During the workshop, Dana Doan presented LIN's experience introducing and testing 10 organizational development toolkits designed to build capacity of Vietnamese NPOs. LIN's counterpart organization in Laos, the Learning House for Development (LHD), presented its own services and approach to capacity building of nonprofit associations (NPAs). Both our organizations were excited to learn how much we shared in common, from mission and methodology to current and planned programs. Like LIN, Learning House for Development offers workshops, meeting room rental, incubator services and research and information sharing services.
LIN benefited from learning about unique support services provided by LHD to its NPA members, such as their one-on-one coaching in financial management; their study scholarship for eligible NPA staff; and their contributions to the Knowledge and Information System (KIS) – a jointly managed website consolidating all job, training and grant opportunities, research, resources and upcoming events that may be of interest to staff of Laos NPAs.
During the workshop, there were two breakout sessions designed to simultaneously promote best practice sharing alongside the identification of areas for possible collaboration. LIN first joined a small group of NPAs to discuss experiences with fundraising, networking and social media. In that discussion it became clear that NPOs and NPAs both struggle to meet the requirements of large international grantmakers and are rather new to networking and building partnerships with local companies and local individuals. We all agreed there was a need to improve access to smaller grants by NPOs and NPAs and to improve communications between donors and prospective grantees to build trust and form relationships.
Throughout the workshop and informal discussions over shared meals, several joint initiatives were proposed. Following the exchange, Irish Aid announced the establishment of a small fund, which is designated to support future exchanges, trainings, needs assessments, technical support and joint thematic studies among Vietnamese NPOs and Laos NPAs.
Although it is not yet confirmed, the LIN team is an exchange visit to HCMC by the leadership team at LHD sometime in March 2015. Given our shared mission and overlapping objectives, the LIN team looks forward to building a strategic partnership with the Learning House for Development so both of our organizations can offer improved support services to our respective communities.