Projects Dual-Cycle Policy - evolving draft for chapter-wide discussion


Preamble:

We are discussing how feasible it is to have an additional funding cycle - the so-called dual cycle - for the chapter. The pros and cons of it, and how to devise a cautious yet effective policy. We are also considering our outlook and vision for long-term projects to which we are committed over the years.

Proposition:


1a. In regular cycle (proposals in May, voting in June), accept proposals from existing and new projects. So in regular cycle we consider all projects that need 2K or over.

1b. With new project practices in place, the stewards should have a fairly good idea of the projects' plan for the next 2-3 years. By December, we must have a round of fresh site-visits made (also when most people go home!). By end-January, have an evaluation cycle where the steward gives a projected minimum estimated budget for next regular cycle. For projects being supported for 3+ years, the stewards should have identified one of the most important aspects (maximum impact policy) and pledge accordingly to keep supporting it. The project partner should be encouraged to actively look for alternative source of funding for other aspects.

2a. In dual cycle (proposals in Feb, voting in March), accept proposals from new projects only (<2K). Dual cycle to be conducted if and only if
"available funds in end-Jan (after marathon accounts closure)" > "total projected budget (1b.)".

Purpose and rationale: The purpose of the dual cycle is to achieve greater disbursement ratio while not adversely affecting our collaboration with ongoing projects. (On the other hand, the Asha model of support needs to be spread to a wider audience. The utopian scenario would be for Asha to intervene in as many projects in the right time of need and help them attain stability.) Hence, only low-budget proposals will be accepted (if there are funds) in the dual cycle.

2b. In dual cycle, if an applying new project needs more than 2K, it has to submit a separate project proposal for the extra amount requested, to be considered during regular cycle (or ask steward to apply for Asha-wide funds).

3. In the dual cycle we should not use more than say 40% of the funds available (the number can be debated) as continuing projects would have to be funded in the regular cycle. And in between the dual cycle and the regular one we might not have a successful fundraiser.
(KB) Comment : This number can be estimated acc to 1b.

4a. Continuing Projects - Long Term outlook :- We should advocate a better and effective use of Asha-wide funds for projects we have been supporting for 3+ years. By now we trust these partners fully, know the exact needs and have a long-term plan in place. We also have the most dedicated stewards. This is the time we should nominate them for Asha-wide funds (that are lying in huge chunks in the bank anyways). The steward prepares the nomination and the chapter stands behind it as support. It will be a good trend to keep supporting these long time partners through Asha-wide (or Asha SV or other Asha chapters who have money but no projects). As a chapter, we make a financial exit, but continue to provide the best stewards and human support for the project!

4b. Someone should take up the action item to discuss the feasibility of this at Asha-wide level. The Projects coordinators (PS,JA) + the most-experienced stewards (PG,RN,AA) can form a team and take the lead. Have invited over Sridhar Desikan to share his views on this matter on the wiki.

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Related comments:
1. Do we have data to create a disbursement/fundraising ratio for the chapter? Can Prabhu set up one? It shows good on the chapter to have a high ratio. An additional funding cycle can raise this ratio. (Note: this info is made available in the Ashawide annual finance reports. See how CNJ fared in 2006 at https://www.ashanet.org/library/reports/2006-disbursement-ratios.pdf

2. Maybe the timeline should mention when the proposals are accepted. I suggest it must be 4 months before voting; and a cutoff must be 2-2.5 months before voting to ensure we have sufficient time to get a site-visit done, and discuss in the chapter properly
(KB) Add the proposal to the policy - 1c, 2c etc..

3. Having a steward who's very interested in the project from phase0 (after project is presented in the chapter), I think is an important requirement. Ofcouse we'll manage somehow to find a steward as we have in the past, but getting someone to show good deal of interest is key. Given what we know that stewards can make all the difference, I think its better to let a project go by if no one shows enough interest to be a steward. Also, preferably, steward should live in the same geographic region, where possible.
(KB) Very true. This should be weighted with an absolute yes/no in the project metrics.

4. if our goal is not to maximize #projects supported, we must be careful about #projects we can handle. I think in the long term we need to maintain a good balance between projects in different phases, to ensure we dont overstretch in terms of volunteers or funds. By phases I mean, brand new, recurring, and exit phase (we actively tell them and help them look for other partners) projects.

5. (Pravin) Since we dont have any (significant) spring fundraiser(s), our revenue by end of December is pretty much the revenue during May/June. Assuming we have dual funding cycle as proposed above, some new projects will apply for Feb cycle and have a <2K limit, while other new projects will apply for June cycle and have no such limit. Why such a discrepancy?
(KB) does 1b. (with 2b.) address this?

6. (Pravin) We have at present 9 currently funded projects, and 2 star projects - Home Sweet Home and Shishur Sevay, 11 projects is a big number, do we have enough funding and volunteer bandwidth available to support more projects? Maybe not, unless some existing project(s) do not submit a proposal (like Prabodhini this year).
(KB) an upper limit will be set automatically, when we won't have any more stewards to take up projects. So there is no fear of overstretching in terms of volunteer bandwidth. The funding overstretch can be prevented if we draft a suitable policy!