible regarding their use of this power.support this proposal.” “I agree, this is Blocks should be used rarely and care-the best possible solution.”). fully.Non-support/reservation: The per-son does not feel that the proposeddecision is required for the function-ing or that the proposal is best for thegroup, but agrees to abide by the deci-sion for the well being of the group. (“Idon’t see the need for this, but I will goalong.” “I think this may be a mistakebut I can live with it.”)Blocking: The person disagrees withthe proposed course of action andfeels they must block consensus. (“Icannot support this or allow the groupto support this.”)If several members of the group ex-press non-support/reservations on theproposal, there is no real consensus.A proposal that sparks reservations istypically not a very viable or appropriatedecision, even if no one directly blocksthe proposal. When this situation oc-curs, the facilitator and the group mustmake a concerted effort towards con-sensus building and compromise. If agroup member has strong objectionsto a proposal that affects them, in con-sensus decision-making, this personcan block the proposal. Since it takes 21
  21. 21. MEMBERSHIP: THE BASIS OF tion, the process of seeking out new members, introducing them to theTHE ORGANIZATION organization, and enabling them to meaningfully contribute to and haveThe most prominent feature of youth ownership over its work is an ongo-organizations is their youthful mem- ing task. Youth-led organizationsbership. There is no universal defini- face a huge turnover as members oftion (or age-limit) of ‘youth’. According your organization grow older, they willto the UN, young people are defined eventually ‘age-out’, which means thatas persons between the age of 10-24 members and staff transition out of theyears old and youth as being between organization when they reach a certain15-24 years old. Your organization’s age. In addition, members may leaveage limit is reflective of your organiza- the organization for a variety of rea-tional values, philosophy and commit- sons, both personal and professional.ment to youth-leadership. As such, you This means that you will need to fo-will need to set your own boundaries cus on and invest in recruitment andand adhere to it, even if that means selection of new members. Having athat the founder or a very dedicated strategy in place will make it easier tomember will ‘age-out’ of the organiza- spot opportunities for recruitment andtion. highlight appropriate venues where you can promote your organization.You should consider what kind of Regardless of the route you choose, itmembers your organization wants to is important that you develop a systemhave with respect to factors such as and budget for ongoing recruitment ofdiversity, age, experience and skills. members. You may want to do this byImportant for every youth organization including a section on your website foris the need for members to acquire the membership applications or by sharingnecessary skills by investing in internal the news at community meetings andcapacity building and training and to be with fellow NGOs. It is important to rec-mindful that if you want certain groups ognize that while ageing-out can haveof people on your team, you must ac- its challenges, it is also a tremendoustively outreach to them! opportunity to regularly infuse the or- ganization with new people, ideas and perspectives, which will ultimately en-Recruitment and selection of new rich your work.members Selection of new members can, for ex-To remain a truly youth-led organiza- ample, be done by conducting intake22
  22. 22. interviews. During these interviews,the organization can pose the most rel- In addition to documenting institution-evant questions for the possible mem- al history, you have to be prepared tobership. The interview also provides guide and strengthen the skills andthe potential new member with space knowledge of (new) members andto pose any questions to the organiza- staff. You have to ensure that they aretion and what it means to be a member. empowered and motivated to take theAn intake interview also ensures that lead within the organization. This canexpectations of both parties are clear be done through induction trainings forand that the new member is commit- new members and staff, regular inter-ted, passionate and able to invest time nal trainings, information sharing, andin the organization and its mission. A annual members and staff meetings.report of an intake interview can af- Coaching or buddy systems, as seenterwards be used to select a potential below, can also help share organiza-new member or not, depending on the tional history, knowledge on ways ofneeds of the organization and the qual- working, information on activities andity of the potential new member. facilitate the growing roles of newcom- ers to the organization. How you fa- cilitate this, depends on your structureEnsuring a sustainable learning and size, as well as on human and fi-organization nancial resources in your organization. For example, you may want to chooseMembership turnover can create cer- to have a task force or working grouptain challenges as when people leave of members dedicated to outreachingthey take with them knowledge and ex- to new members and coaching them;perience, but this can be overcome by a staff person dedicated to this; or aensuring that strong institutional histo- combination of both. In the end, it isry is developed and documented. Take key to create a space for new mem-the time to constantly document how bers to bring in and implement newyour organization has developed, keep ideas. As their sense of ownership overreports on activities and write down the organization and their commitmenthow you have dealt with challenges in grows, so will the sustainability of thethe past. All of this documentation will organization.be a huge help to new members andstaff as they join the organization andavoids having to reinvent the wheel orstart from scratch constantly. 23
