Relief Efforts Respond to 7.0 Earthquake
Already one of the poorest, most struggling countries in the world, Haiti was struck by a 7.0 earthquake in January 2010. The devastation left 316,000 lives lost and 1.3 million people displaced, unemployed, and homeless. The natural disaster put the country in dire need of the relief aid and workers that responded.
But two years later, the aid that actually made it there was often not being directed as effectively as it could be. The only major foundation with a specific Haiti program and strategy is W. K. Kellogg Foundation (whose program also funds large international NGOs). They do so to recognize the importance of working with Haitians in defining a vision for their communities, to focus on building the capacity of local organizations to achieve their mission, and to help develop and train organizations’ leaders.
Recruit Every Educational Resource
As an NGOsource member, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation discovered NGOsource’s mission and our ED experts and saw an opportunity for us to add value in Haiti — on the ground, in person.
So on June 21, NGOsource senior counsel Meghan Hanson boarded flight 1070 and flew more than 10 hours to land the next day at Aéroport international Toussaint Louverture in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Her purpose: to join the foundation’s team at a grantees' meeting including leaders of grassroots efforts supported by the foundation.
They were to offer training and tools to foster and build the capacity of local organizations, to develop local leaders, and to instruct them on international grants and funding — so that these leaders can, with solid funding, successfully operate and expand programs that work in local communities, programs that solve their problems, with solutions identified by local people who live through them every day.
ED Workshop for NGOs
As part of the foundation’s week-long meetings June 22–26, representatives of NGOs and grassroots groups attended a workshop taught by Meghan on equivalency determination (ED). She started by explaining what ED is and why it’s important.
She also held technical assistance sessions to provide hands-on guidance for each grantee to learn how to become equivalent to a U.S.-based public charity. Meghan put together an ED toolkit that attendees could use to work through a future ED application. She also walked through specific cases to outline the analysis that goes into qualifying for an ED certificate.
Why This Is So Important: Direct Funding = Empowerment
Preparing Haiti-based organizations for ED can help address a critical deficiency in the Haitian development efforts. Becoming certified as equivalent to a U.S. public charity makes it easier for Haitian NGOs to receive direct international grants from U.S. funders.
In the past, much of the funding that U.S. grantmakers have sent to Haiti has targeted large multinational NGOs and intermediaries, with little granted directly to local organizations. As a result, the 2010 earthquake relief effort is said to have too often “excluded Haitians from their own recovery.”
Meanwhile, direct funding of Haitian NGOs by U.S.-based grantmakers has been relatively modest. According to Foundation Center data, in 2012, only 12 U.S. grantmakers made grants to local organizations, 65 grants totaling less than $2.7 million in funding. Among major U.S. foundations, W. K. Kellogg Foundation was by far the most active.
EDs, Direct Funding In-Country, and Building Civil Society
NGOsource is a key tool that can help increase direct funding to local NGOs. Performing equivalency determinations on Haitian NGOs, and making those EDs available to other grantmakers through NGOsource, has the potential to increase Haitian NGOs’ access to direct funding from U.S.-based foundations.
When local NGOs receive direct funding they are more likely to target locally relevant programs and specific issues, and they tend to be more knowledgeable about implementation — resulting in greater opportunities to build civil society as a whole.
ED funding also has the distinct advantage of being able to support general operating expenses and capital expenditures that may last beyond the grant period. So these efforts can be sustained over time to complete their work and adapt to changing circumstances. This enables grassroots NGOs to develop operational models that are increasingly free of dependence on any one particular donor and to complete the work they start.
By centralizing EDs and streamlining the ED process, by doing EDs on NGOs within a country, NGOsource supports direct investment — to help grantmakers make their grants most effective, and to ultimately serve the people who have a local perspective to solve problems themselves. We welcome every opportunity to do so through collaborative training like Meghan’s work in Haiti. If you are interested in working together on ED training for NGOs, or have any questions about NGOsource, contact us anytime.
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