Have you Considered Using the ABCD Model to Finance your NGOs’ Actions?

Have you Considered Using the ABCD Model to Finance your NGOs’ Actions?

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For many years, civil society organisations (CSOs) depended on external funding to propel their activities and projects. With the rise in dwindling donor funding, CSOs are unable to get sufficient funding to implement and manage their projects, programmes and organisational development. This has provoked CSOs into identifying alternative ways to fund their activities without being over-reliant on donors. It is on this basis that the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in collaboration with STAR Ghana Foundation, under the Giving for Change (GfC) programme organised a webinar series titled: Alternative Financial Models for Civil Society Organisatons. The objective of the webinar series was to introduce civil society organisations and actors across West Africa to three alternative funding mechanisms through shared learning and experiences from community foundations and grant makers in Africa.  

The first webinar under this series focused on the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) model. The webinar was organised on 29 September 2022 with 11o participants from across Africa. As chair, Ruwadzano Patience Makumbe, a research fellow at WACSI and two seasoned guest speakers, Omolara Balogun, the head of Policy Influencing and Advocacy, WACSI and Bernie Dolly, Executive Director of Ikhala Trust, led the conversation. 

Introduction to the Asset-based community development model 

Omolara Balogun in her delivery – illustrated in figure 1 below – introduced CSOs to the ABCD model as an alternative model which organisations can leverage to mobilise resources for their programmes and institutional development. 

Figure 1: Introduction to the ABCD Model. Source: WACSI, 2022

Omolara indicated that the ABCD model is about assessing the strengths that organisations possess and building on that to foster their dreams and ambitions.

It entails allocating roles and power to every member of the community and believing that everyone has something to offer for the growth of the community,” she stated.

She presented participants with the benefits of the model, accentuating its ability to help cultivate relationships among members and provide a means of assigning more roles and power to community members and local institutions.

Omolara shared different types of assets organisations and communities possess which can be strengthened to foster growth. They include the people, economy, institutions, associations, the physical and natural spaces and their stories and histories.

Using the leaky bucket as an example, Omolara guided participants through various mechanisms which could be used to identify and mobilise the different types of assets, paying keen attention to some of the natural assets around the communities which most organisations did not consider as assets. She encouraged participants to have a retaining culture in order to have adequate resources thereby ensuring financial sustainability

Nonetheless, for the ABCD model to be successful, there are key principles which organisations and communities need to adopt. Thus, ABCD should be citizen-centered, completely asset-based, inclusive and participatory, internally focused and should be driven by relationships.



Figure 2: Illustration of the leaky bucket

After the amazing presentation by Omolara, participants were permitted to ask questions, get clarifications and make recommendations and/or proposals. The questions asked revolved around strategies for effective communication, convincing donors that community solutions need to be community-driven and encouraging colleagues to use their skills when they are employed for specific purposes.  Participants were challenged to move from a needs-based perspective to focusing on identifying the resources they have as an organisation, which are useful in the activities they carry out and link them to the challenges and problems they face.

Experience sharing from IKhala Trust

Ikhala Trust had been advocating for the ABCD approach in South Africa for a very long time.

Figure 3: Overview of the ABCD Model

Source: WACSI, 2022


In sharing Ikhala Trust’s experience, Bernie Dolly mentioned the need to start planting seeds in the communities through listening to their stories and helping them identify potential assets within themselves and their communities. When communities are properly exposed to this philosophy, it no longer is considered a method but a way of being and a way of living.

“If ABCD is not transforming me as a vehicle through which this work must happen, then it is not going to happen at the community level. You, as the person advocating and pushing this agenda have to believe it yourself, because if you don’t, it is very difficult to convince anybody else that this approach actually works,” Bernie Dolley.

