A year in the life of a small not-for-profit

| July 18, 2018

We all know how quickly a year can go by but we rarely give ourselves time to pause and take stock of significant milestones and achievements other than through rounds of mandatory reporting.

Small not-for-profits are perennially busy and striving altruistically to uphold visions, objectives and standards set by Boards, funders and themselves. Success comes in many forms and at many levels, but the capacity to recognise and celebrate even the smallest achievement is crucial to both internal staff members and external stakeholders. If what we do is not important, then why do we do what we do?

The International Centre of Democratic Partnerships (ICDP) has just turned one. It was incorporated on 18 July 2017 on a model designed by the institute for active policy Global Access Partners (GAP) following detailed consultations with its members, stakeholders, supporters and expert groups and two years of research on the region.

The model is grounded in GAP’s multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to problem-solving and its experience in facilitating policy dialogue, fostering long-lasting stakeholder relations and implementing practical projects. GAP also has a global network of over 3,500 individuals and organisations across a broad range of fields and sectors.

The ICDP is an independent, non-profit, non-political organisation that encourages and facilitates dialogue, discussions and better relationships between current and emerging Pacific and Australian leaders in government, academia, civil society and the private sector around common challenges.

The ICDP began implementing Pacific Connect on 1 October 2017. Pacific Connect is a two-year pilot program announced by Prime Minister Turnbull at the 48th Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa on 8 September 2017. Pacific Connect works with local leadership to identify opportunities, individuals and coalitions for engagement under a theme of ‘Australia-Pacific Connections for the Digital Future’.

So what has been achieved by the ICDP nine months into this new and exciting journey to create long-term, enduring relationships between Australia and the Pacific?

Of course ‘long-term and enduring’ cannot be applied to a nine month time-frame but the building of  foundations and linkages for new bonds between the Pacific and Australia is well underway.  As far as outputs go, positive progress has been made by identifying and engaging with over 40 emerging Pacific leaders; undertaking 9 productive trips to 5 Pacific countries; holding 2 formal dialogues and organising 2 additional workshops.

The jointly proposed projects emerging from these discussions range from using blockchain solutions to track sustainable supply chains in PNG to a virtual reality immersive story-telling scheme in Samoa.  A “teach the teacher” online course for Pacific tertiary institutions in Online Education is being developed, with a particular emphasis in mobile devices; and an annual forum in Australia will be held to help young Pacific Island leaders broaden their networks.

ICDP’s approach is embodied in its team of highly-connected individuals and their work to bring key leaders together from Australia and the Pacific. The reputation of the ICDP’s Board and Pacific Connect Network partners, along with key support from Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT), has been instrumental to Pacific Connect’s progress and successes so far.

The team’s initial trips into the Pacific to generate dialogues and activities have developed a strong framework to build effective long-term relationships and broader networks for the future.

The ICDP benefits from the commitment, motivation and enthusiasm of a small group of like-minded but diverse people who have been enriched through working with committed, motivated and enthusiastic Pacific Islanders. Perhaps it can’t be formally categorised as an output or achievement but it certainly provides a strong reason to keep doing what we do.

Happy birthday, ICDP!

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Tina Briggs

Tina Briggs is the programme coordinator for the International Centre for Democratic Partnerships.  She has extensive experience in project management across government, private, and not for profit sectors and has worked in international development with the Kenyan and Botswanan Red Cross.