7 lessons for dealing with emerging needs

Even the most meticulously planned enterprise can require adjustment at some time or another, from minor tweaking to a major overhaul. Such was the case with the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) program, a public-private partnership meant to address the root causes of rural poverty in Uganda.

Dorothy Masinde, Della E. McMillan, Max Rothschild and Gail Nonnecke wrote about leaving the door open to emerging needs and opportunities in the book “Tapping Philanthropy for Development” edited by Lorna Michael Butler and Della E. McMillan. They offer the following lessons that were learned from the establishment of the CSRL:

  • Consider ways that initial partner and management team choices can affect early program design.
  • Create open communication with staff to empower them to be aware of and communicate with emerging needs.
  • Network with other organizations and programs to allow new ideas to circulate.
  • Develop innovative ways that small donations can be solicited and managed to sponsor pilot tests of new initiatives.
  • Use pilot test results to sell the added incentives to new and existing benefactors as well as private foundations and collaborative research programs.
  • Build the technical capacity of the program staff to support the new initiatives.
  • Build flexibility into the design, culture and communications of the program from the start so that new activities can be added and appropriately integrated into the program subsystems.