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EPF’s THEORY OF CHANGE

EPF operates with the belief that societies function best when people take responsibility for their own social and economic prosperity. EPF’s programs equip CSOs and individual civic activists to define and achieve outcomes of enduring benefit to themselves and their communities. We employ a demand-driven approach, which allows civil society actors to determine the issues that are of importance to their communities and to develop interventions that will be effective in addressing identified needs – a critical factor in a vibrant democracy. At the same time, EPF mobilizes communities and/or interest groups around specific issue areas to create demand for change. The Foundation’s approach is driven by the conviction that CSOs need to build their own local constituencies if they are to contribute to Georgia’s development in a meaningful way in the long term. To build such enduring constituencies, CSOs should work with citizens, informing them how to identify their communities’ needs and interests and help them in linking these needs to appropriate policy initiatives, engaging communities and the government to make tangible progress. EPF believes that directly engaging citizens in translating their interests into viable public policy will make CSOs more effective advocates and more compelling interlocutors with the government. EPF also believes that substantive and sustainable changes cannot be affected without issue-based partnerships between diverse groups of stakeholders. It is for this reason that EPF has made it its priority to nurture and promote public-private-NGO partnerships that contribute to consensus building and ensures participatory decision making. Such partnerships are also essential for fostering long-term CSO sustainability to address societal needs. Through its programs, EPF will continue implement its mission and, in the process, will unite local civil society’s efforts in the pursuit of our common goal: Georgia that is democratic, conflict-free, and with civically engaged citizens, socially responsible businesses, and sustainable, accountable, and effective third sector organizations.

PROGRAMMATIC MECHANISMS

EPF conducts operating programs and strategic grantmaking. The primary difference between the two is the locus of responsibility for program outputs and the mechanisms controlling financial expenditure. Grants allocate funding to outside partner organizations through a grant agreement and the responsibility for delivery of project outputs rests entirely with the grantee. In running operating programs, EPF directly manages project activities and takes upon itself ultimate responsibility for delivery of outputs and project results. Operating programs maintain EPF’s focus on revitalization of the civic sector and strengthening linkages between civic groups, private sector, public authorities, and communities, but they target these areas from a different angle than grants alone. They do so in three ways:

  • When there is a need for a convener or an intermediary among stakeholders on an issue, EPF can bring various groups together to improve collective action;
  • Operating programs allow for larger-scale, sustained interventions when a challenge cannot be addressed by a grants competition alone;
  • Through operating programs, EPF can leverage the achievements of individual activities and programs by many actors for long term, sustainable impact in a targeted field.

EPF’s grantmaking contributes to the achievement of the Foundation’s mission. To this effect, EPF supports demand-driven projects or new organizations with project ideas that fall within EPF’s programmatic or mandate areas at any time throughout the year. In addition, EPF also issues concrete requests for proposals (RFPs) to identify and support projects that contribute to a common programmatic theme. EPF’s approach to grants management is more than just a mechanism for disbursing funds – it is a tool that ensures accountability and builds the institutional capacity and internal controls of partner organizations. Before grant implementation, EPF staff work jointly with grant applicants on project design, implementation schedules, and evaluation processes, including establishing baselines and indicators. EPF program staff guide organizations through the grants process, helping them to build and mobilize a constituency, run a public outreach campaign, and strengthen the administrative systems of an organization. The application process even builds capacity among those that are not ultimately funded. The process ensures both sound program implementation with concrete results, and longer-term sustainability of projects and grantee institutions. Some of the grantees are also able to take advantage of EPF’s Organizational Development Initiative, which provides more focused advice on how best to improve the institutional capacity of the targeted CSOs.

CORE PROGRAMS The above-noted considerations are reflected in EPF’s operational and grantmaking interventions. During the next five years (2014-2019), EPF will focus its attention to contributing to improved civil society capacity and long-term sustainability to address societal needs. To do so, the Foundation’s Engage and Monitor for Change Program will work toward engaging local communities to enhance civil society influence on public decision making process. At the same time, EPF’s European Integration Program will ensure that civil society is engaged in and contributes to participatory decision making to achieve convergence to European values, standards, and practices. Through its Youth Integration Programthe EPF will continue to work with underserved youth to build their leadership capacity and enhance female and male youth volunteerism and civic engagement to address their own communities’ needs. By putting the concept of social enterprise on the policy agenda, the Foundation’s Social Enterprise (SE) Development Program will ensure that CSOs are increasingly utilizing the SE concept as one of the ways of attaining their long-term sustainability so as to address the needs of their vulnerable constituencies. By providing longer-term institutional strengthening grant support to regional CSOs and funding demand-driven projects developed by local CSOs and civic activists. EPFs Open Door Grantmaking Program will further contribute to improved civil society capacity and longer-term sustainability to address societal needs.

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