Opening up UNDEF: sharing lessons learned from over 10 years of civil society projects

“What makes a good civil society project?” This was the question that drew representatives from NGOs to UN Headquarters to learn from UNDEF’s ten years of project funding and evaluation experience.

The UNDEF event co-hosted with World Federation of United Nations Associations, WFUNA, focused on how civil society organizations can learn from others’ experience to be more effective and create more sustainable impact in their activities. The New York presentation followed previous UNDEF pre-launch events in Brussels and Geneva.  

Some of the learning shared can be applied to many projects in different contexts and situations, such as being realistic in the geographic scope of activities. Other lessons were more specific to the particular challenges of working with vulnerable groups, such as rural women in conflict situations. Other subjects that were covered included how to build effective partnerships, communication and outreach, measuring project impact, and tips forwriting proposals. The panel also answered questions from civil society representatives in the room including on collaboration with the UN family, and the UNDEF grant application process.

There was also a preview of a soon to be launched interactive and dynamic online resource that will further open up the lessons from UNDEF’s evaluations. Civil society organizations and other stakeholders will be able to access easy to understand tips and tools to help improve project design, relevance, impact and sustainability.

Participants praised UNDEF for its transparency in sharing information about its funding and project management processes.

The event was webcast through UN TV and can be accessed here. 

The platform has been presented to civil society organizations at pre-launch events in New York, Geneva and Brussels, and will be shared widely by UNDEF programme officers on project missions to programme countries. 


Photo credit: WFUNA