Growing Up for More Impact

By Daniel Siegfried

Since Child’s Dream was founded 20 years ago, we have gone through a number of phases that have characterised our organisation’s respective development stages. About four years ago we started a new phase – we can call it the ‘Growing Up Phase’ – which has been focused on the development of our own organisational capacity both from an operational and from a programme implementation point of view. Thanks to a slower anticipated pace during Covid-19 we had the chance to spend more time on strengthening our programme and partnership management capabilities. Or at least this was the plan until we realised that Covid-19 and its unpredictability actually triggered more work than expected. Furthermore, the military coup in Myanmar demanded more flexibility with regards to the support of our partners in the country, increasing our workload even more.

Despite all the challenges, we decided to go ahead and work on a new tool that assists us in managing our programmes and partnerships. We proudly call this tool the Child’s Dream Programme Management Cycle (PMC) unlike the term Project Cycle Management (PCM) which is widely used in the international aid & development sector. But we are known to do things differently and not necessarily stick to textbooks.

Our PMC consists of five steps: Identification, Initiation, Planning, Implementation and Closing. It is designed to lead our staff through all the steps to strategically plan, manage and review programmes implemented by us or our partners. This systematic approach helps us not only to ensure the relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of our work, but also to develop a long-term strategic vision for the programmes with a focus on ‘Impact’, rather than short-term ‘Outputs’. It will also allow us to build stronger relationships with our partners and to invest in their organisational development and capacity building.

An important part of the PMC are the continuous Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) efforts of our work because we want to make sure that our programmes create the desired impact or, in other words, the intended positive change. The main objective of our impact evaluation is to get insights and feedback which allow us to continually improve our work for our beneficiaries. As one of the founders of Child’s Dream, this is very close to my heart. Child’s Dream is my life’s work and I must be sure that we can achieve the highest possible long-term impact with our limited resources. It is nice to know that we granted over 3,000 scholarships to vulnerable youth to complete a high school education, but have these scholarships helped them to further their studies, to find better jobs and ultimately to improve their lives? It is imperative that we know; and by the way, the answer is yes. We have just published our latest impact report and it makes me immensely proud to see what we have been able to achieve over the last 20 years.

According to some MBA textbooks, Child’s Dream would be considered a maturing organisation by now, but I refuse this terminology in our case because it implies to me that we would slow down, be more settled and content with the status quo; however, we need to be anything but. The needs of our beneficiaries are not just constantly changing, but also increasing and this requires us to be on our toes and ready to respond. I prefer to think of Child’s Dream still being in the ‘Growing Up Phase’ and I’m looking forward to putting our newly gained programme and partnership management capabilities to use for our beneficiaries.

The needs of our beneficiaries are not just constantly changing, but also increasing and this requires us to be on our toes and ready to respond.