← Back to Home

Blog Feature
Ryan Coleman

By: Ryan Coleman on October 25th, 2013

Print/Save as PDF

5 Steps to NGO Success - Part 1: Collaboration

Data Management | Project Monitoring


As NGO.Org states: "A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens' group which is organized on a local, national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, NGOs perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, bring citizen concerns to Governments, advocate and monitor policies and encourage political particpation through provision of information. Some are organized around specific issues, such as human rights, environment or health."

But accomplishing your goals in an NGO is a big task, and now, more than ever, the money funding an NGO must be  validated, with a definite return on investment.

So how can an NGO best accomplish its goals while responsibly utilizing funds? Several experts have offered their ideas. Here are 7 steps to success for you NGO.

< Part 1: Collaboration      < Part 2: Listen & Learn    Part 3: Money & Marketing 
Part 4: Monitoring and Evaluation >

1. Collaborate: As an Article at Sci Dev states:

"Accessing new technologies, and forging cooperation between researchers, designers and engineers, can be crucial for those working in poverty-stricken and politically volatile regions."


First, don't start from Scratch

By using off-the shelf solutions, NGO's can prevent delays from defining a need, and solving the problem. Civil Rights Defenders, a Stockholm-based organization that works to protect human-rights campaigners in some of the world's most volatile regions, dealt with kidnappings, and sometimes murders of its workers. Through collaboration with a Swedish tech company, they found an answer – A 'smart bracelet', which, when triggered sends out a message to social media using mobile  and GPS technologies to warn that its wearer is in danger.

Look for the best solutions, even if they are not your own

Another example stated is SolarAid, a Nairobi-based NGO with a commercial arm called SunnyMoney selling cheap, solar-powered study lights to off-grid rural communities across Africa. The NGO, however, is always looking for other manufacturers to make its humanitarian aid more effective. Technology, durability, and price are important. So is the audience. Also developmental organizations such as the Gates Foundation, NASA, USAID, the Vodafone Americas Foundation odften offer ways to network with other NGO's offering different approaches to you NGO's goals.

Listen to Your Audience

Only by talking to the people helped by your NGO can you truly provide the right solutions. As one researcher states:

"Collaborating with researchers and universities in the countries where technologies will be used is vital for successful development projects."

The collaboration is "participatory", Preziosi explains: "local acceptance of the study and constant dialogue with the community are essential."


Empower Your Audience

To ensure continuation of programs and solutions, the local government, educators, and facilitators must be made a part of the solution, with power for implementation long after the NGO has moved to other parts of the world.

Training is imperative ... "You have to build the local capacity, to train people to operate and maintain technology. The collaboration with universities is very helpful.

"We try as much as possible to ensure that its operation and maintenance should be under complete control of the users, and that they have ways of solving any problems that arise. The idea is to transfer this as much as possible to local consultants and technicians or workshops."


Part 1: Collaboration      Part 2: Listen & Learn >    Part 3: Money & Marketing >     Part 4: Monitoring and Evaluation >

This is the first in a Five Part Series on NGO Success by John Gallagher & Ryan Coleman of iFormBuilder. To learn more about how iFormBuilder can help your NGO or other organiztion, Visit our Overview Page, and get started with Mobile Data Collection, online or offline >>

About Ryan Coleman

Ryan Coleman is the VP of Sales at Zerion and works directly with enterprise deployments around the world. A former resident of San Diego, California, Ryan enjoys sunsets and photographing the coast. If you have any questions about improving your business processes, he would love to hear from you!

  • Connect with Ryan Coleman