A look back at 2020…

In the year when COVID-19 mostly halted fieldwork, the needs of our partner communities didn’t stop. PSYDEH’s work as an impact-making actor in the community-led development area didn’t stop either. 

PSYDEH took any opportunity that these circumstances gave to us and worked in every way possible to achieve our goals and continue our growth. As we kick off 2021 we take a moment to look back at some of the highlights from a very tough year. 

Exploring COVID-19 support and rural communities 

community-led development-women-leaders-electoral processesInformation, and access to it, are vital in the fight against COVID-19. This is where PSYDEH got involved. We translate and supply science-backed advice with a focus on vulnerable rural and indigenous communities. This takes the form of online published articles and feedback-focused communications with field partners. 

Our COVID-19 support includes providing an information series for indigenous women and their organizations in Hidalgo, Mexico, and those like them across the Republic. But it doesn’t stop there, this information can also be utilized by rural communities in developed and developing communities worldwide.

We are keen to highlight that we are not experts in infectious diseases. This information comes from trusted government and scientific sources, and then we apply our understanding of rural and marginalized-community development to create an accessible, useful resource. 

After months of limited communication with the region, our fieldwork team was finally able to get back out in October. They went as part of our 2020 project with the state agency monitoring electoral processes to ensure that local elections in Hidalgo were fair and safe in the context of the pandemic. They also went with key questions on what work is needed during and post the pandemic. Women’s feedback is then turned into a strategy and program with different objectives and mechanisms.

Building new opportunities and sources of support 

Continuing our strong years-long partnership with GlobalGiving, PSYDEH was selected as one of 12 nonprofits worldwide to participate in their 2020 project of the month club. We were also selected for an emergency grant from their Coronavirus Relief Fund. These investments made it possible our navigating an almost 100% cut of all Mexican government funding and to plan a six-mechanism program to help vulnerable women partners and their communities to manage and recover from COVID-19 in 2021.

We are also helping GlobalGiving to reorient to be more community-led development and equitable access focused, e.g., with their Neutrality Paradox initiative and 2021 Annual Girl Fund, which, previously we had never been able to access. This Fund will now be more accessible to smaller organizations in the global south like PSYDEH.

Elsewhere, digitally we benefited from a $10,000/month GoogleAd Grant. We use this monthly in-kind donation to maximize our online presence. It enables us to invest in adverts that promote PSYDEH: our organization, our initiatives, and opportunities with us, to target audiences around the world. Furthermore, thanks to our new social media content creators, our traffic on Instagram has increased with an average of 80 new followers and an increase in interactions by 83.3 percent. 

We also work with India-based volunteer platform Chezuba and were chosen as the only nonprofit in the Americas for the Tata Volunteering Program. This connects PSYDEH to highly-qualified, international professionals. COVID-19 led to some individuals finding extra time on their hands or being inspired to upskill and here PSYDEH found a benefit amidst the chaos that struck our lives. We collaborated with professionals and gained key digital, SEO insights which now leads us to a 2021 opportunity with the Tata group. 

Publishing Women’s Narrativas and articles online and press

community-led development-Katie Freund and storytelling‘Narrativas’ is a storytelling project that answers the call of our indigenous women partners who feel as though their stories and narrative traditions are a crucial part of their heritage and their daily lives. Our research and work tell us that they also feel that stories are often misrepresented and misunderstood by Mexicans as well as foreigners. So our team was keen to document, develop and publish material authentic to their experiences. The initiative is an autonomy building, gender equality-building, leader development, and marketing tool, unlike anything attempted in Hidalgo, Mexico, and maybe countrywide.

After years of work by countless paid and volunteer collaborators, our publication ‘Narrativas was released online in May 2020. This book was funded by our global crowdfunding ‘Fruits of Change’ campaign. Initially a Spanish-language publication, it includes 68 “narrative-oriented” photographs and 31 stories of indigenous women leaders and their network of organizations, most told in their own words.

This initiative is proof that there is no singular experience that sums up life in the rural communities in Hidalgo. Later in the year, we created an English translation of the publication, so that the stories of indigenous women in Hidalgo can reach as wide an audience as possible. We’re proud that this publication provides narrative evidence to develop the understanding of the different realities that exist in indigenous communities in Mexico, and we look forward to how it can inform us and the wider global audience in the future.

2020 was also a banner year in publishing pieces in Mexican and global blogs and news sites. For example, PSYDEH was in the Hidalgo state press, as well as the Mexican national press for English speakers. Staff published pieces on our novel model for empowering ground-up, community-led development and how storytelling is key to actionable feedback, and how fundraising platforms can invest in the global south to help avoid neutrality paradoxes.

Launching corporate partners and cause marketing initiatives 

This year, more than any other, NGOs have a limited budget for everything. This means PSYDEH has had to look at more concrete and consistent opportunities for resources, including funding. 

Corporate partnerships are a key source of support for PSYDEH and local partners. Whether it’s (a) philanthropic giving of funds like our new relationship with the global Duff & Phelps company or human resource support via partnerships with the global law firm Hogan Lovells and the digital communications firm Dentsu Aegis Network, (b) teaming up to produce socially conscious projects in Mexico like our initiative with the USA company PopSockets, or (c) cause marketing, we are now well-positioned to create win-win initiatives with Mexican and global companies.

Cause marketing partnerships are important to help nonprofits maintain a regular source of support; they are one of seven streams in our resource sustainability strategy celebrated in this article. Partnering with a small business or corporation can be a huge asset; benefits include securing needed resources, strengthening our own brand, and scaling the impact possible through corporate donations.

At the end of 2020, PSYDEH built the foundations of cause-marketing partnerships with our first partners–German and USA companies–and created our cause marketing brochure to promote this initiative to new partners.  

Growing our team 

community-led development_Diogo Heber and storytelling

We launched our Global Collaborators Program and created a Global Collaborators brochure, which has increased the size of both our satellite and field teams. For example, welcoming international and national volunteers and staff, PSYDEH’s multi-national Digital Communications team aims to strengthen global engagement and promote PSYDEH to a wider audience. 

This team’s success directly feeds our growing field team. Indeed, 2020 wins in resource raising and digital communications are now converted into our most ambitious field program in PSYDEH’s history. Here, we hire a nine-member, majority-indigenous women field corps who operates out of our new field satellite office when giving women partners and their organizations and communities the leadership, psychological and project-development support they need to solve their own problems. For example, this Corps will help PSYDEH stand up our social enterprise initiative Bordamos Juntos (embroider together) in quarters 1-2, 2021.

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