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STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT OF NONPROFIT IN COSTA RICA

In the past 46 years, the Costa Rican Demographic Association (Asociación Demografica Costarricense - ADC) has served thousands of Costa Ricans and helped transform Costa Rican society's awareness of reproductive and sexual health issues.  While the organization has been successful, ADC requested the assistance of FAVACA to strengthen their governance infrastructure and understand best practices of recruiting and retaining volunteers.  ADC currently has a team of 100 volunteers and would like to improve the screening and sustainability of these volunteers while at the same time turning them into advocates and fundraisers for the organization.  Carlos Zepeda, President/CEO of Organizational Management Advisors LLC, agreed to provide training to ADC and travel to San José, Costa Rica June 7-10, 2012.  Prior to traveling, Zepeda conducted 13 online training sessions to better understand the challenges facing ADC and get to know the organization.  Once in country, he provided ADC's Executive Director Hilda Picado Granados and her core staff with capacity building sessions to improve volunteer recruitment forms and develop new strategies to better manage and organize volunteers based on their interests and history.  A protocol for background checks was also introduced, so that all client information remains confidential and the most qualified volunteers are selected.  Zepeda also met with ADC's Board of Directors and made recommendations to improve the volunteer management and organization system.  As a result of the training, members of the staff and volunteer team were able to present the Board of Directors with a list of operational and administrative changes to enhance volunteer recruitment and management.  Zepeda made presentations on board responsibilities, clarifying ADC's mission statement and becoming ambassadors for the organization.  He discussed board strengths and weaknesses, ways to promote consistent messaging to the public, the intersection between a personal mission and the organization's mission, ADC's achievements in the last two years and donor recruitment.  Zepeda also taught the board and staff about best practices in program design, fundraising strategies and best practices from non-profits around the world, and ways in which ADC could successfully implement change.  Zepeda discussed "friendraising" by the board and volunteers as a successful way to promote their cause and how this strategy goes hand in hand with fundraising.  Overall Zepeda's training was extremely successful and his recommendations have already been implemented and improved the organizations' professionalism and overall
management. 

FLORIDA BAT MAN TRAINS COSTA RICAN CONSERVATIONISTS

Facing a loss of biodiversity and lack of crucial data on underground fauna, Mr. Gustavo Quesada, president of Anthros Grotto Assoc. in San Jose, Costa Rica, requested training on managing bats in underground caves. First time volunteer Jeffery Allen Gore, leader of the Terrestrial Mammal Research Program of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, provided training on bat biology, handling bats, use of harp traps and mist nets, and methods for conducting census on roosts at Neilly City on March 22-26, 2007. Dr. Gore, a native of Panama City, FL, trained 10 conservationists and contributed to establishing the methodologies and skills necessary for comprehensive studies of bat populations in the caves of southeastern Costa Rica. The skills and tools will allow future studies on other caves around the country and facilitate technical exchanges between cavers and biologists for future generations.

REGIONAL RED CROSS MEETING ENHANCES VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT SKILLS.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies offers technical assistance to National Societies so they can implement efficient, responsive, and focused programs that contribute to reducing vulnerability in the region. The Regional Organization Development Program in its strategic framework to build the capacity of National Societies has a specific objective to reinforce and modernize National Societies volunteer management so that they can, in turn, improve service delivery to and with vulnerable people. The organization is based on volunteering, therefore, good volunteer resource management is an integral part of this capacity building framework. To this end the Regional Organization Development Program organized The Central American Volunteering Conference in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, to bring together volunteers and volunteer program managers to explore lessons learned, best practices and experiences from within and outside the Red Cross Movement. FAVACA provided support through volunteer consultants Maria Cao-Lopez and Erolinda Budi of the Volunteer Services Department at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. The team participated in the conference September 23-27, 2004, and conducted sessions on the volunteer cycle (recruitment, orientation, retention and recognition), measuring the economic impact of volunteers and measuring volunteer program effectiveness. Twenty-five participants representing chapters from Central America, Mexico and the Spanish speaking Caribbean were present. The Red Cross provided significant support for the volunteers in-country expenses.

FLORIDA COLLABORATES WITH US EMBASSY COSTA RICA TO STRENGTHEN LOCAL BANK REGULATORS.

International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) Officer Mark Cullinane with the US Embassy San José requested assistance on behalf of the Costa Rican Office of the Bank Superintendent (SUGEF in Spanish) for technical assistance in money laundering detection at the operational level. FAVACA veteran volunteer and board member Antonio Fernandez, Miami, worked with Cecilia Sancho Calvo, general director of private bank supervision and her staff to strengthen and improve supervision functions under Costa Rican anti-narcotics and banking laws and the international requirements of the USA PATRIOT Act and the Bank Secrecy Act. Fernandez, a retired bank regulator with the Florida Department of Finance, performed a diagnostic review of the functions of the Special Operations Unit, reviewed and analyzed the procedures of the SUGEF’s Inspection Division, helped to determine personnel training needs and identified internship opportunities for SUGEF employees among US banking regulators. Fernandez traveled to Costa Rica April 12-17, 2004, and worked alongside DEA Analyst Tony Hammond to consult with 22 SUGEF employees.

FLORIDA CHILD WELFARE EXPERT SHARES EXPERTISE IN COSTA RICA.

The Asociación de Empresarios para el Desarrollo (AED) is the Costa Rican chapter of the United Way. The focus of the organization’s 5 year strategic plan is to give a generation a boost by focusing on helping children from 5-14 years old who come from families with limited economic resources. One aspect of their work is to support group homes for orphaned or abused children. To this end AED’s Executive Director Ximena Araneda Fornachiari requested expertise in group home management on behalf of a newly formed network of agencies. In response Children’s Home Society of Florida Director of Program Operations Marcel Rivas, Miami, conducted training for 60 professionals from 6 group homes to begin to address common issues within the network and begin to develop strategies for long-term sustainability. Along with his extensive experience with the Children’s Home Society, Mr. Rivas is a peer reviewer for the Council on Accreditation, a nationwide child welfare accreditation agency. He traveled to San Jose October 29 - November 2, 2003.

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