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Why is Project Office essential for the Faith-based Organisation?

The Faith-based Organisations (FBOs) are found across the globe based on the principles and values of all existing faiths (religions) and carrying out human, animal and environmental welfare, development, and transformational activities since centuries. They are playing a critical role in reducing the number of complex issues such as poverty, hunger, injustice, peace, climate change, etc in the lives of families, communities, nations, and world and shaping sociocultural norms and practices.

What is Faith Based Organisation (FBO)

A FBO is an institute whose morals are based on a particular faith and/or philosophies and has a Mission and Actions based on their faith. They specify their religious, social, and moral identities based on their faith as the majority of the world's population claims their religious affiliation with them. The core values of all faiths are compassion, solidarity, and respect for human beings. These core values reflect in the Catholic Social Teaching - an option for the poor, Judaism focuses on addressing injustice, Hinduism talks about Ram Rajya and one of the pillars of Islam is zakat.

The FBOs can be mainly categorised in following three groups:

  • Congregations affiliated with physical structures i.e., church, mosque, temple.

  • National networks of congregations i.e., Caritas International.

  • Unaligned or free-standing religious organisations.

FBO status in power structure:

The importance of FBO is recognised by Governments and the United Nations (UN). This has been highlighted in a number of key national and international forms such as UN Task Force on Religion and Development, International Partnership of Religion and Sustainable Development, German government strategy on Religious Communities as Partners for Development and Cooperation, World Bank’s multi-donor coordination mechanism, the International Partnership on Religion and Development. The European Union (EU) had given €150 million funds by signing 263 grants with FBOs during 2007-16 for one their flagship programme named the Thematic Programme on Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities.

Why Project Office

FBO needs to demonstrate their ability, willingness, strength, and capacity to associate themselves with local to international forums as well accessing fundings for their work/mission. Even an individual or a small trust ensures that the FBO meets their formal and non-formal requirements. This can be manifested in the Project Office (Mission Development Office). The Project Office (PO) is symbolised and evidence that FBO is capable of delivering quality projects (pastoral and social) with effectiveness and efficiencies within agreed time and budget while meeting all donor/funding agencies requirements.

How to set up PO

It can be complex and confusing for an individual to set up a PO as it requires leadership backing, financial support and human resource with necessary knowledge and skill sets on PO management. At the same time, it is not too difficult to start or upgrade a PO as one perceives. One can start PO with a laptop, mobile or a notebook (without laptop) and start functioning from home. It is a PO for FBO – starting point in a journey as it has to start from somewhere. Now PO has a postal address and can have an email address. It is ideal to have an internet connection but if not, then it can be accessed at an internet café. There is a need to make a list of requirements – physical, skill and knowledge – for the development of PO.

Also identify individuals or organisations who may support in developing PO to the next level. When seeking support for your PO from an individual please be precise in your asking and be practical. While proposing a project to a funding agency then please include some of PO requirements – physical and capacity building – in the project budget but not over ambitious and follow the funding agency guidelines. Attend training to develop and enhance PO management skills, understanding, and knowledge. Be a volunteer with other FBOs or non-government organisations (NGOs) to gain experience and knowledge on PO management. PO is an integral part of any organisations (religious congregation/diocese) but not an independent organisation so follows organisation rules and regulations. Please note that PO formation and development is a journey, and it takes time and investment – finance and time – so do not discourage and give it up.

Functions of PO

The Project Office (PO) is a focal point (main point of contact) for FBO for all its activities. The PO is a physical structure that the FBO uses as a base to carry out all its actions and acquire knowledge and understanding of PO administration, project management and fundraising. Thus PO, project management and fundraising are inter connective and integral with each other. The PO takes systematic and methodical approach and centralised function within FBO that specialises in managing projects and programmes to achieve strategic goals and objectives that drives transformation and growth and raises resources for it.

The PO plays multiple functions based on its socio-political context, organisational culture and beliefs and country of operation. Each PO has its own varied roles and differ to some extent with each other but generally have following functions. 1) Fundraising management (donor identification, acquisition and retentions, donor data management, using various fundraising methodology and relationship), 2) Project proposal submission (community relationship, needs identification, project proposal and budget development, project proposal submission to the funding agency/donor), 3) Project implementation or management (project implementation, monitoring, data collection, storage and analysis, reporting, donor visitation, compliance, budget management and evaluation), 4) Human resource management (paid staff and volunteer), 5) Communication and relationship management (internal – parent organisation, staff and volunteer – and external – government, NGO, donor, media and sister agencies. 6) Policy and procedure (formation and execution, template or format development/acquiring, data protection, safeguarding and gender and risk management). This is not an exhaustive list and can be included and excluded as per requirement and situation. This is considered as a guidance and not a mandate.

Advantages of having a PO

PO is vital in delivering high-quality projects and programmes. The PO function plays a key role in ensuring projects are well-managed and donor and government compliance requirements are met. The PO is a central coordination point and provides support, coordination, and oversight throughout the full life cycle of the project (opportunity stage to close-out), working with staff and volunteers to build capacity and skill development and effectively support project operation, quality, donor compliance, accountability and reporting. It optimises project and human resource performance to the next level, build strong business practices, risk reduction and to ensure and enhance project success that build strong trust and relationship with the funding agency/donor. Good project management brings or increases chances to have more fundings for FBO and PO is playing an important role in it. Thus, PO, project management and fundraising are interwoven and understanding and knowledge of all three is essential for FBO.

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