October 2008: President's Report to the Global Board of Directors - Appendix 1
Departmental Highlights of Achievements
Against the context of these enormous challenges, we can be very proud of our achievements around the world. These are detailed below by department:
I. Fundraising - A Year of Challenge and Achievement
As of September 30, 2008:
- $7.7M raised in the US compared to last year's results of $8.3 at this time.
- $ 4.8M raised from Partner Countries towards their target for the year of $5.5
- Planned Giving Commitments in the US grown to $9.7M, from $3M at the start of 2008.
2008 saw significant challenges for US fundraising, including the financial crisis, economic downturn and retirement of a senior fundraiser. Important points to note are:
- Revenues raised from our core investor base continue to be largely in the form of "unrestricted" funding; this supports The Hunger Project's abilities to remain innovative and uniquely creative in our approach to programs.
- Although the current situation has meant that US revenues are not as high as anticipated at the start of the year, our fundraising has been relatively successful compared to many other US based NGOs, thanks to the loyalty of our investors.
- We have received our first corporate commitment to underwrite an epicenter at $500K.
- The family of our much loved deceased high level investor is to honor her entire 2008 pledge, including a multi-year component - a total commitment of $530K.
- Relationships are being built by our Bay activists with staff of three large companies: Symantec, Cisco and IBM.
- We have recruited a seasoned and successful corporate fundraiser for the US.
Partner Country Fundraising
2008 has seen a continuation of impressive revenue growth:
- Institutional funding continues to grow: $2.8M raised from institutions, 18% up from last year.
- Australia recently obtained tax-exemption status.
- The Netherlands, Sweden and the UK are all working with public relations agencies pro bono to place The Hunger Project among entrepreneurial business people.
II. Finance and Administration - Budgets, Staff, Governance, Technology
In mid-2008, a comprehensive budget review was conducted in anticipation of the adverse impact of the worsening economic crisis. The emphasis in the review was to save on non-program expenses to maintain our commitment to meet program budgets. In September, management recommended to the Audit and Finance Committee of the Board that the revised budget be accepted as expenses $16.6 million, with revenues estimated to be $15 million. Since then, there has been some further decline in revenues.
We have recruited our first Human Resources and Culture Manager, Chenisa Shannon. Chenisa is from Liberia, and previously worked as a Human Resources Generalist Manager for a prominent financial company and has expertise in policy development and implementation, performance development, compensation policy, recruitment and employee relations. She was drawn to The Hunger Project because of her personal experience in the civil war in Liberia and the work The Hunger Project is doing for women in Africa.
Our new intranet is being developed as a collaborative effort of several departments: Finance & Administration, Fundraising and Communications. The Intranet will be a major tool in helping us build a "one team" approach globally. Latest in-country activities and updates, procedures, manuals and other information will be more easily and efficiently shared across functions and countries helping us become more effective and integrated across the world.
Governance responsibilities were transferred to the Finance and Administration department. Not-for-profit governance is receiving increased scrutiny. For example, the 2008 US tax form now includes a section on ‘Governance, Management, and Disclosures' policies and procedures. The Finance and Administration department has developed and recommended new governance policies and committee charters for the Global Board's consideration. Our goal is improved transparency, greater clarity and the implementation of governance practices that enhance organizational operations and meet new regulatory standards.
Governance has also been a major focus in relationships with the Partner Countries. At the April Meeting, the Board authorized the creation of a new Partner Country Advisory Council (PCAC) as a formal representative mechanism for some Partner Country input into strategy, budget and policies. One of the first priorities has been the development of a Partnership Agreement (formerly the Charter Agreement, not revised since 1986). Our goal had been to have this ready for this Board Meeting. Despite energy, effort and commitment by all concerned, we may not achieve this date although good progress has been made. Our intention now is to complete the Agreement, update the Standards and Practices Document and draft a Terms of Reference for the PCAC for the approval of the Board at a future meeting as a consolidated package.
III. Communications and Research - A New Focus to Build on our Success
Under the restructure, a new department called Research and Communications has been created to place greater emphasis on the overall positioning of The Hunger Project, communication (both internal and external), management of our reputation and the provision of high quality research to assist us be seen as an authoritative voice on issues of hunger, poverty and women's empowerment.
Reputation Management is an essential element going forward. We will seek to enhance and defend The Hunger Project's reputation, and seek wider recognition for our work. Tactics include: representation at conferences; participation in international gatherings; promoting The Hunger Project on various websites; performing due-diligence reports prior to entering new partnerships for funding and programs; and rapid response to adverse or damaging communications made against The Hunger Project and its work.
Communications (external and internal): As mentioned previously, we have just re-designed and launched our public website to reach newer audiences and communicate our work more effectively. We are disseminating electronic monthly newsletters to investors and members of the development community. New and fresh formats for printed publications are being designed (Annual Report and quarterly fundraising appeals). Our internal communications strategy includes: implementation of communications plans for internal initiatives; and a weekly CEO message to staff and key leadership in the organization.
As part of our media strategy, we are leveraging every opportunity to promote the issues that will advance our work by: training our staff to give better media interviews; writing and placing letters to the editors, articles and statements in prominent publications and development manuals; and writing proposals for awards and recognitions.
