Background and Overview
During 2020, the Partnering for Peace (PFP) Board of Directors and members developed a comprehensive Strategic Plan to support the organization’s Mission Statement. The plan included a range of ambitious goals, and by late-2020 many of its elements were being implemented.
The intent for the plan was that it would be dynamic, subject to annual review and updating, particularly with the help of the members. Accordingly, the Board determined that at the outset of 2021 and at a time of leadership change it would be useful to seek further thoughts about PFP directions for 2021 and beyond by asking its members and friends to respond to a short survey.
This report summarizes the survey’s findings. The survey (outlined below) consisted of ten questions -- some quantitative, others open-ended – organized in three parts– one, dealing with performance and overall goals, a second, inventorying members’ individual and local group activities, and a third for open comments.
The survey was distributed to 270 potential respondents -- a mixture of members, former members and other interested parties (“contacts”). The members and former members numbered about 100 and because they were familiar with PFP and its work they were the likely pool of respondents. The vast majority of the contacts (about 170) did not have enough experience or knowledge of PFP to be able to respond substantively and very few did. The survey was distributed to them primarily for promotional purposes.
There were 29 replies, 23 of which were from active or former members and six of which were contacts with close ties to PFP. Most respondents replied to all the questions, while a few replied selectively to only some.
There were many thoughtful, creative suggestions to all of the questions. Considering them as a whole, there are a few highlights:
- Good support for the current PFP mission and work of the board and members.
- Wide variety of ideas for improved publicity, promotion and communication, especially with local Rotary clubs and traditional and social media.
- Many suggestions about how to recruit RPCVs to Rotary.
- Encouragement for PFP to expand efforts beyond work with local Rotary clubs to auxiliaries (e.g., Rotoract and RAGs) and engagement with national programs such as Global Grants, Peace Fellowships and World Peace initiatives.
- Suggestions for how PFP members can maintain ties to or reconnect with host country community leaders and the Rotary clubs and PC staffs in their Countries' of Service.
Part A: Performance and Goals
There were five questions in Part I, divided into two sections, questions 1-2 and 3-5.
The first two questions were straightforward requests for feedback about the respondents’ impressions of the work of the PFP Board and members to date. The organization was evaluated on a scale of 1 (Poorly) to 5 (Very Well), and the results were gratifying.
Q 1. Overall, how well do you think Partnering for Peace is doing?
50 percent responded that PFP was doing very well or well. Nearly 50 percent thought PFP was doing a good job.
Q 2. How well do you feel the Board is keeping you informed (via website, newsletter, other)?
Over 40 percent thought that the board was doing very well communicating with the members, nearly 33 percent said it was doing well in this regard, and about 25 percent responded that they were doing a good job.
The questions sought respondents’ opinions about changes in PFP operations, new objectives and individual member activities.
There were 27, 26 and 25 replies respectively to the three questions. The responses ranged from 1-2 words to short phrases or sentences to longer paragraphs. Most were clear, direct replies to the questions; some were more indirect.
To make it easier for the board and members to interpret the responses, a three-person board team was asked to review and summarize the replies to each question. In the many cases of overlap and repetition the replies were consolidated, and wherever possible the language was tightened up.
Nonetheless, no responses were ignored or left out -- every individual response is reflected somewhere in the summaries. Each summary also gathered the responses into logical categories, though due to the differences among the questions the presentation framework is different for each. As well, the responses are presented without weighting; the team has not ranked ordered them nor made any judgments about their relative merits. Decisions about feasibility, priorities and adoption will be up to the board.
Q 3: What specific activities or changes to the operations would you recommend that the board add or make?
Current Operations (Board and Membership)
- Generally good, appropriate set of activities
- Keep developing interesting programs and bringing in good speakers
- Streamline Zoom board meetings
- Maintain active recruiting for board and committees
- Provide advice about how to assist PCVs awaiting redeployment
- Add in-person participatory events
- Work more with Rotary auxiliaries, e.g., Rotoract, Peace Fellows
- Ask RPCV groups for suggestions about how Rotary clubs in region can assist
- Consider endorsing specific projects for publicity and fundraising
- Encourage RPCV-Rotarian cooperation in continuing assistance to communities served
- Participate in PC-Rotary discussions about future role of PCVs in promoting peace
- Develop short-term PC-Rotary response teams to assist with PC projects
- Work with other country “peace corps” and NGOs (from RI perspective the alliance could be scaled to other groups than just USPC)
- Regular, every-other-month newsletter schedule
- Tighter messaging about goals
- More publicizing about projects and successes
- Provide more details about and develop models for successful projects
- Wider use of social media
- Promote NPCA membership
- Encourage NPCA publicity about the partnership
- Continue informing Rotarians and RPCVs about the agreement
Q 4: In thinking about its goals and objectives, what current or new objectives do you think PFP should emphasize or develop during the 2021 calendar year?
