PCDForum Column #41,    Release Date July 20, 1992

by John Roughan

In the Solomon Islands many people think getting project
money is like magic. You write a proposal and, if fate
favors you, the money falls from the sky. Actually,
following three simple rules can greatly increase the prospect of a favorable funding response. More important, it
will result in sound development practice.

RULE 1: Do Work First

This rule is the hardest for project holders to accept.
“How can I do the work if I need money to start,” they
say? Notice I didn’t say you should do the work for which
you are requesting funds. Rather demonstrate your
commitment and ability to do what can be done with your
own resources–which, after all, is what development is
about–before you seek outside money. Conducting
meetings, making a paper plan, and then asking for
someone else’s money has only demonstrated the ability
to write a project proposal.

In the 1960s a village man wouldn’t know what you
were talking about if you asked for a project proposal.
Over the past three decades, however, project proposal
writing has become a village growth industry. The paper
with the proposal is treated almost as a magic talisman.
This misses an important point.

Funding bodies most often back those groups that
demonstrate they work together as a community, are in
charge of their daily lives, and have strong, dedicated
leadership. These are things outside money cannot buy.
Without them no project will succeed. Groups with such
qualities can often point to years of successful experience
using their own resources to benefit the community–for
example, creating a drainage system that keeps down mosquitoes, keeping their surroundings clean and healthy,
and constructing strong houses. Experienced funders can
be confident that money invested in such groups will be
used well. Their requests for funds have a fighting chance
of being heard.

The example of Komuniboli village on the Guadalcanal plains comes to mind. Sosimo Kuki, the leader of
the village decided that a vocational training center was
needed. He and his people cleared a site, put up three
buildings constructed of local materials–a sleeping house,
a classroom and a simple kitchen–and began giving
lessons using local craftsmen.

They did work first–before asking for help. They
used their own money to buy equipment, used their own
trees, and built with their own leaves, posts and bamboo.
They strengthened and demonstrated their capability to
make effective use of their own talent and resources.
Later when they asked for overseas aid to host a meeting
of the Rural Training Centre Association, which more
than 35 people attended, their request was heard.

RULE 2: Make Reports

A group of village people who really do work together to
make their own lives cleaner, safer, healthier and more
fruitful must make written reports about it. Village people
often hate to make written reports. We prefer to talk
about what we did. Here is where we make a mistake.

It is not enough to talk to funders about what our
village or group has accomplished. It has to reach them in
the form of a paper that makes it hard to forget. At the
same time preparing a report requires we take time to
reflect on our experience in ways we otherwise might
neglect. Preparing a report makes it more likely we will
identify and articulate what we have learned. It gives our
organization a permanent record for future reference.

RULE 3: Share the Reports

The last rule is that reports must be distributed. Henry
Tabusu of the Tauba Training Centre in North Malaita
follows this rule. Each time the Centre gives a course on
sewing or agriculture or literacy he reports it to the
provincial authorities, the Solomon Islands Development
Trust, overseas funding groups and others. The Tauba
Training Centre is now more than six years old and going
strong. It is highly regarded by funding groups because
they know what it is doing and how it is helping island
groups work together. It is also well known to other
groups that might want to draw on its services.

In the end our goal is our own development. Outside
funding is only a means–not the end. By following these
rules we will not only be more effective fund raisers, we
will build our capacities to do more with our own resources. We will be developing ourselves.


Dr. John Roughan heads the School of General Studies at the
Solomon Islands College of Higher Education, P.O Box G23,
Honiara, Solomon Islands, South Pacific. He was previously
advisor to the Solomon Islands Trust. This column was prepared
and distributed by the PCDForum based on his article “Ting Ting
Long Mi” in The Solomons Voice.

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