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RETHINKING THE PATH TOWARDS FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY: THE SUMA SOCIAL PROGRAM CASE

We assisted 15 civil society organizations in the organization and facilitation a workshop on financial sustainability as part of the Suma Social program.


BACKGROUND:


The Suma Social program, funded by USAID Colombia and implemented by FHI 360, aims to strengthen Colombian civil society organizations so they can more efficiently achieve their objectives, and improve their impact while being more sustainable. This program seeks to reinforce the civil society ecosystem by promoting collaborations between the various organizations in the sphere and improving the amount of services available for civil society organizations all across the country.


UNDERTAKING THE CHALLENGE:


The Suma Social team approached Kubadili with a challenge: design and facilitate an activity during which the participating civil society organizations that each represent their learning community, in the context of their second meeting, can rethink their financial sustainability models and their strategies for generating income.


METHODOLOGICAL DESIGN:


With the challenge set, the teams of Suma Social and Kubadili -who on this occasion consisted of Ann Hillary Lewis Monge, Jader Rojas, Jenny Mancera y Fabián Dulcé- began to brainstorm an appropriate dynamic for the meeting; while always keeping in mind the space in which the meeting would occur, the length, and the purpose of the meeting.


After various tests and conversations, both teams decided to create an intensive workshop, during which our team would accompany the participating organizations as they integrate distinct agile tools and methodologies that will allow them to collaboratively get closer to realizing the three pillars of financial sustainability for each of their respective organizations:


  • Identify financial goals and objectives that align with the generation of social impact.

  • Create value propositions based on experience and the appropriate audience.

  • Design products and services that contribute to the generation of income through ideation and experimentation. (Work on this)

THE EVENT AND RESULTS:


After much planning, the day of the event arrived. On the 14th of December in Bogota, Colombia, our team prepared the activities and, together with the team from the Suma Social program, welcomed the representatives of the 15 organizations that would make up the event.


Using various games, we began to explore, together with the teams of participating organizations, concepts of financial sustainability. Credits: Suma Social/USAID Colombia


During the workshop, we took on the challenge of promoting the ambitious (maybe not the right word) mentality that would push and enable the teams to rethink their financial sustainability models towards those based on income generation through the creation of products and services that align with their missions. Through conceptual capsules, dynamics, and theoretical-practical tools, we invited the teams to collaboratively approach and understand three key concepts for working on the financial sustainability of their organizations:

  • Flexibly plan financial goals and objectives that engage with the generation of social impact.

  • Create value propositions that address the needs and challenges of your audiences (is this the right word?).

  • Ideate and experiment with key processes to kickstart the creation of products and services.


The atendees exchanging experiences and lessons they've learned up to now, tackling the challenge of creating value propositions for their organizations. Credits: Suma Social/USAID Colombia


After a day filled with laughter and activities, we ended the workshop by presenting the powerful mural Jenny had chartered over the course of all the events that detailed the stories, lessons, and contemplations that had been shared as part of the experiences we’d cultivated together with the organizations.


It was a workshop charged with learning and fun. We found inspiring ideas from within the teams, as well as a powerful conviction to continue thinking of strategies that, along with generating income, will support and bolster the impact these organizations are already generating in their communities.”, shared Hillary Ann

The space was a seed on the path for this group of organizations, who in addition to obtaining tools, were able to take away powerful reflections on the skills, talents and experiences they already have to create value propositions that continue to give life to necessary and urgent transformations. We also reflected on how the way we plan is an essential component to take value from our ecosystem and be able to adapt to the uncertainty of a volatile context.


From the ideation and experimentation capsules, we were able to demonstrate the capacity of the teams to create prototypes of products and services that contribute to the generation of income. We saw once again how sometimes all that is needed is a boost in creative confidence to set in motion an entrepreneurial mindset that gives life to new forms of social transformation.


Jenny Mancera, Kubadili facilitator and graphic documenter, completing the mural commemorating the event. Credits: Suma Social/USAID Colombia


At the end of the space we heard among participants many phrases that alluded to the value of starting on this path, which allows them to understand financial sustainability as a pillar to sustain their impact, and that, ultimately, as social organizations they already have a very valuable background, full of experiences and knowledge, to walk this path and make sustainability as they go along.


RESULTS BY NUMBERS:

  • The event lasted 6 hours in total

  • 48 participants from 15 Colombian civil society organizations participated.

  • 4 specialists from USAID Colombia and FHI 360 participated.

  • 4 specialists from Kubadili participated.



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