Moderators: Lisa Kuennen-Asfaw, Director, Public Donor Group, Catholic Relief Services (CRS); Joan Whelan, Knowledge Management Senior Specialist, Food Security and Nutrition Network/TOPS Program
Many Title II and other food security programs now operate with a prime leading a consortium of international and local NGO sub-recipients. The consortium arrangement allows for greater geographic coverage, inclusion of technical and sectoral strengths from multiple organizations, resulting in the potential of much greater impact. Working in a consortium, however, is also managerially more complex.
The session began with a brainstorm where participants were asked to think of one word they would use to describe a well-functioning consortium. Examples included: coordination, trust, partnership and transparency. The group then reviewed a number of components related to consortium management and rated their experience of these management components in their own projects.
Participants shared practices and approaches that have worked well to improve a number of management components as well as ideas for new practices. Suggestions included the need for leadership training for incoming chiefs of party and other senior management on consortia, and TOPS developing a cross-organizational forum for discussing consortium management. At the consortium level, participants suggested that knowledge sharing forums among consortium members would be helpful as well as developing committees for clearly defined roles for consortium management, and team building activities between members of different organizations could improve interpersonal relationships.
CRS’s Consortium Alignment Framework for Excellence (CAFE) Manual on CD in English, French and Spanish to all participants for future reference.
The Way Forward: Participants made recommendations in the following areas:
Expand efforts to identify and disseminate standards and best practices on partnering, including working with the private sector, local organizations, etc.
Capacity Strengthening and Tools
Leadership management training is key, and should be carried out for new consortium project technical and management leads.