Multi-annual plan 2013-2017

2017 was the last year of our multi-annual plan 2013-2017. Looking back briefly, what did we do to carry out our resolutions? Were we successful?

Safety for journalists

If we look at our multi-annual plan 2013-2017, two issues that we formulated as important points for improvement for Free Press Unlimited as an organisation stand out: 1. more attention for the safety and protection of journalists and 2. further employee professionalisation. Did we succeed? For the most part. In recent years we have been able to teach thousands of journalists how to better safeguard their own safety, both digitally and physically. We developed the NetAidKit, which allows journalists to communicate securely online and helped establish various platforms where whistle-blowers can leave their information undetected (see case Publeaks). In our own organisation we also took a critical look at safety issues, such as how we handle sensitive information that may endanger our partners. Our employees received training, we deliberately let ourselves be hacked in order to identify risks and we also implemented a comprehensive in-house safety policy.
We have also been working for years to put an end to impunity when it comes to violence against journalists, at national and international level. But, however outrageous, that appears to be a long-term issue and something that we can only achieve together with others. That is why in 2017, we helped to set up the Civil Society Safety Coalition, in which more than 20 organisations join forces.

Professionalisation

In recent years, we have worked hard on the professionalisation of our organisation. Our professional communications team is complete, and we have a strong knowledge and quality team that helps us to monitor and evaluate our projects well; this was our Achilles heel according to external advisors in 2013. Our methods for mapping the results of our work have been further tested and refined. We do not only look at the quantity, but also at the quality of our projects. What really changes in the life of a journalist or slum dweller because of our work? In short, we count not only how many journalists have followed our safety training, but also interview them extensively about the effect of that training on their daily work. We learn an astonishing amount from those Most Significant Change stories – knowledge that we can also apply in other projects.

We also worked on our resolution to gather together the vast amount of knowledge that ‘loosely’ roams around the organisation – in the minds of people, in numerous reports and evaluations – and make it available to everyone. So that we as an organisation, and consequently our partners, can benefit more from it. In 2017, we started building an evidence base, an accessible and handy overview of ‘proof’ and lessons learned about what works and does not work to achieve our goals.

We are proud that, despite substantial investments in the professionalisation of our organisation, we did not witness our budget drop significantly, as predicted. Instead of the planned € 7 million in 2016, the budget in 2017 was still more than € 15 million. What has not (yet) been successful is the completion of our new multi-annual plan in 2017 – the year was simply too busy. However, we are well on our way and will present the multi-annual plan 2018-2022 by the spring of 2018 at the latest.