In Dance4Life we are daily working towards our long term goal for 2030: “Together with our partners empower more than 5 million young people to lead healthy sexual lives and feel confident about their future; leading to demonstrable improvements in sexual health outcomes.”
2017 was the first year of our 4 year transition to our new strategy, as we move from a grant maker towards our partners to working as a high quality social franchise which will reach and empower more young people. In 2017 we built the foundations of our transformation.
We developed our youth empowerment model and our new curriculum The Journey4Life and set up the structure of the Trainers4Life
We started pilots in Nepal, Russia, Ghana, Tanzania and Kenya to test and learn about how the model, the Journey4Life and our Social Franchise approach work
We created our Franchise offer to our partners, including the start-up package and operational tools.
We fine-tuned our identity in line with our new strategy including a new visual identity.
We implemented our new Schools4Life programme in the Netherlands.
Along with these new elements we also delivered our ‘business as usual’ including our fundraising efforts and our alliances work within two Ministry of Foreign Affairs programmes.
One in four people on our earth are between 10 to 24 years old. We need to invest in this group, certainly in young girls, and garner the active participation of young people.
Young women need access to contraceptives and sexuality education, to be able to choose with whom, and when to have children. But in many countries they do not have that. In developing countries 21 million girls get pregnant between the age of 15-19 years old and 214 million women do not have access to contraceptives they need.
Boys also have to overcome many barriers in accessing information and youth friendly sexual and reproductive care. In Africa, AIDS is the leading cause of death among young people, with girls and young women being hit the hardest. Every 2 seconds a minor girl is married. And in many countries teenage pregnancy means the end of school, with less education, career and a greater chance of poverty as a result.
Imagine a world where young adults make informed decisions about healthy and safe sex. Imagine them establishing equal relationships, and only getting pregnant when they are ready to become parents. Imagine the social and economic progress young people could make if they could achieve their full potential. We want to be part of making those imaginings real. That’s why we invest in empowering youth. We believe that real change always starts from within. It starts when individuals discover their inner power. Their own potential. That is the real game changer.
We see self-confidence as the most crucial driver for change to make our vision a reality. Because confident young people are able to articulate what they need to others. To their peers, parents, teachers and mentors: their circle of influence. Unlock this and young people everywhere become role models. Shining examples inspiring others to follow.
Our innovative approach to comprehensive sexuality education empowers young boys and girls to take personal leadership over their sexual lives. We harness youth culture such as music and dance to create awareness and offer young people skills to build self-esteem and autonomy. To make them courageous.
Dance4Life’s ultimate goal is to decrease the prevalence of three of the biggest sexual health threats young people face today: HIV, unplanned pregnancies and sexual and gender based violence.
In 2017 we and our partners reached 87.813 young people
In total 41.284 of the young people became active as Agents4Change. As on average each Agent4Change shares what they have learned with 5 other people, we indirectly reached around 206.420 individuals in 2017.
Next to that 2.501 participated in our pilot of the Journey4Life and 4.740 were reached by our Schools4Life programme in The Netherlands.
Since 2004 more then 2.1 million young people have participated in the Dance4Life programme, and 886.464 became Agents4Change, leading to an indirect reach of 4.432.320 million young people in total.
2016 - 2020
Research & Development
Research and Development is a crucial part of the Dance4Life strategy to achieve long term impact. Over the past year we developed an effective model and started doing rigorous research to improve the model and proof that it works: the Youth Empowerment Model creates behavior change and contributes to positive sexual health of young people.
In 2017 we mainly focused on development. With our team of trainers (Trainers4Life) we created the Journey4Life curriculum. We also designed the Champions4Life training. Those champions are the young people who facilitate the Journey4Life, so they need to be well trained and generally fabulous. But situations vary a lot: what works in Kathmandu may not work in Dar Es Salaam. So we developed a process that use to fit the Journey4Life and training to their own context.