In highlighting the work Ikhala Trust is doing, she stressed that they only supported communities that had already initiated projects using their own assets. They call this the ‘leverage fund’. The objective is to enable organisations to start focusing on the assets they have which are not always money related and leverage their human, social, environmental, and cultural assets. Some key points she asked participants to reflect on was on how their organisations work within their communities and their level of commitment to change. It is worth noting that Ikhala Trust’s successes did not go by without failures, but they continue to focus on working from the appreciation rather than starting with the challenges.

In her concluding remarks, Omolara encouraged participants to work on putting in place an ABCD system that they can always fall back on if the other models fail. Bernie on her part acknowledged the flexibility and adaptability of the model as it could be incorporated into any system. They both expressed their joy in having this opportunity to engage with participants and were hopeful that participants will embrace and push this philosophy in order to overcome the challenges faced by their communities.

No Community has nothing.


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Fiifi is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Communications and Information Officer at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. He joined the Institute in December 2020.


Nancy is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Programme Officer in the Knowledge Management unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute. She joined the Institute in January 2021.


Agnes is a Ghanaian and currently serves as Head of the Administration unit in the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2021.


Doris holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social sciences (Economics and Sociology) from the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about impacting young lives hence co-founded Impart Foundation. A non-profit organization which seeks to empower young lives through education, technology and entrepreneurship.


Prince Akowuah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Assistant in the Translation Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Maxwell Apenteng is a Ghanaian and joined WACSI in September 2010. He provides gardening and janitorial services at the Institute.


George Adu-Mintah is a Ghanaian and currently the Protocol Assistant/Driver at the West Africa Civil Society (WACSI). He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Ibrahim Kwaku Gbadago is a Ghanaian. He joined the Institute in 2008 and provides janitorial services and assisting the institute's errands. Before joining the Institute, he worked at the Palestinian embassy in Accra, Ghana.


Ruth Yakana is from Cameroon and currently the Receptionist at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


Bethel is a Ghanaian. He provides technical and IT related support to the Institute. He joined the Institute in October 2006.


Whitnay Segnonna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in International Management from the University of Benin. With 2 years of experience, she has a strong knowledge of organizational and project management. Combined with her bilingualism, she is very passionate about her work. She joined WACSI as Project Assistant on Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) for the Capacity Development Unit.


Stella Yawa Wowoui holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Translation Studies. She has a perfect grasp of both French and English, as well as an intermediate level in Spanish. She is currently working as a Project Assistant on the Techsoup Project.


Kwame is an experienced IT Consultant/Software Developer. He is skilled in Web Applications Development, Digital Security, Database Management, Digital Marketing and Brand Management. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Technology and is a Microsoft Programme Alumni. He is currently serving as a Marketing and IT Officer on the Techsoup Project.


Grace Akpene Ziggah is a Togolese and currently the Logistics Officer and also assists in administration duties at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in June 2009.


Lilian Dafeamekpor is a Ghanaian and currently the Assistant to the Executive Director at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in 2020.


John P. Frinjuah has expertise and interests in civil society, international development, democracy and governance, conflict, crisis, and security. He has extensive experience working with civil society and international development organizations where he supported and managed research, programmes, and provided technical assistance on a variety of themes around public policy, governance, and development. He is an alumnus of the University of Ghana and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy - Tufts University in the United States, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from two institutions respectively. John speaks English, French and several Ghanaian and regional West Africa languages.


Gervin has extensive international development experience, including 5 years of policy advocacy and capacity building of grass root organisations. He has implemented over the years a combination of agriculture value chain, livelihood, food security and governance and rights programmes.
Prior to joining WACSI, Gervin worked on two USAID projects focusing on agriculture value chain development and governance in northern Ghana
Gervin holds a master’s degree in development & Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany as well as a Masters in Global Studies from the Universities of Vienna (Austria), Leipzig (Germany) and California (Santa Barbara), USA. He is passionate social justice and inclusion.