IV. Africa Department - Growing Success for our Epicenter Strategy
Our work in Africa is progressing well. The Epicenter Strategy is an integrated rural development program, which includes a microfinance component, designed to support the rural populations in Africa to achieve the MDGs, and hence achieve the sustainable end of hunger and poverty on a self-reliant basis. The Epicenter Strategy is currently implemented in 120 cluster villages in eight African countries where an estimated population of over three million people now have the possibility to meet their own basic needs.
The ultimate goal of this strategy is to empower our rural partners to achieve self-reliance within five years. From these 120 clusters, we now have 18 epicenters that are self-reliant, where the communities are working with their resources to meet their own basic needs.
The recent food shortage around the world led to a serious crisis in developing countries, and in Africa in particular. Our development strategy has proven to protect our partners from being affected by severe hunger by ensuring food security. Under the strategy, rural partners produce their staple grain at the communal land at the epicenter, coupled with the food grain that members bring to the food bank to have food available in the lean season.
This strategy has proven to be replicable in all countries where we work, and is now in the process of being scaled up in the Eastern Region of Ghana, thanks to our partnership with the Robertson Foundation. The scale-up work is now in its third year and, to date, has delivered all elements of the agreement.
The three pillars of this strategy, namely:
- the mobilization of the communities for self-reliant action through Vision, Commitment, Action workshops;
- the empowerment of women; and
- the strengthening of the partnership with local governments
are now an integral part of the life at all epicenters.
To these three pillars, we have added three new critical interventions. These are:
- Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of our impact;
- fundraising locally; and
- creating partnerships and alliances with local NGOs, UN specialized agencies, local governments and other relevant organizations.
Three of our Country Directors will brief the Board on their work:
- Dr. Dicko: on partnerships with local governments and other agencies in Burkina Faso
- Dr. Naana: on Scale up work in Ghana
- Rowlands: on HIV/AIDS work in Malawi
Specific achievements include:
- Between June 2007 - June 2008, our African Woman Food Farmer Initiative (AWFFI) issued loans to a total of 9,171 women partners across all 8 program countries. During this period, a total amount of US$748,658 has been disbursed, with a loan size averaging $58. This does not include the loans that have been disbursed by the 18 government-recognized rural banks.
- Forty new epicenters are being mobilized, one epicenter, Beterou in Benin, has entered the construction phase, while one additional epicenter, Champiti in Malawi has reached phase 3. During this period, eight epicenters have also inaugurated their epicenter buildings: Zakpota (Benin), Sapouy, Vy (Burkina Faso), Mesqan (Ethiopia), Kyeremase, Supriso, Odumase (Ghana) and Kiruhura (Uganda).
V. Strategy and Impact - New Areas of Emphasis
Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E): New participatory M&E programs have been implemented in India and Bangladesh, and a solid body of data has been collected. Specialist M&E officers have been recruited in each of our African countries and progress is being made on training local animators to collect data at the grassroots level. An organization wide review of our M&E work has been conducted and, meetings have been organized with all country directors following the Board Meeting to begin creating more awareness and understanding of our M&E approach, including agreeing a core set of indicators aligned to the MDGs across all programs. The data being collected is being used to make improvements in our programs on the ground and is also beginning to populate our specialist intranet, giving us access to this data at the corporate level.
Theory of Change: An important element of both M&E and Strategic Planning has been to develop a formal "theory of change", a unified framework that accurately describes all our programs. This work fulfills a long-standing goal of a powerful means of communicating our strategies in Asia and Latin America with the same clarity we are able to describe our Epicenter Strategy in Africa.
India: Our programs in India have continued to gain attention and support from leaders both within and outside India. We have new partnerships with the Ford Foundation and the Environmental Defense Fund. We have just celebrated on October 2 the eighth annual Sarojini Naidu Prize for Best Reporting on Women and Panchayat Raj. India's Finance Minister was the chief guest, and the President of the Congress Party, Mrs. Sonya Gandhi, met with a group of our Elected Women Representatives trained by The Hunger Project.
Bangladesh: Our program in Bangladesh continues to thrive at the grassroots level, despite the continuing political turmoil. While many of the democratic reforms we have worked for are now on hold until after Parliamentary elections, one extremely important ordinance has been adopted - a Right to Information Law (RTI). RTI has been an extremely important tool for grassroots people in India to fight corruption, and we are working to ensure it is put to similar use in Bangladesh.
Mexico: Last year we reorganized our program in Mexico to make it more "scaleable" - namely, that we now train the trainers of other organizations to lead our VCA workshops and animator trainings. This shift is beginning to bear fruit - increasing the number of animators four-fold in one month. I will travel to Mexico in November - my first visit to The Hunger Project's work in Latin America.
Peru: During this period, our partners in Chirapaq hosted the first South America Forum of Indigenous Women Leaders, and also hosted our first Investor Leadership Trip to Peru.
Bolivia: Violent opposition has broken out in opposition process underway of writing a new constitution guaranteeing indigenous rights. Our partners at ACLO have been among those targeted in this violence, and some staff have been attacked but none seriously injured. Meanwhile, ACLO continues to meet all its programmatic milestones.