Giving Compass' Take:

• Itanisa Mbise shares lessons from C-Sema about successfully bridging cultural divides by meeting communities where they are incorporating their voices throughout the process. 

• How can funders tweak their practices to better incorporate these lessons? 

• Learn about the damage that can be caused by philanthropic efforts conducted without community input

Over the years, we’ve grown from wanting to educate communities and children on children’s rights to encouraging conversations in communities on all issues affecting children. This way, children’s voices are heard, but so are the voices of everyone else who looks out for their interests; from parents and caretakers in the home to government and child service providers. Here are three things we’ve learned when communicating.

1. Dialogue Matters. There are numerous studies on ‘the right way’ to raise children, countless ‘do’s and don’ts’ and ‘tips for parenting’. We’ve found however that telling parents how to raise children based on scientific research can only do so much and some forms of child abuse like corporal punishment, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), child marriage and inequalities between boys and girls are deeply rooted in decades of practice and culture. We work to create enabling environments for communities, religious and tribal leaders to engage in dialogue.

2. Speak their language. Literally.

3. Feedback on Failures is Key. It is important to give people feedback on how you have failed (or not yet succeeded) and how the process carries lessons. This gives you a human face, builds trust in those you serve and, guess what? It is an opportunity to collect feedback on what you can do to address challenges and avoid similar roadblocks in the future. A true feedback loop.

Read the full article about cross-cultural communication by Itanisa Mbise at FeedbackLabs.