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Guidelines for conducting development cooperation projects of syl
 

Guidelines for conducting development cooperation projects of syl

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    Guidelines for conducting development cooperation projects of syl Guidelines for conducting development cooperation projects of syl Document Transcript

    • THE NATIONAL UNION OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS IN FINLAND Guidelines for conducting development cooperation projects
    • Table of contents1. Introduction ................................................................................................................................................... 32. Choosing the partner ..................................................................................................................................... 43. Planning the project ...................................................................................................................................... 54. Funding decision ............................................................................................................................................ 55. Project cycle for follow-up and implementation........................................................................................... 56. Yearly follow-up cycle .................................................................................................................................... 67. Evaluation of the project ............................................................................................................................... 7 2
    • 1. IntroductionThe National Union of University Students in Finland (SYL) is an interest organization defendingand improving the benefits and rights of university students in Finland. SYL also has a long historyof development co-operation. By participating in such co-operation, SYL, according to its currentdevelopment co-operation strategy, endeavours to promote equality and human rights, to reducepoverty and to strengthen civil society, especially through education. It also maintains discussionon development issues among university students in Finland. SYLs development co-operation isimplemented by a part-time development co-operation coordinator, by an appointed member of theSYL executive board and by an advisory board consisting of voluntary representatives fromdifferent student unions.These guidelines for conducting development cooperation projects were drawn up primarily as atool for facilitating and improving the evaluation and reporting process of both SYL and its partnerorganizations. The objective of the guidelines is to enhance the continuity of the work and toprovide an outline of common practices in the reporting of projects with different partnerorganizations. The guidelines also encourage transparency in all communication, in addition toserving as a checklist when reporting back to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Finland.SYL receives most of the funding for its development projects from the MFA. The criteria for thefunding of development co-operation projects provided by the Ministry are that the project isimplemented by a Finnish non-governmental organization (NGO) in co-operation with a local(southern) NGO, and that 15% of the project’s budget has to be covered by self-financing by SYL.Half of the self-financing has to be in cash, while the other half can be covered by the value ofvoluntary work and equipment contributions. Support for the development project is granted for aperiod of one to three years at a time. The support is granted to SYL, which then transacts it to theparticular partner organization. SYL must report how the finances are used to the Ministry. (Formore details, please seethe Ministry for Foreign Affair’s Development co-operation manual for NGOs athttp://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=50603&nodeid=34673&contentlan=2&culture=en-US or follow the path: formin.finland.fi/english -> Development policy -> Subsidies and otherfunding -> NGOs -> A development co-operation manual for NGOs.)The implementation of the development co-operation projects of SYL and its partners follows thephases depicted in the diagram below. Each phase is described in more detail in the followingchapters. 3
    • 2. Choosing the partnerSYL expects the prospective partner organization to be motivated and committed to the quality andobjectives of the project in hand. The partner organization should work to improve the livingconditions of the most vulnerable members of the population. As a student organization, SYLplaces particular emphasis on projects related to education. The Advisory Board, KENKKU,evaluates the potential partners, after which SYL’s executive board makes the final decision.Furthermore, SYL follows the criteria defined by the MFA of Finland for selecting a new partnerorganization. According to these criteria, the partner organization has to be a registeredassociation with a well-functioning financial administration. More information about the criteria canbe found in the above-mentioned Development co-operation manual for NGOs. SYL also givesemphasis to the Guidelines for Civil Society in Development Policy in planning newprojects. (http://www.formin.fi/public/default.aspx?contentid=206482&nodeid=15452&contentlan=2&culture=en-US or follow the path: formin.finland.fi/english -> Development policy -> Publicationsand material -> Policies and guidelines -> Guidelines for civil society in development policy) 4
    • 3. Planning the projectSYL and the particular partner organization plan the project together based on the partner’ssuggestion. If possible, a preparatory trip to the target country is made in the early stage of projectplanning. SYL often uses Logical Framework Analysis (LFA) as a guiding tool in planning newprojects. A comprehensive background analysis is made of the project’s working environment.The beneficiary groups are defined and a needs analysis is undertaken together with thebeneficiaries. The objectives of the project are defined based on these analyses. The projectplan is then written jointly with the partner organization. The plan defines the aims of the projectand the activities that need to be undertaken to achieve them. Clear indicators are defined inorder to monitor whether change occurs. The budget is part of the project plan. All the activitiesmentioned in the narrative plan also need to be found in the budget. The sustainability of theproject’s results and the exit strategy are considered during the planning of the project.Throughout the project cycle, progress is evaluated in terms of the challenge of the sustainability ofthe achieved results after the co-operation has ended. For more details about the different phasesof project planning, please see the aforementioned Development co-operation manual for NGOs.4. Funding decisionAfter the application for a new project has been submitted to the MFA by the end of May eachyear, it takes