General Assemblies can be fun!
A case study of the Taiwan NPO Self-Regulation Alliance.
Most non-profit organisations (NPO) hold annual general assemblies for their membership to decide the organisation’s strategic direction, key policies and to be updated on significant organisational information.
In recent years, the CP Yen Foundation has worked with a variety of non-profits, government agencies, and private enterprises to promote dialogue within their organisations. The Taiwan NPO Self-Regulation Alliance has been our collaborative partner for a long time, and we are grateful for the Alliance’s trust in us and for its recognition of the power of dialogue. The Alliance has used participatory processes in their board’s strategic planning meetings and in their general assembly as a way to enrol participation in the development of the organization’s goals such as the “philanthropic accountability standards” and the “UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals“. The Alliance’s assistance to a variety of NPOs to help them grow and transform with a commitment to progressive social change has been an inspiring experience for the CP Yen Foundation. This newsletter shares some of the Alliance’s experiences and insights in conducting participatory meetings and dialogues.
The Taiwan NPO Self-Regulation Alliance was established in 2005 by 30 professional non-profit organizations with the mission to promote transparent financial reporting, integrity of fund-raising activities, efficacy of services and accountability. There are currently 227 NPO members in the alliance. The Alliance serves as a platform for assisting charity organizations to endorse a “NPO Self-Regulation Pledge”, compiling information for promoting “philanthropic accountability standards”, and helping NPOs evaluate the organization’s mission statements, governance, finance and provision of relevant trainings. The Alliance is entrusted by the government to establish a “Social Enterprise Enlistment Platform” in which the Alliance enlisted 60 enterprises and 41 cooperative organizations and nonprofit organizations on the platform in 2015.
The Alliance’s members come from diverse professional backgrounds. To facilitate exchanges among them, in 2013 the Alliance incorporated dialogues in their discussions of accountability guidelines for Taiwan’s NPOs. Through these discussions, the members were able to reach consensus in their position on accountability and in drafting accountability guidelines appropriate for Taiwan. Since then, the Alliance has also invited members to share their practices in accountability and to build up a trusting relationship among members so the system of self-regulation can operate more effectively.
Based on past successes, the Alliance continues to use dialogue for discussion on social innovation. Since one of the functions of social work is to prevent social maladjustment, the Alliance has prioritised discussion on the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Discussion participants selected seven of these goals for further exploration, including no poverty, quality education, gender equality, sustainable cities and communities, good health and wellbeing, decent work and economic growth, and peace, justice and strong institutions. In small groups the participants shared what they felt were Taiwan’s challenges and opportunities in each these seven goals. From this reflection the participants developed their own vision and action plans. Goals discussed in the groups reflected Taiwan society’s high value for social justice, employment and economic development. The participants were confident that with sufficient educational support, society could resolve the challenges they face and also enable sustainable development for Taiwan’s future. Through dialogues, participants stepped outside the box of their habitual organisational thinking, and further considered new collaborative relationships with other organizations.
Dialogues focus on communication to enable people to take the next practical step forward. As a platform for NPOs, the Taiwan NPO Self-Regulation Alliance works to address issues faced by society, to enable their member organisations to development sustainably and to overcome challenges that they may face during times of change. The Alliance consolidates resources from government, private, and non-profit sectors to assist members in developing strategies for sustainable development. By responding to social issues more efficiently and providing products and services that are close to society’s needs, the Alliance has become a service provider and initiator of sustainable growth in Taiwan’s non-profit sector.