The Spring 2023 General Assembly of EU-CORD was held in Brussels and was our largest gathering to date, with 51 attendees comprising both returning and new faces. The event was a joint General Assembly and Funding and Partnerships Forum, and several highlights emerged from the two-day event.
In some Christian traditions we say ‘Yahweh’ as an in-out breathing meditation. And I often think of the General Assembly as this in-out breath. On the first day we breathe in what the programme has to offer, and hold it for a little time, on the second – we breathe out our response as we listen and talk. Ruth Faber, EU-CORD CEO
A Moment for Strategic Partnership
One of the major highlights was the signing of a strategic partnership agreement between Fida and Hungarian Baptist Aid. This agreement will enable both organisations to simplify partnership arrangements and work together more closely and effectively in advancing shared mission and goals.
Professional Christian NGO Session
Another key event at the General Assembly was a discussion session on what it means to be a professional Christian NGO.
The CEO and Senior Leaders group explored this topic. Christine Mbito from the Kenyan organisation Viwango and Josephine Sundqvist, General Secretary of LM International, shared their insights and challenges in a session moderated by Floris Faber, Director, ActAlliance EU.
The conversation revealed that demonstrating professionalism in terms of standards, policies, and ways of working is well understood, but the people dimension is fundamental. It is mission-critical that organisations can recruit and grow people who will embody organisational values.
During the discussion, it became apparent that finding individuals with both the necessary technical competencies and a compatible value base presents a significant challenge for recruitment. In addition, CEOs face other recruitment-related obstacles, including managing remuneration expectations, expanding leadership teams, and benchmarking.
Reframing Partnerships – work continues
We also picked up the conversation started last year around analysing and strengthening the partnership relationship between EU-CORD members – Northern NGOs and their Southern partners. This has the potential to be a key piece of work for the network, and members interested in this initiative are encouraged to contact the Secretariat for more information.
New EU-CORD Member and Administrative Council Member
During the General Assembly, IAS Denmark was welcomed as a new member of EU-CORD. Agnese Kroese, CEO of Dorcas, was elected as a new member of the Administrative Council. The Council was also reinforced with the reappointment of Dietmar Roller (IJM Netherlands), Chris Lukkien (ZOA), and Any Pask (Cord). With Anne Haverinen (Fida), Markus Ask (LM International), and Gladstone Worthington (Leprosy Mission International).
In addition to voting on new members and administrative council members, the General Assembly appointed new auditors, and approved the 2022 accounts and 2024 strategic budget.
EU-CORD CEO Reflections
The General Assembly formally approved the 2023 workplan, and EU-CORD CEO Ruth Faber reflected on the two flagship projects for 2023 – the Climate Study and In-Country Forums.
The first phase of the climate study involved a rapid qualitative data collection of how members viewed the climate crisis and how they felt it would impact their work. The second part of the study will look more deeply at what members are doing–especially regarding programming and advocacy. Ruth also outlined how the Secretariat had organised itself to better support the In-Country Forum initiatives. EU-CORD is also stepping up its engagement in the Partnership for Religion and Development (PaRD).
Funding and Partnerships Forum
The Funding & Partnerships meeting featured several speakers who shared their insights and expertise on different topics related to managing donor relationships, disability inclusion, and engaging with European foundations.
Antonia Prentice-Potter from Alliance2015 and Milward Mwamvani from LM International spoke at the session on managing the Brussels EU donor relationship. They shared their experiences and insights on engaging with the EU effectively and the role that CEOs can play in supporting that interaction.
The See You Foundation led the session on disability inclusion, providing practical tools and examples of disability-inclusive programming in TVET education.
Annette Lukkien (Dorcas) and Nadège Lharaig from the Network of European Foundations spoke at the session on engaging with European foundations and discussing strategies for building effective collaborations with foundations in Europe and beyond.
The next General Assembly will be held in The Netherlands on the 6th and 8th of November alongside the Advocacy Forum. The subsequent Funding and Partnerships Forum will be a virtual gathering on the 21st and 22nd of November.
Since its inception, EU-CORD members have gathered twice a year as the General Assembly. In recent years, the General Assembly has been held alongside the physical gathering of one of our programme groups. Member CEOs and Senior Leaders attend the General Assembly. It includes a light but robust governance session, with most of the time given to input and discussion on topics that matter to the CEO and Senior Leaders group. It is an important moment for relationship building and investing in the trust capital that underpins collaborative approaches to our work. An essential part of this is the time we spend in prayer for each other.