The Civil Society and Testing Change project started with an exploration I undertook of what initiatives were being taken to help NGOs stay relevant in a rapidly changing environment, and where the ‘gaps’ might be to add value, and an important piece of the puzzle. The initial project concept – to bring together diverse global working groups to help lead NGOs develop and test new ideas over a multi-year period – came out of these wide-ranging discussions. I created a Steering Group to further develop the project concept. The group held video calls meetings which focused on (1) The project’s design; (2) Outreach to other partners; and (3) Modeling collective learning. We wanted the project to be holistic – simulating the environment civil society leaders live in on a daily basis and not issues specific, and organic – vested in how leaders and organizations would need to navigate multi-year efforts. There were a lot of initiatives around ‘change’ but a gap seemed to be multi-year testing, adapting and learning.
As the focus would be multi-year testing, it was important to have a lead organization to test some new ideas. We eventually decided to start with one issue area working group to demonstrate the process we were piloting. This first issue was youth engagement (led by CIVICUS). We later added impact assessment and then new approaches to leadership.
My roles as the project founder and manager have included (1) Reaching out to other groups and initiatives to help identify new partners and information to inform the Testing Change project’s work; (2) Presenting initial ideas to the Steering Group and working groups to continue to keep their focus on significant operational changes; (3) Designing strategies and (4) Facilitating the Steering Group and co-facilitating work groups with work group lead organizations.
This project included assistance with:
- Program development
- Process facilitation
- Facilitation of multi-stakeholder groups
“Bonnie has been instrumental in co-creating and shepherding this process together with a diverse group of global stakeholders. Without her perseverance the project would not have reached fruition and accomplished what it has. Participants (all senior level leaders) have noted the importance of shared learning, space to reflect and having peers and partners outside of their traditional networks doing similar work, all to have been benefits to being involved with the project, and important to strengthening their own work as change leaders.”