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CESE starts new era running entirely virtual resource mobilization training for quilombolas, according to course participant

Defining the best strategies, planning activities and making joint use of communications tools were some of the main challenges addressed in the final meetings of the Virtual Training in Local Resource Mobilization for Quilombolas, held by the Ecumenical Coordination of Service (Coordenadoria Ecumênica de Serviço: Cese) in partnership with the Ford Foundation.  CESE is seeking to strengthen the capacities of organizations in this field, in order to help them build political and financial sustainability.

For weeks, the organization has brought together quilombola associations and communities from different states to exchange knowledge, share experiences and explain contents related to this theme.

This was the first time, in all the times that CESE has supported the resource mobilization of these groups, that the organization has run entirely virtual training.  The course included six online meetings, podcast production with complementary content and the post-course distance monitoring of activities. “CESE is starting a new era and a new way of running activities that achieves results for our organizations,” declared Magno Nascimento, from the África Quilombola Community (Pará).

For Sabrina Costa, from the Cristininha Quilombola Community in Goiás, the course provided an opportunity for learning and reflections. In her opinion, quilombola organizations have a lot of experience in social and political mobilization, but when it comes to resource mobilization, activities are not run strategically.  “We already had some idea of resource mobilization and we’ve held some events, but we didn’t know that there were so many possibilities.  We’re learning about several methodologies and techniques for resource mobilization, communications tools and the best way to reach our supporters, collaborators and volunteers.  There are different ways to approach resource mobilization and they all work,” she said, with a lot of optimism.

Rosana Fernandes, CESE Training and Projects Advisor, explained that, despite the multiple challenges to their existence and survival, particularly in the current context, the quilombola movement has guaranteed sustainability for its activities.  In her opinion, the course has achieved one of its objectives, which is to improve what the organizations already do: “This training has valued the exchange of experiences between communities, which, allied to CESE’s methodological support, seeks to strengthen relationship networks, to open up new fronts of support, as well as to seek out ways to approach and retain these partners.  And in this way, the organizations have started to adopt a new perspective about this field of operations,” declared Rosana, who is also one of the course facilitators.

Dialogic teaching, discussions about resource mobilization experiences and options for the use of communications tools, particularly when requesting individual donations, were combined with practical activities.

Among other activities, the participants were invited to think up a fictitious approach to a potential partner, including a meeting with an artist: all in order to test out how their eloquence, combined with the maximum possible information and the potential donor’s disposition influence the decisions of those who donate.  People were also encouraged to reflect on their contact networks, so that each group could have an idea of the networks they could exchange and access in partnership.

“It was very interesting to work out how to reach a donor.  We began to do training about the need for objectivity and brevity.  In most cases we had very little time to make the request.  It opened up new horizons,” said Jorlando Rocha from the State Coordination of Quilombola Communities of Tocantins (Coordenação Estadual das Comunidades Quilombolas do Tocantins: COEQTO).

One of the objectives achieved during the course referred to thinking about the direct application of content to the organizations’ activities.  Josivan Alves da Silva, from the National Commission for the Coordination of Black Rural Quilombola Communities (Coordenação Nacional de Articulação de Quilombos: CONAQ) shared his local experience of street markets as one possibility for making resources circulate within the community.  He explained how his perceptions have changed about the importance of planned activities to strengthen resource mobilization:

“We have a very strong oral culture. But this dynamic of putting things down on paper is only being acquired now, and the course is really helping us with this.  We run events and hold parties in our territories and in the churches, but without planning them. And very often, we spend a lot of money but only raise a little. We forget to check the weather forecast, or to make sure people are in charge of activities, or to work out all the costs, including the indirect ones.  We have learnt important tips to enhance our activities,” he reported.

Referring back to the beginning of the course, when participant expectations were discussed, Wilsara Alves de Souza, from the Nossa Senhora Aparecida Quilombola Community, said that her expectations had been surpassed: “Because it’s an online course and contains content that is new to my community, which just starting out, I was a bit afraid of accepting the invitation.  But CESE’s methodology and the space they provided to share the struggle and our experiences really helped us learn.  This brought me renewed strength.  I will miss the course, I’m leaving with a notebook full of notes and ideas,” she concluded.