Diaspora organisations (DOs) are increasingly keen to professionalise their operations. Professionalisation is the process through which an organisation implements systems or processes and develops critical skills and knowledge to increase its efficiency and effectiveness. It can bring many benefits to a DO including further recognition, access to partnerships, funding and – ultimately – making further impactful change.
At EUDiF, we have observed the appetite of DOs to professionalise in the recommendations resulting from our series of diaspora consultations across Europe, as well as during applications for technical assistance via the Capacity Development Lab. These recommendations and requests highlighted recurrent needs in enhancing governance structures, project management, fundraising and network building, amongst other areas.
This page is based on the “Learning by doing” dossier in which we reflect on insightful practices from our actions that empower diaspora organisations.
Read on for a précis, or download the publication for the complete reflection.
Professionalisation is a continuous process that changes as the vision and goals of a DO change. It takes careful understanding of a DO’s vision and objectives before deciding which processes may benefit from professionalisation – and therefore where capacity development could help. It helps to assess the extent to which a DO should modify – if at all – its structure and ways of working.
It is critical to underline that all DOs can deliver services in a professional manner, whether they operate through formal or informal structures, and with different systems and resources. Indeed, DOs working within less formal or ad hoc structures are very common and succeed in implementing impactful initiatives.
Over one fifth of requests for EUDiF capacity development were for professionalisation, making it the most requested area of support!
A skills audit is a useful first step to identify professionalisation aims. EUDiF has tools available for this!
Although each DO is unique, all share common areas to consider in the process of professionalisation: governance & leadership, project management, partnerships, membership, finance and human resources.
Through our activities, we have developed a strong understanding of the following key categories of professionalisation, whilst acknowledging that several other areas (such as knowledge management or communications) are also critical to expand the work and impact of an organisation.
Governance & leadership
Structures and decision-making processes and the ability to set and meet objectives
Models, tools and knowledge to implement activities
Processes and capacities to network, and build and maintain effective partnerships
Approaches to recruit, manage and engage diaspora members and grow valuable connections
Systems and capacities to secure and manage funding
Capacities of the staff and volunteers running the daily operations of the DO and HR processes
In two actions with DOs, we explore governance & leadership and project management. In Spain with Africa 2.0 we looked at governance and leadership, whilst in France we partnered with FORIM on project management. Why did we focus on these areas?
Good governance and leadership ensures a DO stays true to its vision, maintains trust internally and externally and motivates staff and members through sound organisational development. Organisational development has to do with the organisation’s effectiveness and performance. It builds on problem solving skills, leadership, daily management, governance structures, operating procedures, accountability, and control.
In terms of project management, implementation that centres monitoring and learning results in strategies and interventions that are more effective. Enhancing project management skills in project design and development, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and learning is therefore a powerful step in professionalisation.
The way we worked on these topics is as valuable as the topics themselves, because of the vital role of using diaspora expertise through peer and cascade learning to ensure the best learning outcomes possible.
FORIM’s diaspora network representatives celebrate the end of the training journey
Group discussions during the activities with FORIM
Grace Obado from Africa 2.0 Spain shares her thoughts on organisational aims
Onyekachi Wambu of AFFORD facilitating a workshop with Africa 2.0 Spain’s core team