Sunday, March 16, 2008

Do NGOs talk to each other? iCONGO

This post is the first attempt to find out if the NGOs working on the same social concern talk to one another. Is there an umbrella under which NGOs of similar objectives come together to share knowledge and best practices so that they improve their reach to their beneficiaries? For example, an NGO called Project511 has a programme to train school drop-outs so that they can take sales jobs in retail outlets. Dr. Reddy's Foundation has a programme that almost exactly works on the same. Yet, the former doesn't know of the latter's programme. (I talked to a project co-ordinator of Project511).
So, they may be training too many people for retail sales job requirement and not even know about it. This problem is hypothetical (This is not a subject of discussion) just to point out that, proper interface between NGOs is probably necessary to effectively achieve their individual proposes.
To see if such a initiative already exists, I looked at an organization called Indian Confederation of NGOs (iCONGO) that Aishwaraya Mishra pointed out. I grabbed some time to go through their website to find out what they are upto. Here is my pseudo-research and conclusion

iCONGO: Indian Confederation of NGOs
Purpose:
In their own words "iCONGO is poised to be like the CII or NASSCOM for the NGO sector". Their objective is to help all the NGOs in India (irrespective of their area of concentration) work in an effective manner so that it benefits the beneficiaries to the maximum possible extent. For that, they strive to bridge the gap between two ends, the givers (individuals who donate money) and the takers (the NGOs).
Explanation of Purpose:
Individuals:
A few people give money to NGOs out of sheer emotion, a few donate to NGOs that market themselves well (but retain a larget % of money for their upkeep rather than using it for society). On the other hand a few keep from donating despite their willingness because they don't know how effectively the NGO is using the money. iCONGO strives to ensure that the individual gives the money with full knowledge of what the NGO is doing, how it uses the money (what % goes to the cause). In other words, it wants the individual to "invest" not "donate" for a cause stated by the NGO.
NGOs:
To help individuals to "invest" rather than "donate", iCONGO seems to enlist NGOs that pass certain tests like transparency, accountability, uses less than 20% of the contributed money for its upkeep. This gives the necessary pieces of information to an individual to contribute money to an effective, but less known NGO that works on an issue that is closer to his/her heart (say child education).
Futher it claims to have pioneered certain processes like "direct selling" and it seems to make available to NGOs its infrastructure like direct selling agencies, retail shops, discounted media rates, cause related marketing ideation etc.
Bottom-line:
I have gone through the website to the extent possible in the last two hours, but found nothing that iCONGO does to make sure that NGOs working on a similar issue talk to each other, share knowledge to improve their collective reach to the beneficiaries.

1 comment:

Aish said...

I stand vindicated :-). But yes it does make it necessary for us to search for another organization that does it and/or initiate a step in this direction