The Technical Support and Dialogue Platform (TSDP) is a unique technical support mechanism that facilitates the linkages between the supply of services required by organisations of civil society, and the demand for such services. The primary intent of the TSDP is to ensure that communities enjoy high quality and consistent service delivery by organisations committed to community development. We assist our clients, largely civil society organisations (CSOs), to access the best consulting resources for their needs; set and monitor standards of the consulting interventions; help protect the interests of both beneficiaries and service providers; and ensure that best practices and innovative approaches to capacity development and technical support are made available to our clients.
How we work
Instead of approaching the issue of capacity building in a myopic way, the TSDP works with grantees to identify needs and subsequent interventions that are located within the social, political and economic realities of the country. The TSDP is also open to carving out, in discussions with the organisation, an alternative and best-suited road-map. Whether clients are in need of assistance with strategy development, development of sustainability plans or report writing skills, TSDP will work towards an effective solution.
We ask the tough questions: The TSDP believes in conversations. The first conversations about the challenges or perceived challenges within an organisation are the most important. This is where issues are unpacked and contextualised. Through this method is it hoped that organisations will engage in greater and more honest analysis of the challenges they face.
We present a list of pre-screened consultants: The TSDP has established developed a database of consultants with varying degrees of expertise and who have undergone an extensive screening process. Once an agreement has been reached about the desired and necessary course of action, our clients can select a consultant of their choice. A Memorandum of Understanding is drawn up between TSDP and the organisation while the consultant signs a contract with TSDP. In this way, the TSDP is able to ensure quality delivery of the consultant’s terms of reference and support the process where necessary.
We dialogue extensively: There are instances when an organisation’s challenges can be better understood by investigating trends within the sector at large. The TSDP promotes the use of dialogues as a crucial platform for sharing information, good practices and challenges experienced by organisations within a sector. These dialogues are also opportunities to discuss inter-organisational collaboration, particularly in the context of dwindling donor funding. Such dialogue also facilitates the possibility of collaboration, a key strategy in response to the current challenges of reduced donor funding for civil society.
The rationale for our work
Indicative of the current state of civil society in the country, certain trends have become evident among organisations in the development sector. Some of these trends are outlined below:
- Many organisations today face much greater pressures and challenges in regards to maintaining the relevance of their programmes and interventions in a contextually dynamic, contemporary South Africa. The emphasis on achieving results and demonstrating evidence of change is thus more pronounced and expected by donors and stakeholders. This places significant stress on the capacities of organisations to deliver such results, particularly in the context of dwindling financial resources
- There is a clear disjuncture between the expressed need for capacity development support and technical assistance, and the available financial and professional resources to meet such need. Even in cases organisations may have resources, overhead costs are prioritised over building the capabilities of the organisation. There is also growing mediocrity in regards to delivery of outcomes by both the organisation and independent consulting services. This suggests a seemingly pervasive lack of innovation on the part of organisations to address challenges and complexities in their development work
- Many organisations in the development sector operate within the confines of their comfort zones and arguably, appear to lack the courage to truly act in the interests of their constituencies. There is growing evidence to suggest that organisations are becoming more intra-organisationally focused (for an array of reasons such as to secure funding for the future) and are therefore less able to demonstrate results or changes
- In general decreased donor funding tends to usher in an atmosphere whereby many organisations are seeking to collaborate mainly for survival purposes. This is in contrast to a ‘niche focus’ that tends to set organisations apart and encourage isolationist interventions. This is a positive trend and one worth encouraging on a wide scale as it renews an ethos of collaboration among civil society organisations. In order to compliment this, donors could consider such meaningful collaboration in order to achieve sustained results.