FUND RAISING FOR MISSION
A TRAINING ON PROJECT MANAGEMENT
From 15th October to 26th October 2017, the Society of the Missionaries of Africa organized a training on project management for the provinces of SAP, EAP, Ghana/Nigeria and the Sections of EPO and SOA in Namugongo, Uganda. Twenty six (26) confreres participated in the workshop. The facilitators were Richard Bock and Claudia Grot from Germany, Tony Baaladong our Treasurer General and PJ Cassidy from Ireland. Though the training was on project management, the emphasis was more on IGPs (Income Generating Projects) because it is a new territory on which the Society is embarking.
Why learn about project management anyway?
“We are apostles and nothing but apostles”. But we know very well that in order to carry out our apostolic works as missionaries we need some funds. Of course these funds can come from different sources such as benefactors, the pensions of confreres, parishes and other ministries, special collections, and other funding agencies. Now, the reality on the ground shows us that these traditional ways of fund raising are no longer enough and so we need to be more creative and inventive in finding new ways of raising funds for mission. That is why the idea of IGPs came up and we have to take it seriously and this needs some skills on project management.
Given the hard and bitter lessons of the recent past in some projects, it is becoming imperative that as a society we all need skills and guidance on project management. We need these skills in order to move from the traditional way of doing things into the professional and more accountable way of doing things. This means that we need guidelines and that is why the Society came up with the booklet containing these guidelines for Income Generating Projects (IGPs). During our training in Namugongo, we went through the booklet in order to understand these guidelines and how to apply them in the contexts of each province and section.
One has to clearly say that IGPs are a new territory for the Society of the Missionaries of Africa and that is why there is a need to consider all aspects before the implementation of any project, to identify the risks and how they can be managed, quality control and ongoing processes.
How to go about IGPs then?
In order to embark on IGPs, one of the ways discussed in Namugongo is to establish what is called Development Committees’ (DC) at the level of each province and sector. In this way, any potential project of the Missionaries of Africa will have to be studied and scrutinized by the Development Committee at the sector and provincial level before being sent to Rome or to donors.
It was also felt that there is a need to have one development coordinator at the level of the Society who would oversee the fund raising for development and pastoral projects of confreres. He would be also the person who would be a link between the donors and the provinces and sectors and help in the follow up of the Society’s projects.
Another important element is that at every stage of the project (from conception to implementation to operation), there has to be team work and collaboration. We are moving from a “one-man show” mentality to group or team work. The Society no longer condones individual or personalized projects. We have to do projects as a community and in that way we can be sure that there will be collective longterm ownership with more transparency and accountability. All this has to be done through communication and open dialogue from the community, sector and province and with different stakeholders.
The other element is that for any IGP, the new Project Management guidelines have to be applied strictly. That is why they are there to help us at every stage of the project (initial Concept Paper, ‘Go for plan’, ‘Go for project’, implementation, operation, monitoring & evaluation etc.).
What will we gain from applying the New Guidelines on IGPs?
When the new guidelines are well applied to every Income Generating Project, there is no doubt that there will be a better implementation of the project: different levels of decision making will be involved and this will reduce risks, there will be more collaboration and team work, collective ownership and communication, there will also be compliance with laws and regulations according to each context. So we have interest in applying the new guidelines if we want to move forward and to avoid falling into the bitter and hard experiences we have had in some provinces in the recent past.
As Luke the Evangelist tells us: “And indeed, which of you here, intending to build a tower, would not first sit down and work out the cost and see if he had enough to complete it? Otherwise, if he laid the foundation and then found himself unable to finish the work, anyone who saw it would start making fun of him…” Luke 14:28-29. That is the spirit behind the Project Management Guidelines. If we apply them we are likely to succeed. So, everyone is encouraged to study the new guidelines on IGPs and to work with the DCs (Development Committees) at every level (be it Sector or Province) for the success of our projects.
Bonaventure BWANAKWERI. M.Afr
and Paul REILLY, M.Afr