Blogging From Global Pulse 2010, pt. 1

Right now I am among more than 1000 people taking place in a 72 hour long online global discussion called Global Pulse 2010.
What is Global Pulse?  Essentially it is a collaboration event to bring together individuals and organizations who are doing work in or have an interest in the developing world. If that sounds like it applies to you, get the heck off my blog and go to now to join in the discussion.
I’m not participating as a blogger and it’s not why I’m here – I’m here representing one of my non-profits, Big Love Little Hearts, whose work takes place entirely in the developing world – but now that I’m here I want to blog about it because it’s awe inspiring!

The discussions going on here are lively and filled with the brightest of minds in various sectors connected to the developing world. I have spent the most time in two groups: Promoting Global Health and Building Stronger Partnerships as these are both central to what Big Love Little Hearts does. I am more than impressed by the ideas and passion of the participants in these groups!
*As a participant I agreed to rules that do not allow me to divulge who my conversations have been with or the exact content of them other than my own words. All content from Global Pulse 2010 is property of USAID, even my own posts, although I have permission to repeat them here as the author.

Following a post I made in reply to a thread in the Promoting Global Health forum I was asked if I leveraged partnerships with organizations local to our work in individual developing countries to help fill service gaps and if so could I share some best practices. This is my response…
Partnering with Other Organizations 02:22 AM UTC Mar 29, 2010

Thanks xxxxx!

Partnering with other organizations and agencies is primarily how Big Love Little Hearts achieves our mission. Even now as we are setting up a country program in the Philippines, we are doing so in partnership with two other organizations.

My best advice and best practices are:

Research: Invest time learning about what other organizations are doing in your cause field, both specific and broad (ex. in my case, congenital heart defects specifically and global health broadly) and where they’re doing it. Then invest some more time learning about what completely unrelated NPO’s, NGO’s and agencies are doing in the part of the world you’re working in. Lack of a unified and central database to access this information makes this an endless task, so spend a little bit of time each day doing it. [calling again for some division of our government to take this project on]

Practice Patience: You have an urgent case and you need help from another organization. You contact them, a couple days go by, you don’t hear from them so you contact them again. With marked impatience. Of course your needs are vital to you,  just like the needs of the organization you’re contacting are vital to them. Which means at least momentarily, they’re more important than yours. When you’re the one who needs the partnership more try to take that attitude with you into every interaction.

Listen: To that end, listen to what their needs may be, what their limitations are, and for strengths & services you might not have known they had. Always try to collaborate and partner in a way that benefits both organizations instead of being a drain of one and a boost to the other.

Ask: Ask for everything you hope to achieve with their help, and if they can’t help you ask them if they know who can. I can’t stress this enough. Not everyone volunteers information, even volunteers!

Be Flexible: Especially when partnering with other organizations to fill service gaps, flexibility is key. Don’t close the door on a potential partner just because they can’t help you in the exact way you envisioned this time around. They might be a tremendous partner in the future!

Have An Army of Volunteer Translators: Most of my best practices are really principles of good communication. If you don’t speak the language of the country you’re doing work in, make sure you have on-call translator to ensure what you’re trying to communicate is being understood correctly and that you understand what is being said back to you. All of the above are useless if language is a barrier.

I hope that helps, xxxxx – I’m certainly no expert but it’s been a part of my daily experience for years.

content category: Best practices & lessons learned


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