Marissa Camacho is the chief of party of the USAID Strengthening the Capacity of Philippine Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Project. Photo credit: Ayala Foundation

Ayala Foundation became a USAID Forward partner in September 2011 when USAID/Philippines awarded to us the contract to implement the “Strengthening the Capacity of Philippine Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Project.” The goal of the project is simple: to strengthen the organizational capacity of over a hundred civil society organizations.

The project could not have come at a better time—the Aquino administration is expanding partnerships with civil society in new and exciting areas such as budget transparency, participatory audit, and even election campaign finance monitoring.

Our foundation works with a consortium of leading CSOs and networks in the country — Association of Foundations (AF), Caucus of Development NGO Networks (CODE NGO), Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), Philippine Council for NGO Certification (PCNC), and the National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) of the University of Philippines. With the support of these organizations, the project helped CSOs to respond to tremendous opportunities for engagement. It also served as a mechanism to pool a wide array of support for their initiatives. Aside from the funding component, USAID also shared its expertise in designing and delivering the training programs that will enhance the capacity of our mentee organizations in managing donor funds, monitoring and evaluation and project design.

In my conversations with participating organizations, they expressed appreciation for the opportunity to seriously assess their organization’s capability and effectiveness. They recognize that “putting their house in order” will increase their potential for partnerships and organizational sustainability. They are willing to invest time and resources to participate in the project because they see this as a meaningful opportunity to advance their development agenda.

I hope to see more donors adopt the USAID Forward model to expand partnerships and to enable local organizations to have a more active stake in the development of the country.

Marissa Camacho is the chief of party of the USAID Strengthening the Capacity of Philippine Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Project.