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Cross-cutting themes

A woman working on a farm - Community

Across all our programmes, capacity building, collaboration, participation, advocacy, gender, disability, and the environment are of importance to the people and communities we work with.

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Getting it right

family with grainsEvery programme or project we support starts and ends at community level: designing and building programmes in partnership, listening to community needs, building agreements and strategies with individual families, empowering our local teams to support change and impact from the grassroots up.  We are a highly dispersed organisation, fundraising and implementing programmes in 125 countries and territories in the world with employees from the local community in each of our locations.

We seek at all times to be transparent, accountable to all our stakeholders, wherever they are. We have to make sure that we are doing the very best that we can with the funds entrusted to us by donors.  We have to know whether our participant families and communities are getting the very best they can from our support and involvement in their lives.

Our Quality Management Programme monitors our performance and potential from different perspectives: that of the children, families and communities, as well as organisational support systems and structures. Our overall goal of quality management is ‘doing the right things right’.

  • We must track everything we do – and the cost of doing it – at local, national and global level
  • We must understand at a highly individual level what impact we have had on thousands and thousands of children and their families
  • We must have benchmarks and standards of best-practice against which we can measure ourselves and our activities and their impact
  • We must have systematic review processes to see if we are doing well – and, crucially, if we could do even better

We are an organisation of considerable maturity and size.  As a result:

  • We have consistent systems and structures which allow for transparent, cost effective internal and external record keeping, accounting and reporting.
  • We have detailed current and historical information which can be analysed at every level from individual up to global: we can be sure of the age, gender, health profile and education status of every participant we work with and are able to monitor the development of any child, family or community.
  • We take part in many organisations, including the UN, to influence the development of standards and practices for the care of children and their families.  As a result, we are always aware of the latest thinking and developments: we can benchmark our activities against the best of the best.
  • We use training and staff development programmes to make sure that each of our teams knows what other teams are doing and we systematically review and publish outcomes from our activities– so that we can truly call ourselves a learning organisation.

We take our obligations to programme participants, donors and external stakeholders to develop and sustain quality very seriously.  Our monitoring and evaluation enables us to build capacity amongst the beneficiaries and ensures that sustainability and empowerment are encouraged. It also enables us to identify where corrective action needs to be taken and provides valuable information for improving the design of existing and future interventions.

The mid-term external review of our family strengthening programmes (FSPs) in Zambia, Uganda and Mozambique highlights the positive progress of the programmes, alongside the challenges and learning points: “The FSP in all the three case locations has improved the children’s access to essential services...With 80 % of the children participating in the programme currently receiving educational support, the FSP Fort Portal is on track regarding their set goals... The inclusion of older youth as child beneficiaries is a challenge that should be addressed in near future”

Our global programmes database captures information on the children, families and programmes.  We record the development of the participant and their community from the moment they enter the programme until they leave it. This allows us to establish a baseline and validate the impact that programme activities are having.  Each family has a  family development plan to establish their individual needs.  It enables us to tailor support and monitor progress throughout the programme.

“SOS Malawi reflects a clear awareness of sustainability issues with time-bound interventions including exit strategies at the individual household level.” Deloitte report for Sweden International Development Agency

Our size and experience have enabled us to develop bespoke tools to support much of the work we do.  Each SOS Children programme is individual and designed at community or family level, but each programme will benefit from the use of our helpful toolkit including:

  • Guidelines
  • Checklists
  • Templates
  • Software systems

Monitoring begins from day one.  Programmes follow clear time schedules, with defined budgets and express exit strategies.

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