Two-day training on financial management targets ERA members in the Western Balkans and Turkey

Background

On 23 and 24 May ERA in cooperation with IGLYO hosted a two-day training on financial management in Belgrade, Serbia attended by more than 20 represetatives of ERA and IGLYO member organisations from the Western Balkans and Turkey region. Considering the ever-growing need for a stronger and more sustainable civil society in the region, ERA identified the topic of Financial Management as a gap of organizational capacity which is to be addressed through a training designed and facilitated by IGLYO.

IGLYO, represented by Tudor Kovacs, Programs Manager, and Euan Platt, Executive Director, designed and delivered the 2 day training on Financial Management with 20 participants from organisations in the Balkans area. The content and format of the training were designed based on the Experiential Learning Theory (Kolbe, McCarthy) which posits that people’s learning is more effective and durable if they follow the cycle of processing new experiences: exposure to a new experience, receiving information/knowledge about it, reviewing this knowledge through analysis and other cognitive processes, and applying the knowledge to a new real-life contextual situation. 

The content was also based on a typical flow of finances-related operations within an organization, progressing from budgeting, through transaction recording and processing, using financial procedures and regulations, using cashflow tools to manage multiple funding sources and expenses, and generating financial reports. 

During day 1, the training started with a motivational session, which looked into participants’ expectations, personal learning objectives, and personal obstacles to learning, aligning them to the objectives of the training as designed by IGLYO and identifying personal strategies to counteract the obstacles to effective learning. 

The participants were guided into identifying various types of project-related costs, and how these can be itemized, predicted and summarized into a budget. They simulated building a budget for an international event, including preparatory meetings and all cost-types typical of complex projects. 

After working with designing budgets, the participants began to analyze and manage various expenses and transactions, sharing best practices of costs logging and internal accounting from their various organisations. The trainers guided the participants through the process of logging expenses and the internal circulation of money as regulated by an organisation’s internal financial procedures: ordering and claiming expenses, getting advances, settling advances or claiming reimbursements, etc. There was a detailed exercise around financial procedures, as participants had the opportunity to share their practices and go through a peer critique discussion, trying to identify points of vulnerability in each other’s procedures. 

During day 2, the participants went through a review exercise in the form of a team competition. The facilitators introduced the concept of cashflow monitoring, and various tools that allow people working in financial departments or even programmes and project implementation to know at any given time how much funds they have available for various upcoming operations. Proceeding from cashflow monitoring, the participants worked to produce various financial reports based on a real-life expense log covering several projects and activities. 

After this, the participants engaged into a freely facilitated sharing workshop based on various topics of interest which they had identified during the previous day as raising the biggest or the most immediate challenges to their work. 

Towards the end of the second training day, the facilitators decided to introduce a new topic, based on the participants’ expressed needs and interest. A workshop on cycle-based fundraising was added to the agenda to respond to the majority of participants’ interest in learning about new effective ways to generate more financial resources for their organisations. 

The training was concluded by a thorough evaluation session, including quantitative learning indicators as well as qualitative feedback from the participants.

Evaluation

Overall, the participants expressed a high level of satisfaction for the training (94% of them completely agreed and agreed to having been satisfied with the training). 60% completely agreed and agreed that their learning objectives were met by their participation in the training. Almost 80% agreed and completely agreed that their understanding and control of budgeting has improved. More than 75% said that their ability to understand and manage financial procedures and regulations has improved. Almost 90% reported an increased self-confidence in working with finances within their organizations and 75% expressed a high level of intention of reviewing their financial procedures and processes upon their return home, as a result of their participation in the training. 

Note: This training summary was kindly provided by IGLYO