  23. 23. Coaching example: take two is based on their application. In orderprinciple to introduce such a procedure, make sure you have agreed on who is au-A coaching system is an ideal way to thorized to make the selection. In mosttransfer knowledge and to empower youth organizations, everyone but thenew members. It means activities are applicants decide together. This is verycarried out in pairs by a newer and motivating for new members, as theirolder member. This is often called the vote is as valuable as the votes of an‘take two principle’. You can apply this ‘older’ member. However, who decidedrule to all your activities or to those ac- also depends on the size of your orga-tivities that are most difficult and there- nization.fore also have a considerable learningeffect. The more experienced member Furthermore, clear conditions and cri-has the role of coach towards the less teria are needed to make a fair selec-experienced member before, during tion. Conditions can be:and after the activity. - Members need to be a member for aTo implement this kind of coach- certain period of timeing system, you need to decide what - Members need to have a certain level of activitymakes somebody experienced or less - Members need to continue their mem-experienced. You can express this in bership for a certain time after the activ-terms of competencies or in terms of ity to make sure their knowledge can beexperience (somebody has done this shared within the organizationkind of activity before). This does not - The group of selected persons differmean less experienced members do each timenot have any knowledge at all! They - Somebody cannot be selected twocan provide a new perspective on the times successivelyexisting knowledge of experiencedmembers. Examples of selection criteria are:To make sure members have an equal - The knowledge and experience of mem-chance to participate in activities and bersdevelop themselves, you can intro- - The learning opportunities for new mem- bersduce a selection procedure for activi- - Their motivationties. This means members can apply - Their availabilityfor activities and selection of experi- - The expected impact of an activity onenced and less experienced members the personal development of a member.24
  24. 24. DEFINING THE STRUCTURE ganizational values.With passion and commitment in hand, When considering the structure of yourand the foundation firmly established, organization, it is important to haveyou can begin thinking more about the solid leadership in place to guide youstructure of your organization. Creat- through the process. As youth organi-ing a structure which meets your orga- zations, we may not have several yearsnization’s needs and establishes the of experience to draw from when es-different mechanisms that will be used tablishing a structure, but what we doto carry out the organization’s work is have is passion, commitment and cre-an important part of building a well- ativity, and these are powerful factorsfunctioning and sustainable organiza- in creating an organizational structuretion. There are many different ways of and culture that suits you. As youth or-structuring your organization and in the ganizations, we are also in a constantearly stages, it can be done through tri- state of transition as members, volun-al and error; however choosing or cre- teers and staff age out of the organiza-ating a structure that responds to the tion, so having a strong and resource-needs of your organization and clearly ful leadership base that can take theselays out decision-making structures, challenges and identify a structureroles and responsibilities and program that anticipates how knowledge will beimplementation methods is fundamen- managed and how tasks will be distrib-tal and will put you on the road to ef- uted is important. Doing this in a wayficiency and sustainability. which motivates and empowers people with learning opportunities within yourThe structure of an organization should organization is an important buildingbe linked to the type of activities, the block to creating a truly sustainableinternal values, strengths and weak- youth-led organization. While organi-nesses, as well as the environment zational structures differ and it is up towithin which the organization works. you to decide how you want your orga-Organizations will vary in complexity so nization to look, there are a few corechoosing an organizational structure is elements that should be kept in mind.a matter of weighing of the pros andcons of a particular approach. Keep in Clearly defining the roles and respon-mind, however, that the most important sibilities within your organization is anthing is to choose a structure that sup- important step in establishing a strongports your organization in achieving its organizational structure. Working ongoals and that is respectful of your or- SRHR, oftentimes there is overlap in 25
