Workshop V (June 18, 2006) - Synopsis
Attendees: Rahul, Raghav, Priya, Sandhya, Saurabh, Yogita, Mahadevan, Aravind, Tulika, Aparajita, Theresa, Marina, Palani, Sudarshan, Raji, Srijan, Tapoja, Tarun, Sree, Swati, Aarthi, Arindam, Venky, Ashish, Bharathi, Mamtha, Binay, Sunil, Vibhavaree, Vaibhav
- Have an extra weekend meeting every month
- Reserve 30 minutes in every meeting for non-project related discussion (any discussion topic or issue). Any discussion topic may lead to a focus-group at a later point
- Decide on the time/venue for the additional weekend meeting per month
- We'll also need to setup another follow up session to go over our strengths and weaknesses as an organization and come up with action items and clear focus areas for the next year
- Revamp our new volunteer orientation, brainstorm on different ideas. Also revamp all publicity materials so that our messaging to our donors as well as volunteers is clear in terms of what we aspire to do
- Update Asha-wide on our discussions and outcomes. Also we'll need to work with them to change the messaging on Asha-wide website since many volunteers and donors don’t directly look at Asha Seattle's website
- We'll have to actively work to create a more diverse volunteer base
- Few ideas that needs more follow up:
- Listing of focus groups on chapter webpage with their status and description and meeting times etc
- Newsletter for volunteers
The workshop started with everyone jotting down their thoughts on questions related to Asha’s goals, how we are doing against our objectives and looking at where we are lacking. The initial thoughts on perceptions on Asha’s goals were:
- Primarily supporting grass root organizations financially. Only occasional effort to go beyond monetary funding.
- Definitely more than funding organizations (close monitoring of projects)
- Some sort of learning is happening but more is required.
- Empowering marginalized by means of education.
- Non-Asha people (mostly donors) consider Asha as a funding organization
The next question that we spent time on was what should Asha’s goals be? What should be it’s charter? Should we continue the current ‘funding projects’ based approach or there needs to be some fundamental change in the way we work? Can learning be integrated with the existing framework or it will remain as a ‘good to have’ feature. We went around the room and let everyone share their thoughts on this. Few points that we all agreed on were:
- We should move towards a combined approach – where we continue with our current project based approach and at the same time move towards rights and policy based approach - taking up work in those areas
- Improve Efficiency & Accountability
- Learning (project based as well as issue based) – make it a more integral part of our work. Specially sharing of learning across projects was felt to be highly important by all
One question that was raised was, how we could make sure that these approaches co-exists and Asha can become a forum for volunteers with varied interests without getting into any "less or more important" complexities. Here is what came out from the discussion:
- Having more talks (local NGOs, flying in people from India)
- Partnering with other organizations (schools or folks who are experts in the field)
- Understanding and Learning and Networking
- Introduction + discussion on various issues in the chapter meetings (with a slot for discussing a point of the issue being discussed in focus groups and also making the content of meeting more predictable)
- Additional meetings to incorporate the issue based topics
- Changing the perception of Asha Seattle
- Investigating changing the perception of Asha Wide
- Revamping new volunteer orientation session and donor outreach
- Documentaries and discussion and debate
- Volunteers to work with local NGOs
- Volunteer recruitment
- Buddy program: Promoting the program at
- Diversify volunteer base
- Advertisement of focus groups amongst the volunteers (prospective and current)
- Making focus group articles available to all the volunteers.
- Adding more updates to newsletters (Asha Kiran).
- Publishing articles for local/international newspaper dailies.
- Workshop outcomes as a part of Asha Kiran (newsletter).
- Chapter-wide updated by the chapter coordinator in the beginning of the meeting.
- Initial project discussions should also be part of project focus groups and brought to general meeting after that
- Considering joining NAFRE or other similar organizations
- Having a discussion on time distribution of the chapter as a whole.
- Volunteer Punctuality for the meetings
- Asha Seattle to participate in overall Asha wide governing team