8 community design
society, politics and efficiency
eight is about NGO’s. Theme two already explained some about NGO’s
which will be quickly repeated, but this theme dives into more
detail: about how they are operating in the civil society, how they
deal with politics and how effective they are in the end. The essence
will clarify the subject more by my opinion and examples.
of with a little repetition for a solid basis understanding of NGO’s
to afterwards continue on the subject.
NGO’s are organized by people with a common interest and are
searching for help and attention by the citizens and the government.
Most people are opinionated that NGO’s belong to the fourth sector
which is for benefits instead of for profit or deliberately not for
profit. Both NGO’s and the government have to adapt to the rise of
this new fourth sector.
NGO’s should stand for:
democratization, privatization, development, social transformation
and charity. These factors are included in the three different roles
of an NGO: direct poverty reduction, civil society building and lobby
and advocacy (see for examples the essence). However, adapting to the
fourth sector includes four immense challenges which are now a
priority of NGO’s. The challenges will be extended in the following
they struggle with being non-political, because of operating in the
Since also NGO’s have to fit the highly political arena, trying to
advance the interests of beneficiaries is difficult. Effect is NGO’s
choosing less confrontational priorities. Don’t trying to fit in
the highly political arena is either impossible, because the
government plays an important role in the enabling environment and
restricted their space to operate. NGO’s have to adapt to this
restricted environment where they want to operate as well. Sometimes,
the consequence of this struggle is a partnership between NGO’s and
governments. Both take advantage of this partnership, because
governments learn from NGO approaches and NGO’s can more freely and
strongly operate, possibly without the influence of donor funds.
they have to be accountable ‘upward’ to donors instead of
Next to a possible partnership with the government, donor funds can
be searched for. These donor funds have to be in line with the
activities (campaigns, negotiation, activism etc.) of that NGO.
Having found one, NGO’s find donors demanding economic growth and
measurable results. With as consequence a huge focus on satisfying
their donors instead of working from their grassroots.
and in line with the second, NGO’s are forced to focus on short
term projects, while focusing on long-term structural change is more
The reason her fore, is that only the results of short term projects
(big D development) are measurable (needed for donor funds). However,
focus on a service delivery function isn’t needed anymore, since
that became the responsibility of a developing countries’
government. Better can be focused on the long-term (little d
development), where together with many actors change is pursued in
processes, while working from the grassroots.
NGO’s have only weak roots in society.
Cause is that NGO’s focus on donor funding which risks civil
society groups to dictate an NGO’s position and professionalization
instead of their transforming agenda. While focusing on their
transforming agendas, civil society groups in developing countries
are able to connect and to achieve an active role in development.
Only when they speak actively from themselves, change of transforming
agendas will be fostered.
essence of the subject based on my opinion and examples
think it’s real difficult to be an NGO, because trust has never
been this important for their partners.
Without trust, it makes sense that donor funds ask for economic
growth and measurable results. When that is the case, everything goes
the wrong direction; focus on big D development makes an NGO
ineffective and it will lose its actors. While these actors are
important to overcome legal barriers, such as entry, operational
activity, speech and advocacy, communication and cooperation,
assembly and resources.
essence for me is to stay close to your grassroots to earn trust.
Only trough a bottom-up manner from their grassroots together with
the beneficiaries can be effective. Aligning with grassroots makes it
easier to connect for beneficiaries, because of the clear goal they
strive for. Then, policy and donor influence can be limited, because
the alternative NGO developments (including beneficiaries, actors and
informal support) will fulfill their transforming agenda. And the
less influence from outsiders with a different program, the more
focus can be aimed at little d development.
focusing on the long term little d development can be seen as vague
NGO’s suddenly ask for collaboration to work towards changing –
most of the time deeply rooted – processes. Here for, people have
to really understand the foundation of such an NGO. All in all, more
consideration and time is asked of people. It’s easier to support
through giving 5 euro’s for big D development and people are
willing to support through giving money more easily.
conclude this theme, I want to give a few examples of NGO’s divided
in the different roles.
An example of an NGO aiming at direct poverty reduction is ‘Save
the children’. They want to invest in a healthy start in the life
of children, including the opportunity to learn and the protection
from harm. This cares for a better future. ‘Save the children’
operates in 120 countries together with many beneficiaries. The NGO
keeps their promise of being mainly for benefits, as 86,5% goes to
programs. The NGO ‘Ashoka’ aims at civil society building, which
includes the global need to cultivate and support a community of
change leaders by transforming institutions and cultures. Lobby and
advocacy is used to influence the policy and behavior of power
holders and is a way to pursue change. Therefore, the political role
is becoming more central and is rooted in grassroots level. These
NGO’s support corresponding movements. An example of lobby and
advocacy is ‘Ceres’, they want to tackle the world’s biggest
sustainability challenges through powerful networks and advocacy.