President's Report to the Global Board
Mary Ellen McNish, President and CEO
To view the Program Country reports to the Global Board of Directors from April 2011, use the links at the bottom of this page.
I am pleased to present this report to the Global Board updating you on our organizational work together since October 2010. These past six months have seen drastic improvements in terms of our global staff coming together as one team, the formation of global task forces that are creatively exploring ways to streamline our work, improved communications flow among all stakeholders, more opportunities for best practice sharing and learning across the organization, the formulation of new policies to further clarify our processes, progress in our impact assessment work and, of course, not least, in our programmatic work to end hunger in Africa, South Asia and Latin America.
Though we do face many challenges, especially in turning around our decline in fundraising from the past few years, we have much optimism for the year ahead. I look forward to leveraging the strategic opportunities of new fundraising positions within the Global Office team, the enormously successful launch of World Hunger Day and the 2011 Africa Prize.
Highlights of Achievements
- In December 2010, THP-Burkina Faso was honored in a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Ouagadougou with the medal of "Chevalier de l'Ordre National" or "Knight of the National Order." This medal carries great national importance, as it demonstrates THP's ever-rising leadership among the country's NGOs devoted to the service of rural populations.
- In February, THP welcomed a new Country Director in Uganda, Daisy Owomugasho. Daisy is a former lecturer at Uganda’s prestigious Makerere University in Kampala, and has also served as Executive Director at the African Women’s Economic Policy Network and at the Uganda Debt Network. We are proud to welcome Daisy to the THP team!
- During his November 2010 visit to the Expo on Democracy and Open Government at Xavier’s College in Mumbai, India U.S. President Barack Obama met THP-India Country Director Rita Sarin and Sarmi Bai, a THP-trained elected woman representative serving as president of her panchayat (village council) in Rajasthan.
- THP-India was honored as winner of the EdelGive Social Innovation Honours (ESIH) 2011 in the category of Governance for its work strengthening women's participation in government. In addition to the awareness generated by the announcement, a cash prize was awarded in the amount of US$112,500. The ESIH awards raise awareness of issues surrounding women and girl children by supporting organizations with path-breaking approaches to these challenges.
- THP-Bangladesh forged working partnerships with BRAC, the largest NGO in the world,for implementing a pilot project, “Social Mobilization and Accountable Local Governance towards Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Four Unions,” and HYSAWA (Danish-funded Hygiene, Sanitation and Water) program to improve sanitation and ensure safe drinking water in 11 unions.
- In December, THP-Bangladesh hosted an Animator Reunion which gathered 12,000 THP animators from across the country. All the animators paid their own transportation and other expenses, including a registration fee.
- THP-Mexico is gaining a very high national profile through Country Director Lorena Vázquez’s participation in “Iniciativa Mexico,” which brings together the two major TV networks with the largest media networks in the country, academia and private sector. Its goal is to generate a powerful new interpretation on Mexico through the acknowledgement of civil society initiatives to improve society at all levels. Since the Initiative was launched in June 2010, there has been regular presence of THP-Mexico on national TV in primetime that has given THP-Mexico significant exposure in the country.
THP has been working closely with the consulting firm ActKnowledge to enhance our global monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system. Through the development of national Theory of Change (TOC) maps, each Program Country worked to capture benchmarks for success that are aligned with THP’s global vision of empowering rural communities. Significant progress has also been made in the development of program outcome indicators to further strengthen the M&E system and demonstrate near-term impact of THP programs worldwide.
Advocacy and Influence
Since the October Board Meeting, a global Advocacy Task Force has been established with the primary objective of empowering our Program Countries to gain voice in country-led strategies, and a secondary objective of engaging with international policy forums that could support our policies. Our influence and profile in the international community has continued to grow, and THP leaders have been invited speakers at international conferences in Rome, Mumbai, New Delhi, Argentina, Ecuador, Spain, New York and Washington during this period.
World Hunger Day
On Sunday, January 9, we kicked off a new year of action with THP’s first annual World Hunger Day. THP-UK organized a gala concert featuring international singing star Dionne Warwick and an all-star lineup including Natalie Cole, Elaine Paige and Mica Paris. The performance included the full orchestra of the Southbank Sinfonia, a group of professional young musicians from all over the world, as well as the London Community Gospel Choir and more. All in all, more than 100 performers and 2,000+ guests celebrated at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London.
The event received thousands of dollars worth of in-kind sponsorships and media coverage, including the theatre, sound set and lighting, all of the leading performers, advertising in The Times, The Guardian, The Metro andEvening Standard, and all of the design and printing of event materials.
Media coverage included an article in The Times (London) and coverage on BBC News, BBC2, ITV1, CNN and BBC Radio London. World Hunger Day was one of four main headlines on BBC Breakfast and BBC News 24 (the UK’s global 24/7 news channel), which included a 10-minute interview with Country Director Tim Holder and musical performer Mica Paris. During the week prior, chef and television personality Jamie Oliver retweeted about World Hunger Day and as a result, we became one of the world's top 20 trending topics on Twitter (and fifth in the UK).
I offer my heartfelt congratulations to the entire team in the UK, led by the creative and energetic Tim Holder, and to all the global staff who participated. THP-UK has really catapulted THP into a different stratosphere. Now the team is busy following up on all of the progress made, and discussions are already underway to make World Hunger Day into a global campaign for 2012.
Given the deficit with which we finished the year 2010, fundraising is one of our biggest challenges for the upcoming year. I feel that our performance in 2010 was part of the past transition of leadership, and that we are now moving forward with much vigor. We have a much clearer idea of funds to be raised in 2011 and are very confident that we will be successful in meeting our 2011 budget, particularly with the three new fundraising positions that will be hired and our newly created Advancement Division that will bring communications and development work closer together.
While we were dismayed that we have gone from receiving four to three from the rating agency Charity Navigator, we know that it is due to our reduced income and that we most likely won’t see a change in the coming year as well (this three-star rating is based on 2009 income). The three-star rating still means that we exceed or meet industry standards and perform as well as or better than most charities in our Cause.
Fall Event 2011: Africa Prize
The 2011 Fall Event, which will be held on Saturday, October 22, 2011, will include the awarding of the 2011 Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger. The Africa Prize jury is in place, and nominations for the Prize opened on March 31 and close on May 31.
Our goal is to have 600 people attend the event, and we have begun an earlier concerted campaign to gain corporate sponsorship for the event. One corporate sponsor has already been secured. A series of meetings will take place surrounding the event, including of the Global Board, Partner Country Advisory Council, investor meetings, and Global Staff meetings.
These and other opportunities will allow us to continue to build on our current upward momentum. I look forward to more frequent visits with our Partner Countries and my scheduled visits to Uganda, Ghana and Malawi later this year. I, of course, will continue to ensure that we are one organization working to end hunger and poverty.