By Clint Robert Niehus, Fundraising Specialist at Generations For Peace
We all want to know that our support and money, time and resources, are being used effectively. This might mean finding the best price at the supermarket or taking a route that avoids traffic on the way to work. In peacebuilding, it means effectively impacting a large group of people and the key people who influence them for the lowest cost possible, knowing that we will see a longer-term benefit both socially and economically.
The costs of conflict response consume the budgets of many countries and organisations around the world, with varying levels of success. Preventative action, however, has been shown to be more cost-effective than actions taken to end conflicts that have already broken out. In fact, some studies suggest that a well-developed system for preventing the outbreak of violence would have an average net savings of up to US$70 billion per year, depending on estimated rates of success.
We invest in peacebuilding projects not only because of the effect they have in communities experiencing or facing signs of conflict, but because of the cost-effectiveness they foster in the long-run by preventing that conflict: for every $1 spent on ‘upstream’ conflict prevention, $16 is saved on the ‘downstream’ costs of violent conflict.
One simple yet worthwhile way to contribute to peacebuilding is to invest in organisations that not only promote violence prevention, but also are cost-effective in their programming and methods.
There are many strategies an organisation can implement in order to remain cost-effective. Generations For Peace (GFP), for example, relies upon our grassroots, volunteer-led model to ensure that the programmes we implement are both effective in addressing the underlying issues behind conflict and effective in cost. Using a unique curriculum, GFP empowers local volunteers with the practical peacebuilding knowledge and skills, allowing them to implement grassroots programmes at a low cost. Those volunteers train other volunteers, creating a cascading model for empowerment. This process ensures two things: that the causes of conflict is identified and addressed by the knowledge and talents of those personally experiencing it and that the money used to fund our programmes has direct impact.
Take, for example, the recent expansion of the Maharati (‘My Skills’) Programme in Jordan. Founded in 2015 and using innovative sport-based activities to develop life skills and foster social cohesion, the Programme expanded to 40 youth centres in its first two years of operation. Then, in 2018, it took a major step forward in sustainability as it was institutionalised in the Jordanian Ministry of Youth, reaching all 188 youth centres and directly impacting 45,000 youth and adolescents. GFP has demonstrated the success of its model in local impact and overall cost-effectiveness through initialising the programme, training volunteers to lead it, and now working to increase the capacity of the Ministry of Youth to sustainably administer it in the long-term. This empowerment of individuals and governments to run their own peacebuilding programmes encourages sustainability both through financial and peacebuilding lenses.
Another method GFP uses to increase both programme impact and financial sustainability is working with local partners to ask for ‘value-in-kind’ donations or support. Since GFP does not have full-time staff on the ground in most of the countries and communities in which we work, we ask our local partners to provide space for our volunteers to prepare programming and hold activities, and assist with internet access or other relatively low-cost services that allow us to expand our efforts. The multi-year support GFP has received from Orange Jordan, for example, has always included significant value-in-kind support in the form of mobile and internet service, the accessibility and speed of which allows GFP to continue to produce effective and impactful programming.
The effects and cost-effectiveness of peacebuilding are far-reaching: when implemented well, they can contribute to conflict prevention and transformation while promoting financial sustainability and, thus, programme breadth and longevity. Investing in preventative measures and in the organisations that keep their operating costs low, supporters can assure their contribution is having the maximum impact.
Whether via social media, financial donation, value-in-kind, or by word of mouth, your support makes our peacebuilding efforts possible and contributes to the empowerment and resilience of today’s youth as they build peace for the next generation.