LEAD Asia equips development practitioners to secure funding

CoP and funding workshop participants benefitted from the opportunity to learn from each other's knowledge and experiences.

(April 2014) Development practitioners working in Asia had two recent opportunities to learn and collaborate with colleagues in the field through events organized by LEAD Asia in Bangkok, Thailand.

Community of Practice
The latest gathering of the LEAD Community of Practice (CoP) was held 26-28 March. LEAD CoP events introduce participants to tools and skills for effective leadership in their own contexts. Far from being a dry time of lectures, CoP participants are invited to explore a given topic through interactive sessions and guided discussions that provide an opportunity to share their own knowledge and experiences.

The most recent CoP event introduced some of the key issues in the process of securing funding for language, education and development activities. The choice of topic was motivated by the fact that funding for basic education in Asia is very limited compared to aid for other types of development, and the amount of aid available for minority ethnolinguistic communities is even more scarce. Participants had opportunities to learn about and share their experiences related to different funding options, such as:

  • Institutional funding, including funding from SIL’s partners
  • Funding from private donors
  • Government funding
  • Funding through contracting
  • Establishing a community fund


CoP participants discussed the education and development goals of the communities they work with and collaborated on strategies for funding the work needed to meet those goals.

At the end of each day, participants were given time to note their reflections on the day’s content. The last day also included time to reflect on what they had learned and what they wanted to do with that new information when they return to their normal place of work.

Insights from participants included:

“Monitoring and evaluation is an important chance to collect data about what is changing in communities and ‘talk back up’ the funding chain.”

“Funders have a vision too. You have to try to find a win-win.”

“Know your core competencies as an organization; don’t just take every opportunity.  Build an organizational reputation for delivering, and build competence through recruitment and professional development.”

“Private funding starts with a relationship of trust.”

“Community funding is not just a material discussion, it involves talking about values, ownership, stewardship, and sustainability. Be aware of the context and what business sense and market connections are needed.”

Training Workshop
Building on the information presented during the Community of Practice event, a workshop on funding was held 29 March-3 April. Six teams from four countries worked on project designs for their own communities. Participants came with a rough outline of a project proposal and worked with workshop facilitators to further develop it during the week.

The workshop helped participants gain skill in some of the key analysis and design components of a campaign to apply for institutional funding. The week was challenging for all involved, especially as teams worked through thoughts and plans such as how they envision change happening in their contexts and how they might be able to influence positive change through their projects.

In spite of the challenges, the teams were able to make good progress. Their project concepts addressed a wide range of development issues, including rights to education, building capacity for multilingual education (MLE), improving women’s literacy and strengthening civil society organizations for sustainable language development movements.

The workshop benefited from the collaboration of participants from different countries and organizations, as they shared ideas among the different teams. These kinds of discussions are central to an energized Community of Practice environment.

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