News

July 2014

Out now: INTRAC Review of Activities, 2011-13
INTRAC has released its Review of Activities covering the period from April 2011-March 2013. Read the report for a retrospective of all our activities in all arenas for that period. Contains plenty of links to our key projects and papers, as well as a summary of what we do and how we do it. Also a summary of our finances and some interesting facts and figures. Watch for the 2013-14 annual report, coming out soon.

June 2014

New paper: Knowledge sharing in action
Our latest practitioner-oriented short paper, 'Knowledge sharing in action: The case of Concern Worldwide’s Knowledge Matters', describes how a new internal publication by Concern Worldwide has provided the means and motivation for staff to share their experience-based knowledge.

New INTRAC advocacy course - Influencing and Supporting Change in Complex Contexts
We are excited to announce a new advocacy course - 'Influencing and Supporting Change in Complex Contexts' which will be delivered in Oxford, UK on 1-3 September 2014. The course builds on INTRAC’s extensive experience of strengthening advocacy capacity and civil society voice at the national level. It provides an opportunity for participants to build their knowledge and skills and reflect on the specific challenges of these approaches in complex political contexts, situations and environments.

Recent consultancy: Evaluation for the Association for the Prevention of Torture
The Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) has recently released the results of a comprehensive evaluation of its strategic plan, commissioned by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and conducted by INTRAC. The report looks at case studies from the Philippines, Senegal, Tunisia, Kyrgyzstan, and Latin America, and comes to a number of conclusions and recommendations.

New paper: Building capacity of a thriving civil society in West Africa
Civil society has played an important role in reducing poverty levels in West Africa. However, organisations in the region still face challenges, many of which could be tackled by a commitment to appropriate capacity building. This paper summarises lessons learnt by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI).

New research on legal frameworks and political space for NGOs
What kind of legal and political environment do civil society organisations operate in today? New research by INTRAC, conducted in conjunction with the European Association of Development and Training Institutes (EADI) and the University of Portsmouth, shows a complex and nuanced picture. The research examines the context in 12 countries.

Recent consultancy: Civil society and EU Delegations
In 2012, the European Commission made a commitment to work more with civil society groups. DanChurchAid and Concord accordingly commissioned INTRAC to do a capacity needs assessment amongst their partners and make recommendations as to relevant future capacity building support. The survey and report are now available.

New issue of Development in Practice
Latest issue of Development in Practice is out! Topics include food security in the Yucatan, herb gardens in Bangalore, irrigation in Nepal, malaria in Tanzania, art to fight HIV/AIDS, LGBT concerns in pre-departure orientations, development-driven forced displacement, social compacts for economic growth, and more.

New blog post: Cultivating trust in partnerships
'Trust' may sound like a soft, woolly concept; nice in theory but not useful in the business or NGO world. Not so, argues principal consultant Rick James in the sixth post of his blog series on capacity building. 'Trust is the ultimate root and source of influence,' he writes. 'It is a hard core and highly cost effective asset that you can create and also destroy.'

May 2014

Latest ONTRAC! Beyond spring: Civil society's role in the Middle East and North Africa
Since the heady days of the Arab Spring, what has happened to civil society in the countries affected? On the surface, change has been less sweeping than many activists hoped. But there have been important shifts, as chronicled by the authors of our latest ONTRAC newsletter.

New paper: Establishing a national coordinating body for non-profit organisations
INTRAC's new paper by Richard Bennett draws on experiences of not-for-profit umbrella organisations from all over the world to guide the formulation of the questions potential participants in a coordinating body should ask themselves and each other as they explore founding a coordinating body.

New blog post: Cultivating character in capacity building
Focusing exclusively on capacities, knowledge and skills misses what matters most. It’s individual and organisational character that determines whether genuine change takes place, argues principal consultant Rick James in the latest post in his capacity building blog series.

New blog post: It's (almost) all about leadership
Sure, participatory strategic processes are good. But when the leadership isn't committed to change, nothing happens. So argues principal consultant Rick James in his latest blog post, the fourth in his popular capacity building series. A great leader 'intentionally and determinedly shares leadership,' he writes. 'They are an odd mixture of courage and humility.'

New blog post: 10 ways to help others do their best thinking
Who is doing the thinking in our organizations? Could we think better? What can help us? INTRAC training manager Paula Haddock, a mindfulness trainer, explores these questions and more in her new blog post.

April 2014

New blog post: Obsessed with assessment tools
"As NGOs, we are besotted by tools," argues principal consultant Rick James in a provocative new blog post, the third in his capacity building series. "We treat them like magic bullets, as if suddenly the right tool could solve centuries-old dilemmas of human development." Does this apply to your organisation?

Places available on INTRAC's May courses
There are places available on our May courses: Gender Analysis and Planning, 19-21 May; and, Advanced Monitoring and Evaluation, 19-23 May.

March 2014

New blog post: Cultivating capacity - Returning to first principles
In the second of his series of blog posts on capacity building, principal consultant Rick James looks at the shaky foundations on which much of our capacity building is based. He argues we already know what works but these 'first principles' have fallen out of favour with donors because they involve risk and longer time horizons.

New briefing paper: Time for NGOs to rediscover their purpose
Brian Pratt, INTRAC's recently retired executive director, looks back over 40 years of development work, from the heyday of the 1970s, when NGOs were largely self-funded and independent, to today, when many are predicting the end of aid as we know it. He examines four areas: the comparative advantages of NGOs, innovation, capacity building, and the functions of civil society.

New blog post: Calling our bluff on capacity building
International NGOs have been talking about capacity building for years. Senior INTRAC consultant Rick James, however, argues that much of the capacity building that Northern NGOs have provided for Southern organisations has focused on making local NGOs better aid delivery vehicles, not helping them become autonomous civil society organisations

February 2014

New blog post: Why Ukraine needs a strong civil society
With President Viktor Yanukovych having fled the country, what will come next? None of the current leaders of various factions seems to have the answers that will lead to broad satisfaction. INTRAC executive director Michael Hammer argues that to shape and sustain the sort of future they want, Ukrainians need to nurture a strong civil society.

New M&E Paper! “More of an art than a science”: Challenges and solutions in monitoring and evaluating advocacy

New Workshop Report: Do NGOs Need a Languages Policy?

New blog post: Mindfulness for the development sector
What is mindfulness and what does it have to do with international development? INTRAC training manager Paula Haddock, who is pursuing a master's degree on mindfulness through the University of Bangor, answers those questions and more in the first of a series of posts on mindfulness and development.

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