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AIDS Action Europe

A network of HIV-related organisations in Europe & Central Asia, working towards a unified, more effective response to the region's HIV epidemic.

Real life clearinghouse

Courtesy of AIDS Action Europe

Lessons learned

We’ve learned many lessons along the way.  For one, in the context of the financial crisis and economic downturn, it’s critical that NGOs have the skills and knowledge to diversify and mobilise sources of funding, which is why we’ve focused efforts in recent years on resource mobilisation training.  Looking ahead, fundraising among local governments, foundations and corporations will be more and more relevant, particularly in parts of our region that have historically been sceptical that this kind of programming could work within their societal framework. 

Also, the small grants component of ROST proved to be an innovative and appealing way for participating organisations to put into practice the skills they had learned.  What we found during the first year of the program was that grant proposals tended to be ambitious relative to both the amount of funding and time available for implementation.  We learned that we could be more effective if we shifted the focus away from funding “mini projects” towards funding initiatives that would instigate organisational changes to increase financial capacity.  

Martine de Schutter, AIDS Action Europe, on the lessons learned along the way

But to me what is perhaps the most interesting lesson learned overall is that something that at first seems like a very specific initiative can lead to so much more.  It’s noteworthy how a grant for a rather focused activity – be it a needs assessment, or a seminar, or a clearinghouse – does more than just allow an organisation such as ours to execute that given project .  Looking back, it’s clear that while implementing these initiatives, we were gaining recognition in the region and triggering further involvement and influence.  

It’s both gratifying and encouraging to know thatwithin a relatively short amount of time we came together as an organisation, formed a robust network, implemented impactful and meaningful programming, and helped affect HIV policy change across the region.  I don’t think that’s anything we could have fathomed at the outset, and it would not have been possible without sustained support.

Key Facts

Projects: A range of initiatives designed to first build the network, and then to provide tools and resources that enable our members to respond to the most pressing needs within their communities and across the region, and to exchange information, ideas and lessons learned

Run by: AIDS Action Europe

Region: Europe and Central Asia

Population: All people living with HIV and at-risk populations, with a focus on gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM), people who inject drugs and migrants

Challenges: Stigma and discrimination; the economic crisis; lack of access to treatment, care, information and harm-reduction programmes

Activities: Needs assessments; development of an online database on HIV/AIDS good practice materials; seminars; skills training sessions; small grants programmes, advocacy work