approximately six months for the funding decision to be announced. If the partnerorganization is new and the project is not a continuation of a previous one, before the fundingdecision is made, a memorandum of understanding (also known as a letter of intent) is written,signed by both parties and attached to the application sent to the MFA. This is an agreement ofwhat the project will encompass if the MFA grants funding: an agreement made before the final co-operation agreement can be signed. The agreement should include basic information about theorganizations, basic project information, the objectives of the co-operation, a short description ofthe project activities, a short summary of the budget and a description of the expected schedule.The memorandum of understanding should also state that the project will only be realized oncondition that the MFA grants support.Once notification has been received from the MFA that the project funding has been approved,SYL will, in co-operation with the partner organization, draw up a co-operation agreement to besigned by the person/s responsible for the project in each organization. The MFA requires onecopy of the co-operation agreement to be sent to it, at the latest with the first annual report.Reporting practices are agreed on before the co-operation agreement is signed and are includedin the agreement.Quarterly reports are usually also included in the agreement and entail that the partner sendsboth a narrative and a financial report to SYL every three months.5. Project cycle for follow-up and implementationEach project is continuously monitored throughout the project cycle, so that both parties knowhow the project is proceeding and are able to see whether changes are called for. Both SYL andthe local partner will monitor the project through reports, informal communication and projectmonitoring trips, but this may differ depending on the project. SYL also expects feedback from 5
    • partner organizations in order to be able to develop its activities. The feedback may be given, forinstance, as part of the annual reporting process.SYL continuously communicates with the partner organization, for instance, by e-mail and Skype.The members of KENKKU and especially KENKKU’s country groups assist the coordinator incommunication. SYL and the partner organization communicate actively throughout the project inorder to form a good partnership. The indicators agreed upon at the beginning of the project arethe most important progress markers for both monitoring and evaluation.For each project, one important part of monitoring is the annual monitoring trip, where tworepresentatives from SYL visit the partner organization in the project country. At times, thismonitoring trip may be substituted by a visit by the partner organization to Finland, usually whenthe partnership has lasted more than one project. Before the monitoring trip, SYL will write anassignment so that both parties are clear and in agreement on what needs to be achieved duringthe visit, as well as the main issues to be addressed. This assignment will be sent to the partnerorganization as well. Each monitoring trip should also aim at evaluating the reciprocity of thepartnership. The participants of the trip will write a monitoring report to inform other members ofKENKKU, the executive board of SYL and the partner organization about the trip.Broader evaluations may be conducted at relevant stages of the project. Please see Chapter 7 formore information.6. Yearly follow-up cycleDuring the year, SYL evaluates the project and partnership by the following methods: 6
    • Annual reportThe MFA of Finland is the main donor and requires annual reporting on the project. The annualreport is the key tool for evaluation and SYL requests the project partner to submit it to SYL before15 February each year. The report is intended to give a comprehensive overview of the past year.It includes, among other things, a description of the actions that have been carried out during theyear and reporting on the projects finances. For more information about annual reports, see thewebsite of the MFA of Finland and the aforementioned Development co-operation manual forNGOs. SYL provides more detailed instructions on writing the annual report before the writingprocess begins.Quarterly reportsQuarterly reports are made by the partner organization and are intended for SYLs own use inorder to ensure that everything is running smoothly in the project. They are also a tool for thepartner organization and are intended to assist in the organization’s development. The aimof the quarterly reports is not only to see how the project is progressing, but also to ascertainpossible needs for change. The reports are to be handed in to SYL by the end of June and bythe end of October, respectively, and optionally also in January of each year.Evaluation of the partnershipIt is in the interest of both parties that the partnerships are as productive as possible. For thatreason, SYL requires an evaluation of the partnership. SYL asks that the actions of SYL as apartner organization and those of KENKKU as an administrative organ be evaluated. By receivingfeedback, positive and negative, SYL aims to improve its actions and make its organization abetter partner. The evaluation of SYL as a partner may be attached to the projects annual report.Feedback on the reportsSYL will give feedback on each report after having received and reviewed the report. It will informthe partner if improvement regarding reporting is required or if SYL has any new ideas aboutdeveloping the project.7. Evaluation of the projectEvaluations may be conducted at relevant stages of the project, for example, as a mid-termevaluation when SYL and the partner organization are planning to apply for funding for acontinuation project or as a final evaluation when objectives and results achieved by the projectneed to evaluated carefully to see what results have been achieved by the activities. There canalso be purposeful evaluations of a smaller project entity. The level of evaluation is tied to thecontext and should be developed within the progress of the projects.Evaluations are made to gain knowledge of the benefits of the project and its impact. It is importantto compile the lessons learned during the project and to form a more general understanding from itin order to take advantage in the future of the knowledge acquired. Evaluations also benefit thepartner organization by helping to improve its activities and they make it easier to find morepartners and donors. The evaluation may also include a reflection on the efficiency of the project.The evaluation can be written by SYL, the partner organization itself or an external body anddifferent methods of evaluation can be used. 7
    • As the aim of the evaluation is to assess the objectives and results of the project and as theevaluation is carried out during certain phases of the project, it differs from monitoring. The latterconcentrates more on continuous activity-level follow-up throughout the entire project cycle. 8