Minority Rights Group International (MRG) Deputy Director, Claire Thomas, writes this opinion piece for the Thomson Reuters News Foundation.+ LEARN MORE
Becoming an MRG partner
We start a new formal partnership with another organization in one of three ways:
1. We get approached
A minority and indigenous led or minority and indigenous rights focused organization facing discrimination, exclusion, persecution or climate injustice writes to us and asks us to work with and support them.
MRG is not a donor organization. It is rare for our work with partners to result from someone submitting a proposal and MRG deciding whether or not to support it. Instead, if a potential partner approaches us and we decide to work together, we co-design an intervention that both we and they feel will make a difference in their community and we seek project funding for that work together. This means we are not in a ‘donor: grantee’ relationship but rather have a more equal partnership where we work closely together and report to a donor who is a third party.
We work with partners where our aims and values and the partner’s aims and values match closely, where we can add value to the partner’s work through our knowledge, contacts and experience and where the partners’ work fits well with our strategy. We never work with partners solely to provide financial support without supporting in other ways.
If a potential new partner approaches us, we will see whether it duplicates existing work (if it does we will not take forward the potential partnership), whether MRG’s skill set and the partners are a good fit and there are sufficient shared aims, values and strategic fit. If so, we will, as mentioned, normally co-create some potential interventions and will then see if we can identify together and apply for a suitable source of finance. Depending on how well we know the partner and how high their level of experience is, sometimes we submit the application in our name and then grant on the funding to the partner or sometimes the partner applies, secures the funding, and then sub-contracts us to support them to do the work, where needed.
The need for support to those facing discrimination in the world today Is unfortunately very high and we are a relatively small organization, and so we can’t help everyone who approaches us, but we will consider any approaches and will reply even if we can’t help immediately or at all.
Although we normally prefer to work with minority and indigenous led organization or those squarely focused on tackling minority and indigenous rights issues, we do sometimes involve a consortium of organizations which bring together not only minority and indigenous community involvement and viewpoints but also other important skills, influence, contacts or resources. We will expect the non-minority or indigenous led or focused partner(s) to be extremely sensitive to giving space to, listening properly to and taking and offering opportunities to add to the capacity of the minority and indigenous led organizations in any consortium as a condition of our work with wider focused and majority led organizations.
2. We approach someone
We become aware of serious minority and indigenous rights abuses in a country and we reach out to see if we can find a suitable organization to work with to tackle this together.
In this case, the need for the work is identified by MRG’s own staff or contacts and we need to be careful that interventions are locally owned and as sustainable as possible. It is also critically important to ensure that any intervention does address the real needs of minority and indigenous communities and that it will not make things worse. It is rare for us to begin work in this way and, we do not respond to external calls to do so.
3. Through open calls
We publish an open call for proposals that allows organizations working in a particular country to apply for a piece of work that they have designed.
In a few cases, a donor prefers to provide a sum of money to MRG, which we then sub-grant after issuing an open call for proposals to support minority and indigenous rights work in a particular country, in a region or for work of a particular type. These are normally small or micro grants. All calls are published on our website. It is quite common for an open call to follow a training programme and may be designed to allow trainees to put into practice some of what they have learned. Sometimes, we may follow up a small grant by working with a grantee to design a follow up or new piece of work together (as described above) and seeking funding for that.
If you ever have a concern or a complaint about the way anyone associated with MRG has treated you, please contact us. Any feedback will be independently and as far as possible confidentially investigated. We want to hear from you if you are unhappy about anything in our relationship.
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