As an umbrella organization of agencies, groups, and individuals serving the South Asian community, the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA) strives to become a resource for information, research, mobilization, coordination, and leadership on social justice issues affecting the South Asian communities. As part of its mission, CASSA works to create social change by building partnerships and alliances across Canada that enable the collaboration and empowerment of all communities participating in defining Canada’s future. This drives its member-focused approach, as shown through its structure and functionalities. CASSA views members as partners in its work and advocates on their behalf. Without these partnerships, we would be operating in silos, which would be contrary to CASSA’s values.
CASSA provides numerous benefits to its member organizations and partners by:
- Being Responsive:
- At CASSA, we listen first, engage in conversation, receive and convey feedback, and consult with partners.
- CASSA listens to our partner and member organization input and feedback when developing and creating new projects, through a community-centered approach
- While our partners are not required to contribute staff to projects, unless otherwise outlined in project contracts, they can meet as often as they have capacity for project updates
- Enhancing Capacity:
- CASSA has the capacity to focus and provide guidance on areas related to social and systems change; something that most agencies do not have resources for. This includes advocacy, training, capacity building, education, and public awareness.
- For some organizations, it could be challenging to advocate causes, while providing front-line services; that’s where CASSA will step in, bring other stakeholders together, and create pathways for meaningful change
- CASSA provides a great range of networks to support the work of other agencies and institutions focused on the well-being of South Asians in Canada
- Organizations aiming to offer inclusive programs can seek CASSA’s assistance in reaching diverse members of the South Asian community who have varied life experiences
- Advocating for rights and benefits:
- CASSA believes it is only through partnerships that advocacy can have a collective impact for not only the South Asian communities but other BIPOC communities as well. As partners, we can come together to advocate for more progressive policies that are equity driven
- Samya Hasan, CASSA’s Executive Director, believes, “All of our advocacy efforts are a lot more effective if we build coalitions and if we do it together in partnership; so we can demonstrate that it’s not just the South Asian communities experiencing disadvantages from certain policies, but other racialized communities also experiencing disadvantages.”
In an effort to form and maintain long-lasting, mutually beneficial, and strong partnerships, CASSA has the following advice for those who are contemplating getting involved with CASSA through partnership:
- As you enter into a partnership with CASSA, we hope you do so with the right intentions. This includes asking questions such as: “What is the meaning of your partnership with CASSA?”, “What is the reason behind this partnership?” “How can CASSA aid me in achieving my goals and vice versa”
- We hope your choice of partnering with CASSA reflects your interest in empowering the South Asian community and your desire to develop proposals that would benefit the community in the long term.
- CASSA prefers to be involved from the inception of the idea so that proposals and/or projects are co-developed between the partners. This allows us to provide our input before things have been finalized.
- CASSA does not favor partnerships proposed at the last minute, especially when it is only done to check boxes for an application or funder
- While we encourage groups and individuals to get in touch with CASSA before submitting proposals, we recognize that certain restrictions may not allow that to happen. In those cases, if agencies/institutions learn about CASSA after the approval of the project, we are open to engaging in discussions on meaningful partnerships
- We encourage ongoing conversations, updates, and feedback throughout the lifecycle of the campaign or project.
- As a community-based organization, CASSA is mindful of not adding work beyond the capacity of community-based agencies which are already resource-limited. Almost always, we acknowledge our partners’ help and support them with some sort of remuneration for their time and effort; whether that is through staff time compensation or honorariums, and coupled with in-kind contributions.
- In order to collaborate with community-based organizations like CASSA, we urge you to consider compensation seriously for staff time required to provide our support. Individuals should be paid for their time, even if they assist in facilitating sessions, taking notes, training, advising, etc. Without compensation to keep us functioning, it is extremely difficult for small community-based organizations to function if they are constantly working for free.