By MACOSS, Forus member in Mauritius 

The Mauritius Council of Social Service (MACOSS) in partnership with Forus has embarked on “Capacity Development Action project co-funded bythe European Union (EU) and the French Development Agency (AFD).   

Communication is very important to build key contacts in an organization’s networking activities and for its promotion. The Forus “partnership with its National Members for Implementation of Capacity Development actions” project has enabled MACOSS to revisit its communication strategies to better achieve its core organizational objectives. 

The setting up of a Resource Centre which was part of the project has been made fully operational at the MACOSS Regional Leadership Centre (RLC). The first activity of this partnership was held on 31 July 2020 at the RLC where key speakers on “Communication” were invited to expose their views on strategic communication. Stakeholders and Member Organisations present were provided with detailed information on the process of “Capacity Development - Communication and strengthening Member Organisations (MOs) engagement projects. 

On 18 September 2020, a workshop on “Developing a Communication Strategy” was organized at the MACOSS RLC with the objectives to develop an appropriate communication strategy that will enable MACOSS to communicate effectively to its membership and stakeholdersThe key elements of the communication strategy as well as how press/PR, web strategies and marketing plans fit into MACOSS overall communication strategy were discussed and formalized.   

Twenty representatives from the NGOs working in various fields such as environment, health & wellness, elderly care, education, disability, gender, poverty and sustainable development as well as operating at different levels such as community based, city wide, national and international levels attended this workshop. The members of the Executive Committee, Honorary Officers and Staff of MACOSS also participated in this workshop.

The workshop was facilitated by Mr Seethiah Dhuvandranand, Lecturer of Strategic Management and Entrepreneurship at the University of Mauritius. He shared his experience and knowledge on communication strategies. The content of the programme included exercises about the analysis of the current situation in terms of what has been successful and what has not worked well for MACOSS over the last three years and also an environmental analysis of both the internal and external factors that could affect MACOSS’ work. Members of MACOSS also benefited from this workshop as the knowledge acquired through the interactions can allow them to enhance the communication strategies in their respective organisations. 

As a follow-up to the 1st Communication strategy workshop, a 2nd workshop was held on 19 October 2020. As a communication strategy should closely reflect and should be consistent with the overall organizational planthe vision, mission, objectives and the values of MACOSS were analyzed in detail. The main aim was to develop a communication plan with effective communication tools to help in achieving the overall organizational objectives, to engage effectively with key stakeholders, to demonstrate the success of our work, and to ensure that people understand what is the role of MACOSS in the 3rd sector. Finally, a social media workshop was organized for member organizations on February 2nd 2021 as well as a 2-day workshop to draft and finalize a Communication strategic plan for MACOSS on 4 and 5 February. 

The collaboration with Forus has also allowed MACOSS to reengineer a communication ecosystem with all relevant digital media such as Facebook pagean Instagram page and a YouTube channel along with an official website. These digital media will be used to showcase good practice of its member organisations and partners. Due to financial constraints, member organisations are unable to share their work with key stakeholders and the public. Thus, the government and other donors are unable to take stock of the good practice and the challenges encountered by the NGOs. Due to lack of informationstakeholders have a negative view of NGOs. The work of NGOs should be made visible and known. Thus, the popularization endeavors of both MACOSS and Civil Society through these media tools will change the narrative and the public’s perceptions of the civil society sector. It will fill the gap between community-based organizations, MACOSS and the policy makers.   

Communication Officers have also been recruited to ensure a better two-way communication between MACOSS and its stakeholders including the government who needs MACOSS to develop position papers at times of policy changes and policy development. Through this project and its related activities, MACOSS will efficiently and effectively enhance its actions of networking and facilitation, advocacy and policy development, and empowerment.