Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A BOND APPROACH: Putting Beneficiaries First

British Overseas NGOs for Development (BOND) is an organization founded in June 1993, on the initiative of 61 NGOs to improve the UK's contribution to international development by promoting the exchange of experience, ideas and information amongst its member organizations and other NGOs in the UK and internationally that have an interest in international development.

Today, BOND has over 300 members and is officially recognized by the UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID). It is also the United Kingdom's broadest network of NGOs working in international development.

In furtherance of its work, BOND manages training, advocacy and information services for NGOs. One specific accomplishment of BOND is the production of a report in September of 2006 entitled: "A BOND Approach to Quality in Non-Governmental Organisations: Putting Beneficiaries First"

Because of the growing debate about quality systems and standards needed to enhance the performance of NGOs, BOND commissioned Keystone and AccountAbility to research this issue in order for BOND to help better understand the direction and approach that can be taken to further support its members.

The Report is quite lengthy but very interesting. I believe it will be an extremely helpful document for NGOs in evaluating their own operations. And because BOND is looking for feedback on its report, I strongly recommend it as important reading for individuals seriously involved in international NGO work.

I have excerpted portions of the Executive Summary of the Report to give the reader an idea about what is discussed.

"The quality of an NGO's work is primarily determined by the quality of its relationships with its intended beneficiaries.

"If an NGO maintains a respectful dialogue with its intended beneficiaries, recognising their priorities from their points of view, and beneficiaries shape operational decisions, then this creates a framework within which an NGO's analysis, response and evaluation are likely to be high quality.

"These relationships may be mediated by specific individuals who represent beneficiary groups to NGO staff. They will also be influenced by many other stakeholders, including government, donors, and political interests. It depends on an NGO's ability to adapt its work flexibly to changing local conditions and priorities. Members were explicit in arguing that, for NGOs, quality depends on the relationships with beneficiaries taking priority over the achievement of pre-determined project goals and other 'professional' management practices. They also noted that it takes priority over quality assurance mechanisms for specific activities, such as (for instance) the build quality of new classrooms; the primary risk being that an NGO's activities, no matter how well implemented, do not respond to beneficiaries' realities and priorities."

The Report further states:

"Crucially, NGOs will need to make sure that they have the right people in place to develop relationships on the ground, with appropriate values and skills, committed to learning and staying in the same place for a reasonable length of time. BOND members drew a distinction between investments made in hard skills, such as accounting, and the soft skills of listening, responsiveness and interpersonal accountability that are ultimately more determinative of quality."

Some of the problems encountered while trying to carry out this function is also discussed:

"A number of members pointed to the tension between balancing organisational interests and beneficiaries' interests. They commented that staff need flexibility and autonomy to nurture local relationships with beneficiaries and local implementing partners. When organisations' systems are unduly corporately bureaucratic or internally focused, they limit flexibility on the ground, and can constrain relationships between NGO staff and beneficiaries, as well as diverting staff's energy to focus inside the organisation."

Finally, BOND states:

"Recognising the diversity and independence of NGOs and their donors, we offer this exploration as a challenge to everyone working in our sector. We hope that this report provides an initial step in crystallising a common view of quality that may become the basis for common action to strengthen our performance and do more to help poor, vulnerable and marginalised people around the world to improve their own lives."

Links to the Executive Summary of the Report, the full Report and Individual Chapters (in both PDF and ".doc" format can be found at the following site:


The Home Site for British Overseas NGOs for Development can be found at BOND

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

GrassrootSoccer "Using the Power of Soccer to Fight AIDS"

Founded by Tommy Clark,MD, Grassroot Soccer became a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization in 2002. Dr. Clark conceived of the idea after having played soccer professionally in Zimbabwe. During that time he witnessed first hand both the power of soccer and the tragedy of HIV. He enlisted a group of friends who had similar experiences, and with the help of co-founders Methembe Ndlovu, Ethan Zohn and Kirk Friedrich created Grassroot Soccer.

Their web site states:
"Grassroot Soccer works primarily in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and Botswana. In addition, through select partnerships, we work in other African countries, including Ethiopia, Liberia, Lesotho, and Namibia. Click here to learn more about our global efforts to address the HIV epidemic."

The Strategy

To develop the best youth targeted HIV prevention curriculum possible.

To share our curriculum and approach with local organizations - this allows us to achieve scale in a sustainable way while making use of local knowledge and skills.

To use the power of soccer in a variety of ways to increase our impact.