  25. 25. work areas and added to this, techno- tion’s direction is for each organizationlogical advancements and budget con- to decide, but establishing guidelinesstraints can necessitate shared work, at as to what is expected of members istimes more so than initially envisioned. important in creating a structure thatAs such, defining roles and responsi- works for your organization and maxi-bilities allows everyone to clearly un- mizes members’ contribution. For ex-derstand their role in and contribution ample, members may be responsibleto the organization, avoids unneces- for following SRHR discussions andsary work, thus increasing efficiency, sharing this with the membership asand contributes to a cohesive mem- a whole, for determining future activi-ber, volunteer and staff force. All team ties and organizational direction andmembers should have their roles and for participating in financial and legalresponsibilities clearly communicated decision-making. If members contrib-to them, on an ongoing basis, particu- ute their time voluntarily, it is importantlarly as the organization grows and re- to respect their autonomy and create asponsibilities evolve. Some current ex- structure that allows for continuous andamples of defined and structured roles open dialogue, and engages membersand responsibilities utilized by youth to the extent that they feel true owner-organizations include a membership ship over the organization.base, Board of Directors, taskforces,workgroups and/or committees, staff,and advisory councils. Board of Directors The most common subgroup or bodyMembership-based within an organization is a Board of Di- rectors or Steering Committee, whichIn this guide we are assuming the or- can provide general oversight and holdganization is built around members. An decision-making authority. The nameorganizational structure that is mem- of this body is dependent on culturebers-based is an excellent way to build and legal requirements. The role of thean organization that is comprised of Board of Directors varies by organiza-passionate and inspired young people. tion, but it can be as limited as holdingMembers contribute their knowledge, monthly meetings to review organiza-expertise and diverse perspectives tional work, or be involved in the dayand are absolutely critical to the suc- to day decision-making of the organi-cess of the organization. The scope in zation. In a members-based organiza-which members inform the organiza- tion, a Board of Directors, is elected by26
  26. 26. the membership and is empowered to organized in different ways. For exam-act in the interests of the membership. ple, it can be around themes, such asIt ensures that the strategic objectives HIV and AIDS or abortion; or events-established by the membership are im- based, around a certain conference.plemented. It makes sense, and is often They can also be focused internallylegally required, to have a division of re- such as focusing on member man-sponsibility within the Board and have agement or communication.8 Some ofpositions such as Chair, Vice Chair, these bodies can be permanent (forSecretary and Treasurer. For example, example, a communications subcom-it can become messy if all Board mem- mittee). Whatever your structure, itbers are responsible for liaising with is important to define clearly not onlystaff about the organizational budget. what the responsibilities are, but alsoAppointing one member, the Treasurer what the power or authority of the bodyin this case, to be the point person on is in relation to that responsibility. Inthis, and subsequently share informa- other words, if people have a task, buttion with the Board of Directors avoids do not have the means to carry it out orconfusion. The Board of Directors can the mandate to make decisions relatedalso be responsible for ensuring that to that task, it will be hard for them tothe organization complies with local work.laws. The level of responsibility and in-volvement you would like the Board of If you decide to have taskforces, work-Directors to take is entirely up to you, ing groups or committees, it is useful tobut as always, clearly defining these elect members to chair or co-chair theroles are key to a creating a Board of group to provide leadership, to motivateDirectors that functions effectively and the members and to ensure tasks areis accountable to the members of the completed in a timely manner. To fos-organization. ter fluid information exchange between 8 One challenge in youth organizations is the balance be- tween the ‘primary process’, which is the activities you doTask forces, Working Groups and/or to achieve your goals, and the ‘secondary process’ which is everything that is necessary for your primary processCommittees to run smoothly. Both primary and secondary processes need enough capacity. For example, fundraising and web- site maintenance can be time-consuming and challenging,In addition to forming a Board, it is but are crucial for organizational sustainability and visibil-helpful to create other bodies with spe- ity. A solution to make sure that the secondary processes are taken care of is to have all members take places incific tasks. They can be called working bodies that work on maintaining the organization, in addi-groups, task forces, committees, or tion to their membership in bodies concerned with primary processes. Creating bodies with specific tasks does notany other name you like. They can be mean that members cannot do things outside of the ambit of their taskforce or working groups. 27