We also worked with various experts – Venkatraman Chandra-Mouli of WHO and Doortje Braeken, formerly of IPPF – to revise the theory of change for our youth empowerment model. We’re using the insights we gained to guide our research; we want to learn about the effects of our new model on young people’s learning competencies, and their determinants, intentions and behaviors, and ultimately its contribution to improved sexual and reproductive health. We also want to compare the cost-effectiveness of our approach with other adolescent sexual and reproductive health interventions.
In 2017 we began pilot research projects with our franchisees in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Nepal and Russia. Indeed, I Choose Life in Kenya, a new franchisee, finished the start-up phase and, after partnering with Unicef, moved to implementation. We brought in renowned research institute RAND Europe to assist us: together we are exploring the experiences of our franchisees and their Champions4Life to learn what works well in our franchise strategy and what can be improved. We will share our findings during 2018.
/ Eyes on the prize: empowerment!
Our new model focusses on individuals doing the inner work that is needed to develop personal leadership, because knowing oneself is an essential stepping stone on the path towards empowerment. We aim to enable young people to develop the competencies that are key to dealing with daily tasks and challenges ethically and effectively. By becoming aware of their own motives and feelings, young people get to understand how they have made and can make their own choices.
So we define empowerment as a process through which adolescents develop personal leadership, and become confident with increased agency around their sexual health, and aware of and willing to change harmful social norms around them.
Our direct circle of influence is the young people who participate in the Journey4Life, but they in turn influence services by favouring those that are youth-friendly. also actively influence and generate support from their communities through intergenerational dialogue, sensitising them to young people’s realities, SRH rights and needs.
 Taylor, P. & Murphy, C. (2014). Cath the fire: An art-full guide to unleashing the creative power of youth, adults and communities. Gabriola Island, BC Canada: New Society Publishers.
/ Travelling on the Journey4Life
The core of our new model is the Journey4Life curriculum, designed for youth aged 10 to 24. It uses the holistic approach of positive youth development, and contains activities to build young people’s competences so they become empowered to make healthy choices about their lives and feel confident about their future.
The Journey4Life consists of 10 to 12 Encounters of 60 to 90 minutes each. The journey begins with an inspirational invitation, followed by progression from ME (building confidence), to ME and YOU (creating gender equal attitudes), to ME and SOCIETY (critically assessing and challenging social norms). It ends with a celebration of transformation.
This journey of self-discovery uses journaling, mindfulness, storytelling and creative expression to enable young people’s reflective and critical thinking. Franchisees adapt activities to fit the local context and participants’ needs, including making them age-appropriate.
In 2017, we worked with franchisees in to adapt the Journey4Life to their context. We learned a lot from challenges regarding efficiency and language barriers, and will use those valuable lessons in 2018 as we improve the process of contextualisation.
Our Trainers4Life are young proven leaders who are experts in creative facilitation and our youth empowerment model. We have contracted them to train the Champions4Life, the young people who deliver the Journey4Life in schools and communities.
The Trainers4Life team currently consists of 9 trainers from 5 countries
During 2017 we enabled the Trainers4Life to build their capacity on creative facilitation, and to form a strong community between them. They contributed to the creation of the Journey4Life and the Champions4Life training. They then delivered the first Champions4Life trainings in Kenya, Russia and Nepal, leading to over 100 champions facilitating the Journey4Life in their own communities.
We also created a prototype of an online platform to support the Trainers4Life community, learning and professional growth.
In 2018 we will be training another 14 Trainers4Life; to achieve our ambitious goal we need more of these dynamic young people to scale up our work!
Becoming a Social Franchise
Dance4Life has run transformational programmes for a long time; now for the first time we are transforming how we work. And there is a lot to do to transform into a flourishing social franchise.
In 2017 we addressed the fundamentals: what are we offering, and how do we provide it? What are we expecting from our franchisees? And, crucially, how can we support them to implement the Journey4Life in a high quality manner, to reach their goals? We focused on developing our start-up training package, operations manual, and monitoring and evaluation tools. We also established a Board of Franchisees so that our franchisees are involved in everything that we do, and to stimulate linking and learning within our partner network.
