Lessons Foundations Have Learned in Eastern Europe
Editor's Note: Lessons learned by Western foundations working in postcommunist societies can be of benefit to church and parachurch missions working in the region.
There are a number of factors that contributed to the successes foundations experienced in assisting democracy in Central Europe. Among the most important are significant local involvement; a high convergence between the ends, the means, and the resources available; and an emphasis on sustainability. Sustainability is the clearest measure of success. Perhaps the single most important factor in sustainability is providing significant opportunities for local involvement, including real partnerships.
Strong, effective leaders by themselves are not enough. Also essential are strong local staffs and boards, and locally adapted modes of operation that support the institution's objectives. Having transparent democratic governance that promotes accountability is important, too. Appropriate local operations and staffs are necessary to build strong, trust-based relationships. They are also critical to ensuring that the foundation's activities are truly responsive to local needs rather than being a reflection of the foundation's perceptions of what those needs may be. All these steps are helpful for sustainability. Empowering local partners with decision-making authority is essential to any project's long-term success. Engaging them in every stage of the project is also important.
Excerpt reprinted with permission from Kevin F.F. Quigley, For Democracy's Sake; Foundations and Democracy Assistance in Central Europe (Baltimore, MD: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 1997). Hardback, $38; paperback, $15.95. Available from Johns Hopkins University Press, 2715 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218-4319; tel: 800-537-5487 or 410-516-6900; fax: 410-516-6998; e-mail: bkinfo@jhupress; web site: http://www.press.jhu.edu.
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© 1998 East-West Church and Ministry Report