Institutional capacity for coalitions: 6-month training course ended

August 2, 2021

Civic activists from 10 coalitions successfully completed a six-month Training Course on Institutional Capacity Building for Coalition and CSO Communities, which lasted from March to August 2021.

This project was implemented by the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law within the Ukraine Civil Society Sectoral Support Activity, and is intended for the members of NGOs that are members of already formed coalitions.

The course consisted of 6 general trainings; the lecturers provided consultations, taking into account the individual needs of the participants. During the course, they analyzed practical cases, worked in groups, performed practical tasks.

“Coalitions are very different: they are working on environmental, anti-corruption, youth, cultural issues. But what brings them together is that during the pandemic, they became less efficient, and the number of coalition members decreased. Also, most of them do not have an understanding of where to go next (at least, this is what they indicated in the questionnaires),” say the organizers

The course began with a lecture on “Community Building” by Ivan Omelian, a coach for the development of communities and coalitions. The participants learned about the mechanisms of building communities, their formation and transformation. The lecturer used examples to analyze the mechanisms by which different communities can get together and how a coalition of different actors becomes a community. Students also analyzed the interaction or likelihood of building a community based on their coalition.

Iryna Nehrieieva, an independent consultant on project management, monitoring and evaluation, spoke about ways to make the coalition stronger. Here, the course participants learned about the mechanisms for developing the institutional stability of coalitions, analyzed the key issues that prevent associations from maintaining the unity and synergy of joint action. 

While Yurii Mykytiuk, Advocacy Manager of the Coalition “Reanimation Package of Reforms”, spoke about the opportunities that coalitions have to exert influence. Together with the expert, the participants got an understanding of the mechanisms of advocacy, which can serve as the basis of the coalition’s activity on the implementation of changes in society.

At the same time, conflicts, misunderstandings or communication problems can arise within any community, and it is important to resolve them successfully. Participants learned to work with these factors in the activities of coalitions at the lectures by Oleksandra Romantsova, executive director of the Center for Civil Liberties. How to prevent a conflict and how to use it for the benefit of the coalition – participants learned about these skills in more detail. 

While Olha Diatel, founder of the Agency for Educational and Cultural Events INSHI, Insha Osvita and the House-Workshop, gave a lecture on how to identify CSO services and how they help build institutional sustainability. Development of trainings, consultations, research and other types of services from CSOs are real mechanisms for developing the institutional capacity of coalitions and communities. As part of the homework, participants designed services that could be launched by their coalition.

The final lecture of the project focused on the topic “Social entrepreneurship – a mechanism for community development”. Here, Alina Bocharnikova, Social Entrepreneurship Development Coordinator at Future Development Agency, told the participants how to create a social enterprise. The lesson also considered the best cases of social enterprises established by organizations. The expert also explained how social enterprises make coalitions stronger.

After the main course of public trainings-lectures for the participants, consultations from the experts continued at their request. 8 coalitions sought consultations on institutional development, which have been taking place since June to August 2021, during the second part of the course. The topics of interest for the civic activists are as follows: creating an action plan for institutional capacity building, working with the team and stakeholders, resolving conflicts in the community, recommendations for the use of communication tools in the work of the union, etc. 

For example, the Korsun Coalition developed a crowdfunding plan for the coalition. Denis Bortnikov was their consultant. Yuriy Mykytyuk helped the coalition “Youth and Entrepreneurs for Change!” to develop an advocacy influence strategy.

Viktor Artemenko worked with four coalitions: “Network of Action Centers”, NUMO, “Network of Local Women’s Human Rights Organizations of the Central Cluster”, “City of Contents”. They submitted similar requests for advice on how to adjust their internal activity. 

  • The first of them asked for advice on the horizontal management of the network and the development of rules for its membership; 
  • The second one asked about establishing contacts and synergies within the team and the organization, resolving conflicts inside and outside the organization; 
  • The third one wanted to find out about arranging systematic work and holding a facilitated meeting in order to meet and activate the participants, the synergy of project activities; 
  • The fourth one asked about building institutional capacity and transforming their community. 

The coalition of the NGO “Ternopil Center for Reforms” had the same request as the “City of Contents”. They worked with Ivan Omelian. Inna Nerodyk advised the Union of Civic Initiatives on the selection of communication tools that will be needed in working with clients and updating their request.

Different queries require different approaches. Therefore, the consultants held online and live meetings, webinars, talks, facilitation meetings for the coalition members and meetings.

For example, the City of Contents had a two-day session in which they worked with Viktor Artemenko to get an understanding of the management of the community, to determine the needs of the network and public associations, to talk about governance and transition of power. Together, they developed service sets for the network and business participants and discussed models to ensure the sustainability of network management.

Therefore, such consultations required active participation on the part coalition representatives. As the coalitions themselves sent inquiries, this also affected their motivation. They were active, took the initiative and prepared for each session. In the end, consultants and coalitions were pleased with the results.

The CSO Coalition and Community Institutional Development course is part of the Ukraine Civil Society Sectoral Support Activity, implemented by the ICAR “Ednannia” in partnership with the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) and the Centre for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM) with the sincere support of the American people through United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The course content does not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.