It all starts with our core: The Journey4Life. How do we ensure that our partners fit the Journey4Life to their context and then use it well? We are guided by the strategy of “recruit hard, train well, manage easy”. So we put a lot of effort into and recruiting the right franchisees – organisations that are as passionate as we are about empowering young people, and who have something to add to our own network. Then we give them high quality training, so that they have the knowledge and skills to implement the Journey4Life in such a way it will create sustainable impact.
/ Getting the start-up right
We need to make sure that every franchisee has the knowledge and skills needed for high quality implementation before they begin work. To help achieve this, in 2017 we devised our start-up training package of three workshops. The first kick-off workshop ensures that franchisees get a proper introduction to Dance4Life, the empowerment model and the Journey4Life. It is also when we develop the roadmap for implementation together. The second workshop is where we contextualise the Journey4Life, making sure it fits with local goals, issues and needs. Finally, in the third workshop, our Trainers4Life train the franchisee’s Champions4Life, the young people who facilitate the Journey4Life encounters.
Having devised the start-up workshops we also tested them, observing what worked and what needed further refinement. We completed all 3 workshops in our pilots in Kenya, Russia and Nepal. Though the start-up package will be improved and adapted over time, we gained a lot of insights, so the foundation of these workshops has truly been set.
/ Tooling up
In 2017 we invested time in developing good tools to support our and our franchisees’ work in the future.
Our Operations Manual sets out guidelines on everything related to Dance4Life’s social franchise. It specifies our franchisees’ and our own minimum requirements and responsibilities, and outlines all the steps of setting up a Dance4Life programme through to implementation.
We also began renewing our Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning package, to bring it into line with the Journey4Life. This involves developing questionnaires for our franchisees to adapt and use, and reporting and work plan templates. We also established a new quality control system, so that we can check whether or not the Journey4Life is being implemented to the highest quality.
/ To be (a franchisee) or not to be?
We held our annual partner event, the Dance4Life Experience, in Amsterdam in November. This year our focus was, of course, on the move to a social franchise and our new empowerment model. Our 14 partner organisations had to ask themselves is this something we believe in and is this something we want to transition to? Those that had already answered ‘YES’ and were taking part in the pilot programmes were able to share their experiences.
All in all our partners responded well to our new strategy. After the Dance4Life Experience more partners were eager to become franchisees and transition to using the Journey4Life. Partners who were reluctant in the beginning started the conversation of possibly transitioning. Of course, they asked critical questions, but that is what we need to improve our offer further!
/ Nurturing our network
An important element of our new structure is that franchisees share and learn through the Dance4Life network. In 2017 we hired a Network Manager who set up the network and established a Board of Franchisees comprising two Directors, one Program Coordinator, and one Champion4Life. The members were selected by our partners and the Network Manager, and represent the different regions.
The board’s role is to advise Dance4Life Amsterdam on topics such as research and innovation around the empowerment model, the franchise offer and support system provided by Dance4Life, and how to make the most of the expertise present in our partner network. It also controls the network’s exchange agenda, including the annual exchange budget provided by Dance4Life, which we hope will foster true ownership by our franchisees of the shaping, linking and learning within the network.
In 2018 the Network Manager will continue to act as the link between the Board, the network and Dance4Life Amsterdam, ensuring that franchisees have a voice within the franchise. The focus will be on setting up structures and systems that allow the Board to carry out its mandate and foster innovation and collaboration within the network.
Composition of the Board of Fanchisees (from left to right):
- Indah Yusari – Program Officer – Rutgers Indonesia
- Kaajal Pradhan – Country Director – Restless Development Nepal
- Mariam Adam – Champion4Life / Program Officer – Theatre for Social Change Ghana
- Zhenya Aleexeva – Executive Director – Focus Media Russia
THE GAME IS ON! After comprehensive research and testing we started running our new global citizen programme, Schools4Life, in the Netherlands. It makes young participants aged 12-16 years not only aware of the huge impact of unsafe sex on the lives of their peers globally but also motivated to take action. To make it fresh and up to date we will focus on a different country and a different theme each year.
