First meeting of the Advisory Board for the Mission Development office - July 2013
The Mission Development Office (MDO) was established in 2007 in Rome by the Congregational Leadership Team with the goal of finding new ways to support those Units of the Congregation which were not financially self-sustainable. In 2008 the MDO was incorporated as an independent nonprofit Foundation to apply for funds and support projects worldwide. In the past six years this Foundation has worked extensively to strengthen the impact of the Good Shepherd programs in over 20 countries, from the Philippines to Guatemala. To do so, the MDO reinforced good relationships with the main international Catholic foundations that have funded missionaries in Africa, Asia and Latin America for many years.
Through an intense work of grant seeking, capacity building of local staff and networking, the Foundation has constantly increased the number of projects served and funds raised. In 2012 it has served 15 countries, submitting 55 project proposals to different agencies worldwide and raising over 1.3 million US dollars. Thanks to the projects approved only in 2012, the Good Shepherd programs in India, Lebanon, Philippines, Thailand, Kenya, Syria, Madagascar, Mozambique, Congo, and Bolivia have been able to serve more than 300,000 poor, sick, vulnerable women, girls and children.
The goal of MDO is to keep helping the Good Shepherd grassroots program to become more sustainable in a time of financial turmoil. To do so, in 2012 and early 2013 the MDO has been working to develop and reinforce regional mission development offices. The one in Lebanon, created in 2011 and coordinated by Sr. Antoinette Assaff, has kept growing thanks to the support of professional Australian volunteers. In June 2013, the Leadership Team of Angola has decided to create a link office in Luanda as well, with the support of the Province of UK. Ms. Isabella Chirico will help the sisters in Luanda to set up the office in the coming months and will collaborate with the MDO in Rome to prepare projects. At the REAL meeting in July, the MDO Director has been invited to discuss the creation of a regional MDO in Latin America.
While these new partners will help the Rome MDO in preparing projects and managing the funds, there is still a great need for identifying new sources of funds and to develop the network of partners. In response to these needs the CLT decided to create an Advisory Board to the Foundation.
In March 2013, the Board of the Foundation sent out invitations to create an Advisory Board to socially minded and well-connected people who have shown a strong commitment to the Good Shepherd values of dignity, economic justice, peace and reconciliation.
All the people contacted accepted with joy and were then invited to attend the first meeting in July in Rome. The members of this Board, which includes two Good Shepherd Sisters with a strong experience in fundraising, have been called to volunteer some of their time to share their knowledge and contacts to strengthen and extend the MDO's network of funders, sponsors and volunteers.
These are the members of the Advisory Board:
Mr. Silvio Gentile, Italy, CEO, Green Utility Ltd
Mr. Hubert Janssen, Netherland, Director, GSS NL
Mr. Pierre Harang, France,advisor in management of projects
Sr. Joyce Meyer, USA, Consultant and Board member of the Conrad Hilton Fund
Sr. Paulette LoMonaco, USA, CEO, Good Shepherd Services
Ms. Patricia Marshall, UK,Chartered Psychologist
Br. Allen Sherry, AUS, Director, Marist Solidarity Office
Sr. Therese Thong, Taiwan, Good Shepherd Sisters Taiwan
Ms. Nancy Wang, Communication expert, Taiwan
Ms. Zoe Dean-Smith, Vital Voices, USA-Swaziland
Sr. Paulette Lo Monaco, Executive Director of the Good Shepherd Services in New York is one of the members who took part in the first meeting and she responded to a few questions:
What will be the Role of the Advisory Committee?
The Role of this Committee is to assist the MDO in its work with the ministries in the Global South by advising on new sources of funding, capacity building and the training of sisters and lay partners in grant writing, reporting and project management. To do this they will help with needs assessment, strategic planning, and networking. The MDO develops proposals; matches them to the needs of programs that have been recommended by the CLT or by local requests. The request must be centered on the ministry.
How do you feel about it?
I feel excited and energized because I feel that I can contribute to the development of programs in the Global South and I am very impressed by the knowledge and commitment of the other Advisory Board participants. The Advisory Board Members bring not only their knowledge of Good Shepherd programs, but also their expertise in managing organizational change, in fundraising, strategic planning, communications and capacity building. Representatives were from Italy, Nederland, France, USA, UK, Taiwan and Swaziland. Everyone wanted to help and this led to very rich conversations during which excellent ideas were generated.
What have you decided during the first meeting?
During the first meeting, the group heard presentations by Sister Brigid and Sister Susan. They clarified the role of the committee as advisory to the MDO.
The group recommended increased communications about successful programs as a means of providing examples to other areas of the world. We also recommended the mentoring and training of Sisters and lay partners by those with more experience. It was felt that we had tremendous expertise within the congregation, but so often, one part of the world is not aware of the programs and experience that others have. We recognize that we need to build capacity in the programs so that they treat the participants in the programs with justice and the most up to date interventions. Programs providing similar services could share best practice through skype, blogs, etc.
We recommended that local MDO”s be set up to provide technical assistance, joint planning and applications for funding. We recommended that to raise funds today and into the future, it will be very important to measure results and be transparent and accountable for the funds received. We were happy to learn that the MDO will have the capacity to do this.
How did you find the other members?
I found the other members to be very dedicated, committed and very generous with their offers to help.
When will you meet again?
We also decided that we will meet once a year but in between the members offered to take on various projects depending on their level of expertise.