This has compelled most CSOs to model their activities to be delivered via online means. This makes it paramount for CSOs to adopt information and communication technologies (ICTs) and use the best practices for communication. This however constitutes one of the biggest challenges for CSOs during this sanitary crisis, as most of them have multiple stakeholders inside and outside the organisation and may have limited capacities to cope with digital technology.
Recognising this challenge, on 29 July 2020, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) organised a virtual training on Communication Skills and Sstrategy for 110 participants from CSOs in six West African countries including Cameroon,Liberia, The Gambia, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Cameroon.
The training sought to equip participants with the requisite skills and knowledge that will enable them to develop feasible communication strategies for their organisations and be able to write impact-driven stories to effectively communicate the accomplishments of their work.
Effective and strategic communication allows CSOs to influence stakeholders’ behaviour and involve them to support their work. It is therefore crucial for CSOs to know and understand their target audience to shape information strategically to capture their interest. Grasping an understanding of how to design engaging content to attract stakeholders can be tricky. Through the training, participants gained some tips on how to write impactful and meaningful stories.
Firstly participants were entreated on the need to plan, identify their target audience, decide on how to gather information, define the message they want to convey, and the most effective channel to use to convey the message and finally craft the goals they want to achieve for every communication endeavour.
Participants were also guided to write compelling articles that capture their organisation’s accomplishments.
“During the writing process, you need to be structure, clear, concise, captivating, and support your story with examples, illustrations, pictures, or videos. CSOs must also indicate what they are expecting from the readers with a call of action,” Christian Elongue, Knowledge Management Programme Officer at WACSI explained.
According to all the participants, the training was a success, and they look forward to getting more trainings from the Institute. A participant from Liberia was very delighted.
“I want to appreciate WACSI for this unique training and opportunity, and I look forward to getting more educated training from the institution to enhance our work, ” she said.
According to a participant from Nigeria, “WACSI has been very supportive and very beneficial in building our capacities”.
The training was delivered as part of a process to provide CSOs from six countries with skills and tools to make them more resilient during and post COVID-19. This is part of a project that seeks to understand the extent of the impact of COVID-19 on CSOs in West Africa with a focus on these six countries. The process involves a research study which is currently being conducted. Participants in this training work in organisations that responded to the survey that was administered as part of the training. Of the over 400 respondents of the survey, some 100 CSOs, selected from this pool, will also benefit from technological tools donated via Techsoup.
During the training, WACSI staff introduced the West Africa Civil Society E-Directory (www.csowestafrica.org) to the participants. This is a bilingual online platform that allows CSOs in the 15 ECOWAS countries and three other countries (Cameroon, Chad, and Mauritania) to freely share information on their work, learn about the work of other CSOs in other countries and connect with like-minded CSOs doing similar great work. This regional website is a platform for CSOs to share their stories, build partnerships and network, collect information on other CSOs activities, and get more visibility.
Do you work for a CSO in West Africa? Do you want to benefit from such training? If yes, please register on our E-Directory platform here. If you have difficulty in registering, please watch this explanatory video or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or +233501440545 (WhatsApp).
By Marilyne Agueh, Knowledge Management Programmes Associate, WACSI