Net-Works - Last peer to peer session!

Net-Works - Last peer to peer session!

Project - 02-12-2022

On November, 7th the project partners met online for the 5th and last peer to peer working session.

On November 7th, the project partners from the Net-Works project met online for their fifth and last peer to peer session. The objective of those peer-to-peer sessions is to build up and capacitate the partners, local, national and European networks of work-based adult education providers, to exchange between developed and less developed networks with a focus on building and consolidating networks. After sessions dedicated to the core drivers of a network; advocacy and communication; the perks of adhering to a network and representation and leadership, the partners exchanged this time on financial sustainability. This session was based on the report prepared by ISEN, the Irish partner of the project on social economy networks financial sustainability that will be published in the next weeks.

As always, the peer to peer session was prepared by ISEN and AFF and expertly led by ISEN !

After a short presentation of the report on financial sustainability, which showcased the variety of structures for networks in Europe, the participants started to discuss the question of governance. Indeed, the question of the way a network or any organisation is structured influences the way it can become financially sustainable, it also determines who is responsible for what. The first observation is that there is a large variety of possible structures (association, foundation, NGO, …) that all have their specificities and can be different from one country to another as there is no unified framework at the EU level. The second observation is that one of the thing that determinates the way any network works is the fact that it is formal or informal. This will have implication on the way it is managed but also on its financial needs. The legal basis of the network will also influence the roles and responsibilities among the governing parties. 

Once the presentation and discussion on governance finished, the participants were separated into small groups, by partner, and had to discuss the preparation of a development plan if they were to start their own network today : which activities would they propose, in which order, and what budget they would need and where would they find the financial resources. It was a very interesting reflexion to have and helped put into perspective what is possible to do, what we need to do,… Indeed, not everything can be done in the first year, some things should be done a bit later, creating a functioning network takes time.

Among the various activity proposed were : create an annual conference, propose capacity building activities, develop exchanges and trainings between countries, organise webinars, propose exchanges between countries, develop an advocacy and lobbying activities,…The partners proposed various sources of income such as membership fees, EU grants, local grants, … Overall the plan proposed seemed to be quite realistic and gave an overview of what is possible and what is not concerning networks.

The conclusion from the meeting is that there is a vast difference between networks in Europe, however, there is no perfect structure nor any perfect network organisation, it depends on the country, the legal opportunities, and the local necessities. However, aiming for financial sustainability is a key. It is crucial to focus on actions that the network intends to carry out and can afford to do, and to ascertain income in order to be able to carry out those actions, whether through membership of projects fundings.