Suggestions for New Objectives:
- Develop a cadre of Peace Corps and Rotary leaders to work on integrating RPCVs into Rotary Global Grants
- Work to illustrate common ground among cultures to promote peace.
- Help Rotary Clubs to get in touch with RPCVs in their area to encourage membership
- Help Rotary Clubs in proximity of returning PCV sites to be aware of them and encourage them to invite them to a meeting
- Make Rotary RPCVs aware of Rotary Peace Fellowships
- Encourage Rotary International to appoint an RPCV to the Rotary Peace Fellowship program
- Long term, explore linking PFP with other countries who have volunteer programs similar to Peace Corps to help them build connections with their Rotary Clubs in a similar way as PFP
- Identify and graphically communicate meaningful metrics (active projects, presentations, geographic heat map showing activity progress charts, etc.
- Save the planet from nuclear holocaust
Objectives in which, in some form, P4P is presently engaged:
- Get Rotoract clubs on the radar of recently returned RPCVs
- Enhance awareness of successful projects with RPCVs and Rotary clubs
- Membership growth as a high priority
- Help RPCV'S to be aware of Rotary Clubs close to their homes
- Increase relationships and awareness of PFP with local Rotary Clubs
- Increase Rotary support of RPCVs in mentoring and providing scholarships
- Encourage RPCVs to connect with local Rotary Clubs to support projects in their country of service (COS)
Q 5: What do you think are the top three things individual PFP members can do to help sustain the partnership’s success and sustainability?
Work with Rotary Clubs and Districts
- Speak at Rotary clubs and district events about the partnership; sponsor speakers’ program
- Invite RPCVs to club meetings; also to speak
- Explain ways P4P can help serve joint Rotary and PCV goals
- Recruit RPCVs to Rotary and Rotaract and help get them involved in Rotary projects
- Demonstrate to local clubs how the RPCV community could swell membership, possibly through e-clubs of RPCV Rotarians devoted to specific areas of concern
- Actively seek RPCV Rotarians in clubs, talk to them about the partnership and recruit them to P4P
- Bring grant opportunities to the attention of clubs
- Use a press kit with clubs
- Ask the District Governor to establish a PC/Rotary alliance committee
- Help PCVs in field affiliate with local clubs and develop satellites
- Foster links between PC and Rotary projects in field
- Sponsor RPCV scholarships in the Peace Fellowship program
Work with Peace Corps, PC-Related Organizations, PCVs and RPCVs
- Meet with and speak at RPCV associations
- Ask RPCV groups and someone from PFP to give short programs and put information into their newsletters
- Engage local PC recruiting process -- establish working relationships with recruiters, attend recruiting events
- Identify PCVs from one’s community; let them know about Rotary before deployment; arrange visits to clubs to lay groundwork before departure; then work with them in the field on joint projects
- Solicit more PC and PFP joint memberships
- Involve RPCVs in Rotary Action Groups (RAGs), Global Grants and World Peace initiatives
- Work on supporting more joint projects once PC is active again
- Help in return-to-field efforts (data base of stranded PCVs)
- Establish yourself as the P4P “go to” person with local NPCA chapters and identify which PC countries of service are part of their membership population
- Donate to NPCA (donor advised) with funds earmarked for partnership projects
General Promotion and Publicity
- Submit editorials on relevant subjects to local, regional and national media.
- Spread the word to other PCVs and Rotarians
- Reach out to local public media and podcasts
- Keep talking about P4P with friends
Work with PFP
- Pay attention to what PFP is doing and try to help.
- Advise PFP on local and district PC/Rotary activities
- Volunteer for committees
- Help PFP find ties to new administration’s peace priorities
Activities in Countries of Service
- Keep in touch with former host country community leaders
- Reach out to the current PC directors in one’s former host country
- Regardless of where living now, remain a Rotary member in one’s COS
- Promote Rotary/Rotaract membership for PCVs in one’s COS
- Foster links between COS and stateside clubs
- Help RPCVs who want to continue serving their host country communities see value in Rotary partnerships – how Rotary has money and is flexible enough to fund nearly any type of service project
PFP Board Members
- All members participate in at least one committee.
- Make more presentations at RI functions
- Update action items at each board meeting.
