Guiding and supporting the development of its member National Societies is one of the Federation's fundamental tasks. The IFRC works through both its Secretariat in Geneva and its country and regional delegations to provide this capacity building support.
Promoting opportunities for National Societies to cooperate and learn from each other is vitally important. This can include regional meetings (such as a Pan African conference in September 2000), workshops ("youth power" in Sweden in July 1999) and networks (for example, an HIV/AIDS network in Asia).
Building the capacities of volunteers and training leaders and managers are also vital elements in strengthening National Societies. Preparing methodology for disaster preparedness strategies, and quality standards for blood programmes are examples of other ways the Federation can support its members.
A set of indicators has been produced which helps National Societies to plan and measure their progress in capacity building. These "customised assessment and performance indicators" list 120 checkpoints towards achieving the defined characteristics of a well-functioning National Society.
To assist National Societies with their long-term fund-raising, the Federation provides technical assistance, training materials and performance indicators to National Societies who were working towards a diversified, sustainable funding base.
Highlighting the importance of gender issues when managing programmes is also addressed to ensure that the social and biological differences between men and women are taken into account and dealt with in all core programmes.
Policies are developed to guide the IFRC and National Societies in many of these key areas. The policies aim to ensure a basic quality and consistency of approach for Red Cross and Red Crescent action worldwide.
The building of longer-term funding relationships with governments and donor National Societies helps strengthen the quality and impact of the IFRC's development efforts. It also contributes to improved field planning through the introduction of regional and country assistance strategies which summarise the priority areas for longer term support.
Partnership coordination meetings bring together donor National Societies to plan common approaches in all regions for those National Societies in need of external support for their programmes.