The Mission

Grassroot Soccer's mission is to mobilize the global soccer community in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We have developed an internationally recognized HIV prevention curriculum that uses soccer players and the game itself to teach awareness about the disease, critical life skills, and prevention strategies to young people.

They say that "using the power of soccer in the fight against AIDS, Grassroot Soccer provides African youth with the skills and support to live HIV free.

"The GRS approach uses the power and popularity of soccer to break down cultural barriers, educate young people, and bring communities together around this important issue. GRS uses a unique activities-based curriculum to prepare trainers and peer educators to reach out to their communities and educate the population at large about how to avoid of HIV infection.

"It is a tremendous challenge to make the leap from HIV/AIDS awareness to HIV/AIDS prevention. It involves a much longer and more targeted intervention. The GRS curriculum is a very deliberate in its attempts to do that -- however it is not a stand-alone document. The training of trainers is an extremely important part of the strategy."

Because of this GRS sees the curriculum as a process, and recommends against simply using one or more games from the curriuculum as part of a separate program of youth HIV/AIDS education. They encourage interested individuals and organizations to contact them in order to discuss what strategies might work to enable a particular program to include the GRS curriculum in their activities, including GRS's options for Trainer-of-Trainer sessions.

The GRS website states:

"We help students feel they are supported by their communities - a key to successful behavior change: The percentage of students who could list three people they could talk to about HIV increased from 33% to 72%

"We help students know what resources are available in their communities: The percentage of students who knew where to go for help for HIV related problems increased from 47 to 76%

"We help students battle HIV-related stigma: The percentage of students who said they would feelcomfortable providing emotional support for an HIV positive classmate increased from 52% to 73%

"We help dispel life-threatening misconceptions: The percentage of students who believed condoms were effectively increased from 49% to 71%

GRS has several Outreach Programs

"GRS has its four "flagship" projects in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and South Africa, but it runs "outreach projects with NGO partners that are interested in and have the capacity and funding to run effective sport for development projects. Grassroot Soccer helps organizations to start successful programs by providing technical assistance through training, curriculum and project design, and systems for monitoring and evaluation. Outreach projects are an important part of Grassroot Soccer because they allow us to share our educational resources and expertise in using soccer as an HIV/AIDS prevention tool without being stretched too thin in terms of our own human resources."

"Grassroot Soccer says that it began these collaborative projects in 2004 with the Sports For Life (SFL) program in Zambia and Ethiopia. Sports For Life is a project run by Health Communication Partnerships (HCP), a USAID funded initiative that involves such organizations as The Academy for Educational Development (AED) and Johns Hopkins University Center For Communication Partnerships (JHUCCP). Grassroot Soccer worked with Sports For Life to design a joint curriculum and help them launch a major project in Ethiopia that is now being delivered in more than 1,000 schools and has reached more than 1.4 million people. GRS has since then provided training and technical assistance for several successful SFL projects including recent initiatives in Lesotho and Namibia.

"The success of SFL and interest in sport for development in the NGO community has also led to several additional collaborative projects for GRS in the past few years. We have worked with Mercy Corps to help start projects in Liberia and Sudan. We have worked with Lesotho Planned Parenthood to pilot a project in several districts in Lesotho. We have also worked with our NGO partners to design and develop new educational materials such as the Extra Time magazine. By sharing ideas and resources GRS has been able to reach out to tremendous numbers of people. We are always looking for like-minded partners that seek to integrate sports related HIV/AIDS prevention into their programs.

Grassroot Soccer in Namibia

"Sports for Life (SFL) uses the excitement of soccer to involve youth and young adults in HIV/AIDS prevention and care activities, capturing the attention of young people in an environment where they feel comfortable exploring serious and sensitive issues. SFL is a peer-driven, life skills program that has been tested, launched, and replicated in rural and urban environments. Through its innovative behavior change curriculum, SFL participants and trainers promote healthy behaviors to youth in their communities through a competitive teams approach.

"HCP/Namibia is piloting a sport-based HIV-prevention program called NAWA Sport which is based on the SFL curriculum, approach, and model. Ian Oliver, HCP/SFL Program Coordinator, and Jeff DeCelles, Grassroot Soccer Program Manager, were brought to Namibia to assist in the initial planning and training for this pilot phase of the program. Grassroot Soccer is a partner organization to SFL that provides assistance with training and program launches in other countries.