In 2017 we turned the spotlight on Rutgers Pakistan’s programme. The focus was sexual intimidation and violence. This is one of the biggest health risks for young people in Pakistan, but also a topically prominent issue globally, as shown by the #MeToo campaign.
Over three months our tour team, including two Pakistani Champions4Life, visited 25 schools across The Netherlands and facilitated 223 guest lessons. In total they reached 4.740 youngsters.
The tour team used youth culture, personal stories and lots of energy to engage the students and build heart connections. Through rewards, such as workshops from Dance4Life ambassadors, the students were challenged to do their best and raise money for Rutgers Pakistan’s Dance4Life programme.
Nearly 5.000 youngsters became actively involved who raised almost €34.000. With a top-up of 50c for every €1 from our partner Wilde Ganzen this became €51.000: enough to enable 10.000 Pakistani youngsters to join the Dance4Life programme and become empowered to fight sexual violence. They saved lives!
Based on Questionaires and interviews after the first edition the following results came out:
- 87% recommend Schools4Life to others
- Almost 95% score Schools4Life as 8 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10
- 69% were motivated to take action for the sake of their peers in Pakistan, instead of for prizes
On 30 May we were wildly happy (!) to start a special premium partnership with Wilde Ganzen with the aim of providing the Dutch Scholenactie with financial support. Wilde Ganzen agreed to match the money raised by Dutch students for our work in Pakistan by 50%, to a maximum of €70,000. Thank you, wild geese!
In 2017 our focus was on laying the foundations of our new strategy, with less emphasis on finding new fundraising partners or exceeding the amounts raised in earlier years.
However, we did develop a new concept – the FundRace – and we celebrated the renewal of our partnership with the Dutch Postcode Lottery for the next 5 years. We also cherished our existing, and growing, partnership with the Mac Aids fund and with our Friends4Life, and welcomed our new partner Wilde Ganzen.
Right Here Right Now!
In 2017 we continued working in the Right Here Right Now! (RHRN) partnership. RHRN is a 5-year strategic partnership with The Ministry of Foreign Affairs that aims to improve the sexual health and rights of young people in 11 countries worldwide. The other partners are Rutgers (lead partner), CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality, HIVOS, LACWHN, ARROW, and IPPF-AR. The national platforms are composed of national organisations working on youth SRHR rights, women’s rights, abortion and the rights of LGBT+. They form strong, inclusive, rights-based, but above all progressive voices in a world that is becoming more conservative about sexual rights.
In 2017 the focus was on advocacy and further strengthening the capacities of the platforms to implement their programmes. Dance4Life developed training sessions and provided workshops and skills building on topics including holding youth consultations, gathering and sharing stories for advocacy, use of social media, and strengthening youth-adult partnerships. For the first time we provided skills building sessions through webinars. This allowed us to reach more young people in more countries at a lower cost, and also enabled cross-country learning. We also developed manuals and toolkits about supporting youth advocates with young people from the national platforms, and distributed them in English, French and Spanish.
In terms of high level advocacy, we supported (youth) advocates in their lobbying and advocacy work regarding the Commission on Population and Development process at the UN in New York. We facilitated strong linking and learning between the RHRN partners who were in New York and supported young advocates to share their personal stories at the side event organised by RHRN.
In 2016 we helped initiate the UPR (Universal Periodic Review) youth shadow report. In 2017, for the first time ever, this lead to Pakistan receiving recommendations in its country statements on the elimination of all kinds of discrimination and abuse against, amongst others, the SRHR of women and girls.