  27. 27. different bodies it could be beneficial to taxes. This is a complicated processhave a staff and/or Board member be and if you have limited knowledge orpart of each taskforce. experience in this, it is a good idea to consult a lawyer to make sure it is done in accordance with local laws.Staff Job descriptions which clearly outlineGrowing slowly and appropriately bud- a list of tasks and responsibilities aregeting for the costs associated with important. Fundraising will very likelyorganizational growth is a great way be one of the tasks for your paid staff.to ensure sustainable growth. As your As you do not want your coordinator toorganizational and financial resources spend most of her/his time on raisinggrow, you may consider hiring staff funds for their own salary, it is wise notmembers to manage and support your to start hiring until you have securedorganization’s activities and projects. enough funds to employ a staff mem-You will need to have staff on board ber for at least 12 months.to facilitate the growth and support thedaily administration, as well as the in- In the early years of your organization,dependence process, should your or- and particularly as you develop yourganization choose this route. Staff are funding base, you may want to con-a valuable resource, particularly within sider hiring part time staff or recruitinga voluntary organization, as they will an intern or volunteer to keep costscontinually be connected with the or- to a minimum. If possible, and espe-ganization’s work. Prior to hiring any cially during the initial years of buildingstaff members, is it important that you an organization, it may be possible tocarefully budget for this and only take make your host organization the officialon as many staff members as is finan- employer of your staff. It is also worthcially feasible for your organization. noting that hiring young people to staffWhile this is an important part of build- your organization is an important com-ing an organization, for most youth ponent of creating an organization thatorganizations staffing an office will be is genuinely youth-led and reflective offinancially risky. Your overhead costs its principles and values.will increase and your Board of Direc-tors will have added responsibilities, as Hiring staff can bring quite a changethey will be the official employers and within the organization. One of thewill need to develop an understanding changes is that there are people thaton issues like salary and employment are being paid and people that do not28
  28. 28. get paid in the organization, and it is son, it is advisable to hire one person,important to decide how to approach such as an executive coordinator orthis. In a membership based organiza- manager, and empower that persontion, the organization exists because manage the rest of the staff.of its members, however it is importantto strike a balance between this whilealso valuing the important contribution Advisory Councilof staff, who are also individuals com-mitted to young people’s SRHR and in Advisory councils are typically com-a truly youth-led organization, will be posed of individuals with experience inyoung people themselves. The Board the different facets of your organizationof Directors has an important role to and can include members who haveplay in making sure that the diverse aged-out. They may not necessarilyrole of members and staff are respect- be young people but do have special-ed and valued, as well as in ensuring ized knowledge and can provide yourthat staff are enabled to support mem- Board of Directors and membershipbers in their tasks and vice versa. It is with guidance relating to the legal, fi-also important to make clear to every- nancial, programmatic and administra-one, staff and members, that staff can tive elements of your organization. Thenever be expected to also invest their role of the advisory council is limited tofree time voluntarily for the organiza- guidance, as well as support if neces-tion. Such an expectation, spoken or sary and appropriate; they are not de-outspoken, will most likely end with un- cision makers. It is a good resource tohappy and burnt out staff. consider, especially in the early stages of building your organization.As young people, the Board of Direc-tors might not have a lot of experience --------------------------------------------------in managing staff. For many youthorganizations, this creates problems As for mission, values and goals, con-from time to time, as conflicts arise or tinuously redefining your organizationalthe workload becomes too heavy. It is structure is very important, particularlytherefore important to have an ongoing for youth-led organizations. The struc-and open dialogue regarding manage- ture should at all times be positioned inment and problems that the Board of such a way that it will help in achievingDirectors need to attend to, as repre- your goals and objectives. To redefinesentatives of the employer. If an orga- your organizational structure and looknization has more than one staff per- at how internal processes are function- 29
  29. 29. ing, you may want to consider conduct-ing a SWOT analysis every few years.Whichever structure you choose, it isimportant that the members are awareof it. This will add to transparency indecision-making processes, which isessential for trust among members ofthe organization. The structure of yourorganization should make clear to ev-eryone who is responsible for what,who can be held accountable and whotakes on what role. Even though mem-bers may voluntarily be investing theirtime and energy, it is important to beheld accountable for your work.Be mindful that youth-led organiza-tions can become successful in veryshort periods of time and as such itis extremely important to keep yourfocus, prioritize and learn to say no.This counts for your activities but alsofor organizational growth. In building asustainable organization, it is beneficialto start with a core group of 10 peopleand expand gradually, rather than hav-ing 400 people carrying out projectsunder your organizational banner butnot actually sharing your values!30