General Policies and Longer-Term Goals
- Need to stress idea that Rotary membership is an extension of PC service
- Current partnership activities are acceptable, but not enough
- Foster a cadre of partnership-aware PC and Rotary leaders
- Take a long-range view of how PCs can be more proactive in conflict resolution
- Work on a 3-year plan to develop at least 20 global grants with PC alumni in key roles
- Recognize goodwill of other countries, even opponents of the U.S.
Conclusion (Part A)
The responses to questions 1-2 were highly supportive of the overall mission and activities of PFP and the work of the Board. Those endorsements were reiterated in Part C, Additional Comments (see below).
Altogether the responses to questions 3-5 provide a good deal of information about PFP members’ and friends’ views about the current and future directions for the organization. They suggest many exciting options for PFP, but they also present the board with some difficult choices.
In considering the responses as a whole, the team found that there were a few overarching assumptions, implied views and even questions for the board that seemed to underlie or go beyond the explicit responses. Those points might be summarized as follows:
- Responding members and knowledgeable friends seem closely engaged with the PFP mission and strategic plan, and they welcomed this opportunity to advise the board about how to strengthen and expand the agenda.
- Respondents understand that, in light of COVID-related realities, for the foreseeable future PFP will have to pursue its agenda on dual tracks — in ways that creatively work within the restrictions of the pandemic, while also looking ahead to former and newer efforts in a post-COVID world.
- The exact loci of responsibility for many of the recommendations for expanded activity is often unclear. Albeit often very worthy, such ideas seem to be suggesting either (a) new work to be undertaken by the partners (RI and Peace Corps), for which there might not be adequate internal support, or (b) a wider operational role for PFP itself, which its original mission, plan and resources as principally an advisory body do not contemplate.
- From the Rotary perspective, the alliance with Peace Corps could become a template for similar agreements with other national service agencies and NGOs. However, that prospect raises a question about whether supporting such an expanded mission would be wise for PFP, i.e., could it threaten the core P4P focus on the RI-PC partnership?
Part B: Activity Inventory
Part B consisted of five questions that asked members to report about their own individual and local group activities on behalf of PFP. The responses indicated a high degree of work going on among the membership
Q 1: Presentations and Other Outreach -- During the past year, have you made presentations explaining the partnership or other outreach activities to relevant groups (other Rotary clubs, Rotaractors, Interactors, NPCA National Affiliate Groups or Social Media groups, etc.)?
Fifty percent of the respondents reported having made such presentations or otherwise having engaged in outreach activities on behalf of P4P.
Of those having not undertaken such activities, 52 percent said they would be willing to do so, 33 percent said they might be willing to do so (with support), and only 14 percent said they would not.
Q 2: Country Staff Contacts -- Do you have personal contacts with Peace Corps staff in other countries?
Nearly two-thirds of the respondents (65 percent) reported that they have such contacts with Peace Corps staff in their countries of service
Q 3: Recruiter Contact -- Have you or someone else in your Rotary club established/maintained a working dialogue with your area’s Peace Corps Recruiter in order to make presentations to Rotarians?
Over half (53 percent) of the respondents reported having contact with Peace Corps recruiters in the communities or regions in which they live.
Q 4: Other Activities -- Are there any other joint Peace Corps and Rotary activities that you have undertaken and that you would recommend to others?
Two-thirds of the respondents reported a wide range of activities undertaken by themselves personally or by their Rotary clubs and districts. Prominent among these were specific outreach and publicity efforts about the partnership, both domestically and in their countries of service. Some noted how they have used the partnership to assist Rotary recruitment among RPCVs and also how their efforts to assist during the COVID evacuation process helped with such links.
Q 5: Stories -- Have you written up any stories or accounts of any local PC/RPCV/Rotary synergies that we could share in our newsletter? If “Yes,” would you be willing to have our newsletter editor contact you?
Twelve (12) respondents reported having written up stories and all but one were willing to be contacted.
Six (6) respondents reported not having written up stories, 3 were clearly open to being contacted and it appears that the other 3 also may be open to contact.*
- Because the question was worded “Have you written…”, it is possible that those that responded “no” have stories to share that simply have not been written yet.
- Also, because of the “Have you written…” wording and the follow-up wording “If Yes…”, it is possible that some who responded “no” to the first question did not respond to the second question, and may in fact have a story and be open to sharing it.
PART C: COMMENTS & ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (plus suggestions)
About half of the respondents offered additional comments and suggestions. The bulk of those were highly supportive of the general directions of PFP, endorsing the Board’s work and encouraging it and the membership to continue largely along the organization’s current paths.
For additional insight into respondents’ overall assessments and suggestions, see the Conclusion to Part A above.