This is Denny John, Dy Director-Implementation Micro Insurance Academy. His Linked In profile gives a preview into his professional achievements, however we are glad introduce him as our Whiteboard and GYAN volunteer. As a resource person for GYAN, a volunteer led initiative of iVolunteer aimed at building capacity of NGO’s, his session on one of his core strengths i.e. “writing successful grants” has been quite appreciated by the Participating NGO’s. This and his other volunteering contributions to the sector get us to share his experience and perspectives on this platform.
Tell us something about yourself and your perspective on volunteering?
I have been working in the not-for-profit health space for almost 10 years now, and have experience of working in over 22 states of the country on various community projects, and managing hospitals.
I consider volunteering as part of ISR, i.e. individual social responsibility. India is a country with vast differences; differences in terms of social standing, financial status, and opportunities. Some of us are privileged to be provided with a supportive background due to family and education opportunities, and I feel that volunteering is one of the way in sharing these opportunities with others.
How did you know about GYAN & what motivated you to volunteer for the initiative?
I have been volunteering for over 7 years now; from selling greeting cards for raising money for child related issues, to running half-marathons for an NGO working among construction workers. In the early part of this year I was inducted into the Whiteboard panel in New Delhi. During the interaction with Anuradha, Program Manager, I shared my interest areas of support, one of which was capacity building of NGOs. The invitation to be part of GYAN was an outcome to these discussions.
There exists a huge gap with the technical capacities of NGOs to deliver, and manage projects in areas such as project management, grant proposals, monitoring and evaluation, and policy advocacy. I wish to share my experience gained over the years of working, and also through education in renowned institutes in India and New Zealand, and I see GYAN as a good platform for doing this.
How was your experience of taking the GYAN session? Any takeaways for you as a volunteer?
I have taken 2 sessions in 2013 each of writing grant proposals. I had the opportunity on improving my second session based on participant feedback from the first one. Some of the organisations have continued their relationship by asking feedback on their proposals even beyond the training.
As a successful professional in this sector please share your perspective on the capacity building needs of the sector?
The development sector is currently undergoing through a huge transition. Due to the influx of funding through organizations such as World Bank, USAID, etc, and private foundations , there is a greater need for professional management of grant money in community projects and advocacy. Although in recent times there has been number of individuals from corporate sector make the shift to development sector to bring some professionalism, there is still a huge gap. This is basically because the development sector works on a different set of outcomes, some of them intangible, and requires huge efforts in terms of time to bring about change. Most professionals from corporates are not able to bring in this mind-set.
In my view there is need to build the capacity in this sector through bridging the gap between scientific and technical rigour and grass-root implementation. GYAN could be one of the steps in this direction.
Do you think the GYAN approach to training is significant step in the direction of building capacity in this sector?
Yes. Linking professionals with very specific skill-sets and getting them in the same room with other NGOs for a short but intense training, which is the GYAN approach, is a sure shot in the building the capacity in this sector.
Would you recommend GYAN to volunteers as well as NGO’s? If so Why?
If someone feels the need to share knowledge and build the capacity of other individuals, then GYAN is definitely a platform for such volunteers., For NGOs they receive the benefit of spending time with trained professional with specific skill-sets, skills which are in most cases not available through traditional trainings.