  30. 30. ACTIVITIES: tions and fundraising) in youth-led or- ganizations might lean more towardsMAKING AN IMPACT the latter.Advocacy and lobby organizations tryto influence policy development and Advocacyadvance the implementation of exist-ing policies. There is a wide scope of Advocacy is crucial in realizing theactivities through which you can try development and adoption of moreand achieve your strategic plans. Ad- youth-friendly policies. There are avocating, networking and conducting variety of definitions of advocacy, how-trainings and workshops are some ever, the central and primary purposeexamples of activities that are applied of advocacy is ultimately to influenceby numerous advocacy organizations. policy, laws, regulations, programs, orAs you will find out, it is relatively easy funding priorities. Advocacy activitiesto join any of the ongoing campaigns and initiatives may be conducted at thestarted by other organizations. How- international, national, regional, or lo-ever, it is hard to see through the politi- cal level. In this way, advocacy is dif-cal agendas of the various stakehold- ferent from Information, Education anders and it can be quite overwhelming. Communication (IEC) which aims toTo realize your own organizational raise awareness among a certain tar-goals, you should therefore try to set get group. Effective advocacy requiresyour own agenda and be pro-active! solid knowledge of existing policiesThe process of agenda-setting will also and the politics in the ‘field’. It also re-help you in prioritizing your activities. quires strong negotiation and commu- nication skills. Successful advocatesYour organizational activities need to are able to communicate in a way thatbe aimed at particular policy changes. inspires others and motivates them toHowever, be aware that it is just as im- take action. Moreover, advocates areportant to ensure that your organiza- successful because the campaigns ortion has the internal capacity to support causes that they are advocating on be-these activities. Most of the activities half of are methodical and well planned.of ‘adult-led’ organizations will be out- An advocacy campaign is most effec-put activities, aimed directly at reach- tive when it is planned systematically.ing their objectives. In contrast, the As an organization, you should identifybalance between output activities and your issue, set advocacy goal(s) andcondition-shaping activities (such as objectives, identify sources of supportinternal capacity building, communica-
  31. 31. and opposition, research the policy ingful youth participation. One of theaudience, develop messages, mobi- barriers for policymakers not to includelize necessary funds, collect data and youth in the policymaking process ismonitor your plan of action.9 the assumption that young people lack the knowledge and experience toAs advocacy often plays out at meet- make informed and worthwhile con-ings and conferences, participation in tributions. To prove they are wrong,conferences can provide an excellent building awareness, knowledge andopportunity to reach policymakers and skills through training and workshopsnetwork with allies and funders, par- is essential. It means helping peopleticularly at regional and international to build knowledge and experience inlevels. Participating in conferences will the issues they want to advocate for.also enable you to establish your or- These can be your own members organization at the national, regional or people outside your organization, forinternational levels. In becoming rec- example members of a partner orga-ognizable, opportunities to work with nization. There are different ways ofdiverse constituencies, such as gov- building knowledge and skills: train-ernments and other NGOs will grow, ing, (access to) information and knowl-as will your ability to influence politics, edge, practicing, exploring and discus-policy and practice. Furthermore, it sion. Skill building programs are mostalso offers opportunities to extend your effective if they answer the needs ofnetwork and increase and improve col- participants. Also keep in mind that thelaboration with like-minded organiza- most effective way for people to learntions. Participation in meetings and is to actually practice things! So pay at-conferences does require extensive tention to the follow up of a training orpreparation beforehand, so be sure to workshop.have a strategy in place which will al-low you to identify persons of interestand key messages that you would like Networkingto bring across. To actually reach and influence policy- makers, you need allies! NetworkingTraining and workshops and establishing partnerships with oth- er organizations (which can be youthSkills and knowledge are key to mean- organizations, institutions, donors, net- works or any other relevant entity) are9 For more information about advocacy and how to setup advocacy campaigns, refer to the advocacy training essential to increasing your chancesmanual of the Policy Project in the additional resources.32
