Social Reporting is not new to SDC. In order to render their face-to-face events more participatory, immediate, relevant and accessible several thematic networks made use of the methodology. Yet, implementation practices differ, some networks delegate the realization to external partners, others have mixed teams with reporting professionals and thematic experts. At the face to face of SDC’s Gender Equality Network the whole reporting process has been delegated exclusively to internal resource persons. In this blog post members of the social reporting and the network’s core group present their lessons learnt.
By Carmen Eckert, Miriam Ganzfried, Nadia Lanfranchi and Nadia von Holzen
During the last three years several face to face events of SDC’s thematic networks have been platforms to establish and enhance social reporting as an integral part of the events (Social Reporting – SDC Lessons to Be Learned, Social Reporting – Experience from the DLGN F2F, Social Reporting on Training “The Learning SDC Mongolia Country Programme”). Until now the social reporting expertise and leadership has been mostly outsourced to external partners.
At the Gender face to face by contrast the whole process – from organization and coordination through to realization – has been delegated to in-house resource persons. While a core team with a designated coordinator has been provided by the Knowledge & Learning Processes Division (most of them gender network members) quite a few colleagues from the field spontaneously volunteered as social reporters. After an invitation by the facilitator about one quarter of all participants joined the reporting team. The evening before the f2f those 13 reporters met the coordinator for an introduction workshop. During the week they could consult a manual for technical and methodological support and the coordinator was also at their disposal.
This internal setting emphasized the social component of the reporting. The somewhat artificial barrier between technical and thematic experts could be broken down: all the members of the social reporter team produced contributions by themselves, technical problems were often resolved by mutual assistance. Thus, the ideal conception of social reporting as a polyphonic narration, i.e. the democratic inclusion of different voices and views into one single channel that sums them up to an integral whole, has been further approached.
However, there were also critical voices with respect to the inclusion of social reporting activities into the f2f programme. As one reporting participant states:
Le social reporting demande du temps. Je trouve que si l’on veut le faire correctement, il faut en effet laisser un peu plus de place à cet outil dans le programme; c’est aussi un outil d’apprentissage car il requiert de la part des participants qui sont interviewés de partager leur impressions, leur idées, et à celui qui s’occupe du social reporting de porter un autre regard, de prendre de la distance. Je laisserai donc plus de place pour les interviews et la rédaction des articles.
The same network member also felt overstrained by the technical challenges of the social reporting:
Il faut un soutien pour les aspects logistiques (montage vidéo, mise en ligne etc.). Ce sont des tâches trop éloignées du contenu – ce qui intéresse les participants et donc des social reporters occasionnels.
Again other participants got along with the technical support provided by the social reporting core team. Another issue raised by the participants concerned the privacy protection:
I think this event is concerning SDC, so no need to make it public. Since I noticed it’s public I have sent a request to change my name for privacy issues as I don’t want to be googled and youtubed.
At large, the members of the social reporting group appreciated the activities even though they implied additional expenditure of time in an already dense programme. Participants highlighted the new experiences and skills acquired through the reporting, the good team work as well as the insights provided by changing perspective and assuming a more observant role.
I had no previous experience in social reporting, so this experience was an added value, the small training were very useful, I learned to keep an eye on everything, not only on the speakers, but also on the reaction of participants.
Le social reporting m’a permis de prendre de la distance, de porter un autre regard sur les présentations, les débats.
In an after action review the social reporting core team tried to draw conclusions. These are our lessons learnt:
- The face to face blog is not only considered another way of reporting but a resource for further work and information, too. Time should be invested to reorganize the blog during/after the event in order to facilitate the access and to enable visitors (gender network members) to use the information for their activities in the future.
- Organizing the social reporting exclusively with internal participants implicates good coordination, information, a clear concept and allocation of tasks. A social reporting contact person (best would be a person from SDC headquarter) should be designated.
- Social reporting should be earlier and better integrated into the planning of the event. Time slots should be reserved to social reporting activities in order to constitute an official part of the face to face programme.
- The social factor appeared relevant, too. The Gender face to face 2012 in Worben Bad has been the forth gathering of the network. A certain level of confidence among the participants has already been established. This has been crucial to the good functioning of social reporting as it builds on mutual trust rather than being a team building exercise.
- Broadband connection is not a sufficient but clearly a necessary condition for a successful social reporting.
- Need of privacy protection should be discussed.
How did you experience social reporting at network events?
Social Reporting Gender Equality Network
Social Reporting Climate Change and Environment Network
Social Reporting Agriculture and Food Security Network
Social Reporting Conflicts and Human Rights Network
Social Reporting Democratisation, Decentralisation and Local Governance Network