Knowledge Management (KM) is widely accepted as “a systematic approach to generating and recording knowledge and making it available to others when they need it in formats that are useful and relevant.”
Caritas Europa (CE) has adopted a simplified working version of this that implores organisations “to ensure the right people have access to the right knowledge at the right time and in the right format.”
Knowledge management touches on our daily work; it influences professional interaction between and across individuals, teams, relations within our organisations and between organisations, within the Caritas network and with other stakeholders and actors.
KM in Caritas Europa
Organisational Imperative and Context
In accordance with CE’s Strategic Framework (2016-2020), the network seeks to adopt and implement a systematic way of sharing experiences and key information for continuous improvement, mutual learning and joint actions (Strategic Goal III.2, Outcome 4 of the CE Strategic Framework 2020).
Undertake analysis of formal reflections (e.g. evaluations, audits, reviews, feedback and complaints) for learning purposes and share this with relevant stakeholders (CIMS 2.8.1);
Share knowledge and experience through participation in sectoral and thematic networks with a view to improve practice and better influence positive social change (CIMS 2.8.2 );
Engage with civil society organisations and other stakeholders to avoid duplication, leverage resources, develop and implement joint policy development and advocacy efforts, and to maximise impact (CIMS 4.5.1)
At its heart, KM is an organisational development issue, as it helps to improve efficiencies in the way we work. It is part of all functions and is important to the overall ‘health’ of an organisation. Within the CE Secretariat, organisational development falls under the remit of the Institutional Development (ID) Unit. At present, the Institutional Development Officer (Miriam Pikaar) is responsible for driving this agenda.
Given the requirement to foster KM in accordance with CE’s 2016-2020 Strategic Framework, a Knowledge Management Task Force (KMTF) was established to help deliver outputs linked to Goal 3.2, Outcome 4. The KMTF members are Barbara Reiterer (Caritas Austria), Gayane Norikyan (Caritas Armenia), Alinda Bosch (Cordaid) and Bradley Clark (Caritas Ireland – Trócaire). The KMTF is coordinated by the CE Secretariat and reports to the Organisational Development Action Group (ODAG). It is accountable to the Institutional Development Steering Group (IDStG).
Existing tools and current practices
Existing Tools and Current Practices
When referring to tools on this portal, we mean offline physical tools and web-based software that can be used with a variety of methods. By practices, we mean group processes that people can use to interact with each other, online or offline.
Apart from the CE website, there are two network-wide KM tools already available for people in the Caritas Europa network.
The CI platform Baobab (extranet), where staff members of Caritas organisations can join or create closed spaces for working groups, which supports the storage or documents and tools; and,
The Caritas Mapping Tool, which is a searchable database containing information about CE organisations (e.g.: nature of work, key contacts, location of operations, funders, etc).
Network-wide practices include:
Annual workshops which bring staff dealing with specific topics from different member organisations together to exchange and co-create knowledge at a network level.
Participation in network-wide structures which support progress towards achieving the goals and outcomes of our shared Strategic Framework.
Learning Paths, which allow participants to improve their skills and expertise via several workshops over a 20-month period rather than through a series of one-off, ad hoc trainings.
The biannual Caritas Europa Academies, which support the work of the Learning Paths.
Network-wide communications, which support the sharing of knowledge and information.
In order to continuously improve the service to the people in need, Caritas Europa aims to increase the impact of its common action by investing in strong members, while fostering an attitude of sharing and working together on common challenges and actions. CE promotes mutual solidarity in the institutional development and capacity strengthening of the network and its members toward more autonomy, professionalism, transparency and accountability. Facilitating exchanges between people and sharing knowledge is an important way of supporting and accompanying member organisations.
Purpose and Overview Caritas Europa’s Knowledge Management Portal
This KM portal offers practical tools, suggestions, quick-wins, supporting information and external resources to help any organisation identify its needs, strengths challenges and potential associated with KM. It is a companion resource to the Caritas Europa KM Assessment Tool. It is structured around the four pillars of the KM Assessment tool:
Caritas Europa’s KM Task Force (outlined above) developed this KM Assessment Tool to help organisations conduct a diagnostic exercise and develop a plan for improvement. To this end, each pillar is assessed against a series of indicators and this portal mirrors the same structure. As you drill down into the indicators associated with each pillar above, you will find case studies, practices and tools used in other Caritas organisations as well as links to external resources which we hope will help you and your organisation integrate and improve new and existing practices associated with KM.