  32. 32. to receive more funding, broaden yourcontact base, and help you reach ar-eas or people you otherwise may nothave been able to. Start with the peo-ple and organizations you know, andbroaden your network by exploringtheir networks. You can, for example,start with exchanging information withrelevant stakeholders in the field ofSRHR in your country and/or take partin regional or global (youth) networks.Networking can also help you to makea link between the local and global pol-icy level. Networking is all about givingand taking. Think about what your or-ganization can provide other organiza-tions, for example knowledge and ex-perience or access to information or toa network (of young people). Dare toask other people for their knowledge,funding or access to their networks.When you establish partnerships, it isadvisable to establish clear terms ofreferences (TORs) that clearly set outthe roles and responsibilities of eachorganization and ensures that expec-tations are clear on both sides. Ulti-mately, working in partnership has tre-mendous potential to enrich your workand though it can be time consuming,it is certainly worth the extra effort. 33
  33. 33. COMMUNICATION AND in particular, selecting a name for your organization. This name should beBRANDING something that you feel comfortable with and ideally, it should personifyIn addition to developing a sound struc- your mission and be indicative of yourture and ensuring lasting impact of your organizational focus. Everyone affili-activities, an organization’s success is ated with your organization should feeljust as dependent on effective commu- proud to say the name. There is al-nication. Communication will raise the ways the possibility that over time, thevisibility of your issues, activities and organization’s name is no longer reflec-organisation. Communication however tive of its focus or misrepresents thatneeds to be organized, for example focus. In that case, it may be neces-by creating a communications strat- sary to change the name to somethingegy. Having a strategy in place will al- more accurate. This is not somethinglow you to better plan and understand that you should be afraid to consider,the situation, identify your goals and especially in the early stages of build-carry out your work. While developing ing your organization, however, keepa strategy, keep in mind the following in mind that changing your organiza-questions: tion’s name more than once can be detrimental as fewer and fewer people- What information do you want to follow you through the organizational convey and why? What are your ob- name changes. jectives?- What are your target groups (policy Internal communication largely de- makers, young people, NGO’s, do- pends on where your members live. nors, general public etc.) and what Are you able to meet face-to-face or do you think they will find most inter- only through chat, Skype or phone? esting? How often do you want to meet and- What are the most effective tools to with whom? Is it necessary to meet reach your target audience? with the whole group or just with the- How much time and resources (fi- people carrying out projects? These nancial/human) do you have avail- are all important questions and despite able to developing an strong com- what works best for you, it is highly ad- munications strategy? visable to have everyone together at least once or twice a year (if not moreIt is very possible that your organiza- often). In-person meetings are impor-tion will consider branding when cre- tant opportunities for members to getating a communications strategy, and34
  34. 34. motivated and energized as well as position of being able to communicateprovides an excellent environment to with many different worlds. It is there-share knowledge, learn, create new fore important to find your ‘unique sell-plans, and get inspired! An online tool, ing point’, your added value in the fieldsuch as an e-mail group, can be help- of SRHR and communicate this to theful for effective internal communication outside world.as it makes information available for alarge group of people and facilitates You also should decide on the lan-appropriate documentation. guage that will be used for communi- cation within your organization. WillExternal communication is a way to you use a local, national or internation-make your organization visible to the al language? This also depends on theoutside world and is necessary for capacity within your membership asadvocacy and fundraising. There are well as on the scope in which you workmany different ways of communicating as an organization. While this may ex-with the outside world and can include clude some or many great potentialbusiness cards, a website, newsletters, members and partners, it is essentialbrochures, banners, articles, t-shirts, for the effective and efficient workingetc. When you are in the early stages of your organization. Feel free to re-of establishing your organization, you visit this as and when required and bemay not have the financial resources flexible regarding the use of differentto produce some or any of these mate- languages in different contexts as therials. While helpful, it is not necessary. need arises and as is strategic.Resourcefulness and creativity go along way; you can use the internet,different online social networking web-sites, advertise your organization onother organizations’ websites, or useword of mouth! When reaching out toother people and organizations in youradvocacy efforts, you should be awareof the language you use and the imageyou are creating of your organization.The same language often does notapply, for example, in rural areas andwithin the United Nations. As a youthorganization, you are in the unique 35

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