Get up Speak Out
2017 was the first full year of implementation of the Get Up Speak Out programme (GUSO), which is operational in 7 countries (6 of which we work in). It’s a consortium of organisations (Rutgers, IPPF, Choice for Youth and Sexuality, Aidsfonds, Simavi and us) partnering with The Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of their SRHR Fund. We are all working together towards improved SRHR for young people, especially girls and young women. It uses a multi-component approach: working simultaneously on ensuring sexuality education, youth-friendly services and building a supportive environment.
The program works with national SRHR alliances. These platforms are important resources where different national organisations can cooperate and learn from each other, ultimately enabling peers, parents and policy makers to work positively towards young people’s sexuality awareness. The Dance4Life partners specifically take a strong lead in empowering young people. The GUSO programme ensures that this work is always connected as part of the wider program. For instance, a young person going through the empowerment model of Dance4Life who is in need of healthcare can be referred to a clinic that is trained in youth friendly practices by one of the other partners in the alliance. This connection is hugely important, as seeking sexual health services for young, unmarried people is considered taboo in most countries.
/ Seeking proof
Unfortunately, we did not manage to secure funding to invest in Proof of Concept research during 2017. We want to run rigorous research of high scale implementation to explore and record how use of our model leads to behaviour change and improvement of health outcomes. However, with staff changes and our focus on priorities of developing our model, the Trainers4Life and the social franchise infrastructure, we were not successful. Securing investment for this is now a priority for 2018.
/ Shrinking space for civil society
In the last 10 years, human rights organisations, pro-democracy actors and wider civil society movements in many countries are facing increased restrictions when trying to carry out their work. This specifically accounts for work in the area that Dance4Life and its partners are active in; sexual and reproductive health and rights. Governments are erecting legal and administrative barriers, making it more difficult for civil society organisations who receive foreign support and funding to operate. In January 2017, President Trump reinstated and expanded the Global Gag Rule, having a large hampering impact on funding of the work of our partners.
Specific examples of this shrinking space are Uganda, Pakistan (see below)
/ Letting go of partners that do not fit our partner profile:
Our transformation to becoming a Social Franchise also meant we had to take a critical look at what we expect from a franchisee. We developed a clear partner profile and tested this profile in a market research. We took a critical look at our current partner network. Fortunately, most of our partners fit the profile. A few do not yet fit the profile, but we will offer support to them in 2018 so that they can get there. And unfortunately after having done an extensive external audit we had to conclude that one partner in Kenya had too weak financial management to fit the profile. As there was too little ground to be confident they could improve their financial management, we decided to part ways.
Over the years, the environment for access to sexual reproductive health and rights has been shrinking in Uganda. In 2017, the political situation remained relatively stable but highly restricted and limited for SRHR oriented work. The continued “Ban on Comprehensive Sexuality Education” by the parliament affected timely implementation of in-school activities and resulted in a shift towards using more conservative materials at schools as requested by the government. Our partner has joined forces with partners in the Get Up Speak Out Alliance partners and other likeminded organisations to organise key policy level activities targeted towards a supportive policy environment for the delivery of rights based sexuality education programmes and youth responsive SRHR services. This ongoing debate with the government will continue in 2018
During 2017 the Government of Pakistan ordered 27 international NGOs to shut their operations, accusing them of working against Pakistan’s national interests and cultural values. Among these was Dance4Life’s partner Rutgers Pakistan. In response, a delegation of foreign envoys including the Dutch Mission in Pakistan called on the interior minister. As a result, the interior ministry agreed to look further into each INGO’s case, allowing them to operate until a final decision is taken.
Of course, our first year of transition has involved changes in how we structure our organisation. We have created and tested a new structure, hired some new staff, and altered how tasks are divided between us. As always, we aim to recruit hard, train well, manage easy.
/ Our team in Amsterdam
We reorganised our Amsterdam staff into 7 self-steering teams, each reporting to the Leadership team (either the Executive Director or the Director of Franchising and R&D), and each with a Team Facilitator as their focal point. 6 of the teams cover our 3 main areas of work, focusing on scale (franchising), buy-in (engagement) and proof (research and development). Besides that we have a support team focussing on Finance, HR and IT.
