Historic GFC award gets a new selection process

April 24, 2019 | GFC & Partner Updates

After nearly 15 years, we’re changing the way we choose the winners of our signature Maya Ajmera Sustainability Award.

Each year, GFC offers the Maya Ajmera Sustainability Award to a few of its highest-achieving partners. Since 2005, 144 community-based organizations from 48 countries have received the award and used the funds to support their long-term stability.

This year, we’re using a more inclusive, participatory selection process for the first time.

Historically, Sustainability Award winners have been selected by GFC program staff. In 2019, a committee of three alumni partners – former Sustainability Award recipients themselves – and two members of our Youth Leadership Council will choose the winners.

Why the change? At GFC, we’ve committed to incorporating our partners’ feedback and perspectives into our work whenever possible. Engaging our partners in our decision-making will ultimately make us more effective and accountable as a funder. And who better to evaluate the proposals than fellow community leaders who have firsthand experience with the award?

We’re also dedicated to placing youth at the center of what we do and to giving young people authentic opportunities to shape our work. As advisers to GFC, our Youth Leadership Council members are ideally suited to bring a youth perspective to the selection team.

“This process will bring together diverse voices with different perspectives on the growth and investments that NGOs need to make themselves sustainable,” said Joe Bednarek, Director of Global Grantmaking. “We’ll take learnings from this kind of participatory process to use in the selection process for future awards.”

Rebecca, youth participant at CIYOTA in Uganda, waits to receive her high school diploma

Rebecca on her high school graduation day. Rebecca received educational support and leadership training from CIYOTA, a GFC partner and 2017 Sustainability Award winner in Kyangwali, Uganda.

Other changes are also underway, based on what we learned from our 2018 Sustainability Award Impact Assessment – an in-depth survey of former award recipients.

Because our partners asked for enhanced coaching, our programs team offered individual support to applicants as they developed their proposals, and will continue to advise the winners throughout the grant period. The funding remains flexible – a top recommendation from the survey – so that partners can determine how best to support their organization’s sustainability. We also extended the grant period from one to two years, allowing more time for guidance, implementation, and feedback.

Dusica Popadic, director of GFC alumni partner (and 2012 Sustainability Award winner) Incest Trauma Center in Belgrade, Serbia, will be part of this year’s selection committee. She sees the participatory process as a sign of trust in her organization, as well as a way for her to give back to GFC.

“After six years of support provided by GFC to our organization, I want to contribute to GFC’s work,” Dusica said. “I feel our knowledge and experience are being trusted. [The participatory process] reflects the openness of GFC to integrate practitioners’ voices. At the same time, it is a significant responsibility for NGO leaders and is surely a learning experience.”

We’re looking forward to announcing the winners next month! Sign up for GFC updates to be among the first to get the news.

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Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.

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