Leandre Banon, Beninese, joined WACSI in September 2014 as Capacity Development Programme Assistant. Since then, he has worked in various units within the Institute to support operational and institutional capacity strengthening programmes for civil society in the region. Currently serving as Capacity Development Programme Officer at WACSI, his main responsibilities involve designing, planning, implementing and monitoring capacity development programmes for civil society constituents and grouping across the West Africa. Leandre is a certified Change the Game Academy Programme Trainer. His background lies in the areas of economics and development planning.


Samuel Appiah is a Ghanaian and currently the Programme Officer in the Finance and Administrative Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in May, 2016.


Jimm Chick Fomunjong, Cameroonian, joined WACSI in May 2018 as the Head of the Knowledge Management and Communication Units of the Institute. He has over ten years’ experience as a journalist and a development communications expert. He has a vast experience in supporting African organisations to strengthen their internal and external communications, building and sustaining relationships with the media and, leveraging on the power of social media to promote their mission. He is also excellent at supporting organisations to set up and operationalise functional communications and knowledge management systems. He has a deep passion and expertise in supporting Africans and African civil society organisations to document their praxis, share and learn from experiences documented from the African civil society sector.


Franck Sombo is a development practitioner with the drive to lead self and others to influence productivity and efficiency. His work involves supporting organisations to develop strategic plans, design monitoring and evaluation systems, develop and use relevant performance measurement tools to track progress, assess organizational growth and institutionalise learning. Franck has eight years of experience working with WACSI where he currently serves as the Head, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning. His academic qualifications include Masters in Organisations’ and Projects’ Management, and in Business Sciences and a High National Diploma in Finance and Accounting.

Franck is a Fellow of the International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) and a graduate of the Graduate Training Institute (GTI) - Ghana with specialization in Strategic Management and Corporate Leadership. He has a rich experience in Project Management, Capacity Development, Strategic planning, Data Analytics, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training and Facilitation, Mentoring and Coaching among others.


Omolara is a development practitioner and advocacy strategist with over 15 years of progressive experience in development programming targeted at strengthening civil society in West Africa.

She joined WACSI in November 2009 as a Regional Advocacy Consultant and later became the first Policy Advocacy Officer of the Institute in 2010.

She was promoted to Head of the Policy Influencing and Advocacy (PIA) Unit in 2015. As the Head of the PIA unit, Omolara offers strategic direction to the Institutes’ ambitions to connect and convene groups of organised and organic civil society actors; and influence regional and global discourses on crosscutting policy issues including—civil society regulations, sustainable development goals, civic space and enabling environment, aid effectiveness, gender equality, and civil society accountability.

Previously, Omolara served as a Programmes Associate with the Women in Peace and Security Network-Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), where she worked with her team to design and implement pan-African programmes on—multidimensional peace support operations and gender mainstreaming in security sector reform in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

She also served as a Service Development Marshal at TVQ Consulting Group, a customer service firm focused on designing strategic customer relationship and business growth plans for private and public financial institutions in Nigeria.

Omolara is a social justice advocate, a network weaver, and a convener. She has a postgraduate degree in Peace and Conflict Studies; a degree in International Relations and History, from the University of Ibadan and Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria respectively.

She also holds executive certificates in Behavioral Science in Public Policy from Harvard University Executive Education in Cambridge and in Citizen Advocacy from the Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University in Canada.


Kwabena Kroduah is a Ghanaian and currently heads the Finance Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). He joined the Institute in January 2008.


Charles currently serves as the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). Charles has over 10 years of experience working in international development and social justice issues in Africa. Charles has expertise in strengthening civil society and public agencies including the design and implementation of governance and leadership programmes, development of knowledge pieces and policy advice. Charles was the founding Board Chair of Innovation for Change (i4C)-Hub Afrique, as well as the founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon), an initiative of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC. Charles currently serves as the Member of the Governing Board (Coordination Collective) of Africans Rising. He is a Member of the Development Studies Association, United Kingdom. Charles is a 2017 Stanford University Fellow for Nonprofit Leaders and a certified Change the Game Resource Mobilisation Trainer.


Nana Afadzinu is a Ghanaian and currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). She joined the Institute in October 2010.