The involvement of the client or implementing organisation as an integral partner to the needs assessment (and subsequent program design) is an important investment in the building of capacity and ownership of the program. Experience has shown that BRIDGE programs are most effective when they are carefully tailored to the needs of participants; and this can be effectively achieved by developing and delivering them in partnership with local bodies that can contribute to and/or drive the customisation process. Potential partners include the following types of bodies:
Partnerships may be developed in various ways. In the first instance, EMBs in emerging democracies that are liaising with donors and receiving funds for electoral assistance may be introduced to the notion of using BRIDGE when discussing the type of assistance they require. As arrangements become more defined, a number of different bodies may form a consortium to deliver the program, with different partners making different contributions. Under such a model, it is important that respective responsibilities and spheres of action be clearly defined and understood. Alternatively, a single local agency may be developed as a partner in the delivery of a program. Again, it is important that responsibilities be clearly understood.
Choice of partners will depend on what potential partner organisations have to offer, as well as on the context in which the program is to be delivered. If, for example, the latter is to be but one element of a larger capacity building project being managed by a particular assistance provider, it would normally be essential to determine precise objectives in the light of broader capacity-building aims, and to involve that assistance provider in the planning of the program from the outset.
Choice of implementation approaches will depend on a number of factors. Potential partners, in considering when and how much they want to commit to any BRIDGE project, might benefit from a gradualist approach to implementation.
In certain circumstances it may be better to take small incremental steps, rather than committing large funds to a large project. Program organisers may prefer to proceed in a non-prescriptive and indeed non-threatening manner – minimising losses (of face and money) – should an ambitious project not eventuate or proceed. If an organisation shows initial interest, but is not in a position to commit to a large project, it could be encouraged to send some key personnel to attend a BRIDGE workshop out-of-country before embarking on its own in-country showcase and/or a Train the Facilitator program, and certainly before developing and/or translating materials.
Familiarisation and expectation management
BRIDGE content and, in particular, BRIDGE methodology are still relatively new to many in the elections community. Methods for advocating and explaining BRIDGE to decision-makers include the following:
The use of short BRIDGE programs that exemplify BRIDGE content, materials and methodology – ‘showcasing’ – exposes decision-makers to relevant aspects of the project and can be a useful tool for giving them a better and more informed understanding of the benefits they can derive from BRIDGE. If the client audience has a clear understanding of what BRIDGE is it will make the job of the implementer a great deal easier. Refer to 3.4 Focus On: Showcasing BRIDGE for more information.
Negotiating with clients
During and after scoping, discussions will need to take place between the BRIDGE representatives and the clients, implementing organisations, and any donors. These should always reinforce and clarify the elements of the project in order to manage the expectations of both the latter.
When negotiating with clients, the following approaches have shown themselves to be useful.
Negotiating with donors
When negotiating with donors, concentration on the following points is likely to be necessary.