The Network Strengthening Program: Helping HIV and AIDS networks thrive

The proliferation of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in recent decades has led many small, like-minded NGOs to form collaborative networks to amplify their ability to advocate to local governments and donors. Networks provide a platform for regional organizations with shared objectives to speak with a collective voice, learn from each other, and progress towards a shared vision of the future.

Oftentimes, however, networks are operated as if they are typical NGOs, while ignoring the unique characteristics that differentiate them. The USAID-funded Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project developed the Network Strengthening Program (NSP) to help senior network managers gain a better understanding of the unique aspects of network management in five key areas:

  1. Membership
  2. Distributed Leadership
  3. Governance
  4. Financial Sustainability
  5. Communications for Resource Mobilization

The NSP can be used by network management teams to help identify which aspects of their network they need to strengthen and to develop action plans to achieve their goals. The program is delivered over the course of three workshops in a six-month period. The materials can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the network.

The LMG Project piloted the NSP with two networks in Malawi:

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Malawi Network of AIDS Service Organizations (MANASO)
is a network of health service delivery organizations focused primarily on HIV and AIDS at the community level.

Malawi Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (MANET+)
is an association of people living with HIV that coordinates member organizations and advocates for policy, plans, and programs to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV.

RESULTS
The results that MANET+ and MANASO achieved during the NSP pilot indicate that the program expanded each network’s capacity in key areas that will benefit network members and Malawi’s health sector overall.

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Replacement Funding

MANET+ improved coordination among network members, helping it win funding as a Global Fund sub-recipient. This funding helps the network continue to connect PLHIV with each other and with critically needed health and daily living resources while it seeks self-funding opportunities.

Download the Program

First Steps Toward Self-Sufficiency

MANASO engaged its board, secretariat, and members in an intensive effort to become self-sufficient. Setting membership fees aligned with member benefits, and a spirit of volunteerism re-ignited during the NSP, helped MANASO continue to build member capacity and to advocate for HIV prevention and care.

Read the Final Report

Advocacy and Contributions

Since the end of the program, MANASO reported increasing its visibility and influence for advocacy among national and international donors by using communications tools offered in the NSP, such as unique value statements highlighting the network’s contributions to stakeholders and in support of Malawi’s health sector.

Read the Technical Highlight