operating principles

indigo foundation projects are chosen, monitored and evaluated against a set of four guiding principles. Applying these concepts to our partners and ourselves allows us to have a meaningful framework around which we can communicate and negotiate. It avoids a managerial or technocratic approach to development by giving us flexible boundaries that allow for innovation, different processes and timelines, diversity in identity – and ultimately empowerment.

In order to facilitate the implementation of the guiding principles, the type of operational support we provide our partners is critical. This can either enable or undermine efforts to maintain or achieve the Guiding Principles. Therefore, we have a set of operational principles by which we work and which in many ways are the practical manifestation of our Guiding Principles.

indigo foundation aims to apply the following key operational principles to projects:

1.    Core funding

Funding should not be tied to specific projects or activities, but rather provided for the general use of the organisation. Funds can be used for ongoing costs (such as salaries or recurrent administration expenses) or specific program activities. However, we need to be assured the budget of the organisation aligns to and reflects a robust strategic planning process (including appropriate identification of community needs) and the reporting of funds received and expanded is transparent to the community.
The establishment phase of the project may require some conditionality on use of funds as the relationship (and trust) is established.

2.    Commitment to relationships

We believe that robust relationships based on equality are at the core of successful community development. Strong relationships provide a foundation for honest and meaningful exchanges, and when circumstances become difficult. Our commitment to relationships is formally expressed through our Commitment Agreements which should aim to be for three years. A pre-existing relationship is a key criterion for supporting an organisation, and should be maintained and supported through both formal channels (such as liaison officers, reporting requirements) and informal means (emails and telephone conversations).

3.    Partnerships

Most marginalised communities we support do not have access to national or international support: they do not have adequate access to telecommunications and/or are not large enough to be noticed (or considered administratively efficient). Strengthening and broadening links to the greater development community (and those who can provide higher levels of technical or financial assistance than we do) should be a key component of project management support.

4.    Risk taking

Empowerment and change do not happen without taking some risks. We support calculated risk taking (mitigated by a thorough risk analysis which includes risk management options) where it has a strong chance of supporting a community’s development priorities. Such risk taking may include supporting new or fledging organisations (noting that small community based organisations in marginalised communities are inherently risky because of limited capacity and usually a strong reliance on individuals) or providing catalytic funding to test or demonstrate the validity of a development idea.

5.    Reflection

Quality monitoring and evaluation of support is crucial to ongoing development access. indigo foundation believes that at the core of effective monitoring and evaluation is the ability to critically self analyse – and an open and ‘safe’ environment for discussions about mistakes and lessons learned should be facilitated. Partners should be strongly encouraged to not only reflect on their own progress but on the support that we have provided. We have developed a process to encourage our partners’ self reflection.