In 2017 our Amsterdam staffing was on average 21 people (full time equivalent) compared to 20 in 2016. Of course, this does not include the huge amount of time donated by many volunteers and trainees, mainly during fundraising activities, and the work of our franchisees across the globe.
Our executive director, Eveline Aendekerk, is accountable to the chair of the Supervisory Board and reports to that board on a regular basis. Her earnings were €81.120 (based on 0,8 fte) in 2017, which is below the maximum of €143.200 (0,8 fte) stipulated in the Code of Good Governance.
/ Our Supervisory Board
As the name suggests, this board supervises the Executive Director and our planned activities and budget. Its members are appointed for a period of four years, with a maximum of two terms.
The Supervisory Board members were, at the end of 2017:
- Thérèse van Schie (Chair), independent consultant
- Laura Lasance, Executive Director of Humanity in Action
- Wietse Tjoelker (Treasurer), certified auditor, investor and consultant
- Doortje Braeken, expert in adolescent SRHR (replaced Tex Gunning)
- Godert van Dedem, SVP marketing EMEA at Ebay (replaced Joris Aperghis)
As in previous years, the board members received no fees during 2017. They met 5 times (on 7 February, 18 April, 18 July, 31 October and 12 December) and each time heard and discussed the Executive Director’s report on our work and performance against the 2017 Yearplan and 2017 to 2020 Business Plan. The Chair of the Board also consulted with other members before holding, with our Human Resource Manager, the Executive Director’s yearly appraisal.
Dance4Life is a financially healthy foundation. We can meet all of our financial obligations in the long and short run. Moreover, our income comes from various sources. This helps us not to depend on one donor or source of income too much.
Our income of 2017 was € 2.665.357, this is 33% less than in 2016. We had expected this, the decline is primarily caused by the timing of grants: in 2016 we recorded income from GUSO grants to be distributed during 2016 and 2017.
This chart illustrates our diversified income base and shows clearly that we do rely on several sources of income. Income from Private Individuals refers to income from the New York Marathon and the Schools4Life program and donations from private major donors. Income from Companies includes income from our Friends4Life memberships, the Funky Fundraiser and Projects with our Friends. Income from Lotteries constitutes income from the Nationale Postcode Loterij. Income from Government is the income we receive from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Finally, Income from other Non-Profit Organisations consists of the income we received from other foundations and our franchisees.
How our budget is spend:
We aim to spend as much as possible of our income on our mission. In 2017, 74% of our expenditure was spend on our mission, € 2.083.685. We spend 17% of our expenditure on Fundraising, and 9% on Organisational costs. This division is completely in line with internal and external benchmarks.
At the end of 2017 our continuity reserve was € 670.651. We aim to increase this reserve to € 800.000 as we have set with our supervisory board, this is the right amount to cover our continuity risk. In addition, we have a dedicated reserve for our transitioning program of € 172.063.
Dance4Life looks back on a year of development. We invested substantially in the development of our Youth Empowerment Model and in our transitioning to a social franchise. Because of this the financial result of 2017 was a loss of € 141.872. This is completely in line with what we budgeted for.
Click here for our detailed financial report.
2018 will be the second year of our 4 year transitioning period. During this period we need to transition our positioning, organisation and network to ensure we are able to realise our 2030 goal. Our main focus for 2018 is therefore to BE OUT THERE!
We have summarised the 5 main goals for 2018 as follows:
- Secure 3 Proof of Concepts in our priority regions (Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe & Central Asia).
- Gain evidence (through the pilots) that our empowerment model and social franchise works.
- Have the successful transition to franchisees using the new model among 13 partners and recruit 4 new partners.
- Be visible in relevant media and on relevant stages through stories about the issue of unsafe sex, the Journey4Life and/or our social franchise.
- Secure sufficient unearmarked funds to .