"HCP/Namibia has developed a network of Community Action Forums (CAFs) in 10 sites across Namibia. It is through this infrastructure that HCP plans to roll out NAWA Sport.

Grassroot Soccer in South Africa
"In South Africa, we have been working to prepare to launch programs by the end of 2005. We are working closely with the renowned international communications firm Fleishman Hillard to conduct needs assessments and identify communities and organizations to work with.

"The 2010 World Cup will be held in South Africa, and provides the ideal opportunity to highlight the power of soccer as an educational tool and raise the world's awareness about the global HIV/AIDS epidemic.

"Grassroot Soccer plans to capitalize on this opportunity by having South Africa as the focal point of its programs leading up to 2010.

Grassroot Soccer in Ethiopia
"Collaboration with international NGO and domestic and foreign allows for the rapid launch of a large-scale program.

"Grassroot Soccer helped to launch Sports For Life (SFL) in 2004 with the US Agency for International Development (USAID)- funded Health Communication Partnership (HCP).

"GRS hired and trained 15 local staff that conducted trainings of PE teachers from more than 250 schools, ran health festivals and youth soccer tournaments with more than 50,000 people in attendance, and is in the process of training hundreds of sports coaches to deliver the GRS curriculum to their teams.

Grassroot Soccer in Zambia
"Partnership with the domestic government, and local and international and corporations, yields rapid and effective scale up.

"In just two months operating in Zambia, GRS has had tremendous success and shown the true potential of our program. GRS, in collaboration with various local community-based organizations (CBOs), has trained more than 1,000 young people and infused its curriculum into several existing community-based projects.

"We are working with the International Organization of Migration and several CBOs to run reproductive health education soccer camps in multiple refugee settlements. We have trained staff from more than 10 local organizations to adopt our curriculum into their existing sport for development projects. We have worked with our local partner, Youth Activist Organization (YAO), to train peer educator soccer teams throughout Lusaka.

"As a result of our efforts, we are in negotiations to launch a private-public partnership project that will train physical education teachers to deliver the GRS curriculum in schools throughout Zambia. GRS will work with local organizations and large NGOs to ensure that this project is successful and that thorough evaluation takes place.

Grassroot Soccer in Zimbabwe
"Bulawayo is Zimbabwe's second-largest city after the capital, Harare, and is home to nearly 700,000 people. It is also home to the Bulawayo Highlanders, the professional soccer club for which Tommy, Kirk, Ethan and other founding members of Grassroot Soccer played while living in Zimbabwe, and as such was the natural location for our first programs.

"Kirk launched Grassroot Soccer's flagship program in January of 2003, our initial program. Today in Bulawayo, GRS trains professional players from the Zimbabwean Men's and Women's National Soccer Teams to deliver 5-day behavior change educational programs to youth. Thanks to our strong ties to the soccer community and key local organizations, our strong and capable local staff continue to graduate more than 200 students per month from this effective program at a time when many other organizations have had to abandon their efforts due to an unstable political climate.

"The Children's Health Council, a Stanford University affiliate research group, conducted an evaluation of Grassroot Soccer's Zimbabwe program and found it to be remarkably successful at communicating Grassroot Soccer's curriculum. Please click here for more details of the study.

"The Bulawayo program was developed in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Ministry of Education, the Bulawayo City Council, Rotary International, and various professional soccer teams.

I have quoted liberally from the Grassroot Soccer website, but to get the full story you really need to go to their web site.

Grassroot Soccer

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

MANGO: And Its Guide Of Financial Management For NGOs

M ango is a UK-registered charity that exists to help NGOs strengthen their financial management. They make available publications, training and staff recruitment. In furtherance of its objectives, Mango has posted its "Guide of Financial Management for NGOs" . The major sponsors for Mango's Mango's Guide of Financial Management for NGOs are the European Commission Humanitarian Office, Oxfam GB, the British Red Cross Society, Christian Aid, CAFOD, QuickBooks and PwC - Links to all of these sponsors can be found at Mango's site.

Mangos' web site states:
"Mango's Guide provides practical advice to everyone working with NGOs, to help them use their funds effectively to meet beneficiaries' real needs. It is based on a real understanding of what NGOs do, from Mango's experience of working with NGOs around the world, in the field and in head office."

There are five sections on Mango's Guide and they are described as follows:

" Introduction - key responsibilities for trustees, senior managers, finance staff and donors. Principles of financial management for NGOs.

Getting the Basics Right - the building blocks: keeping accounts, financial planning, financial monitoring and maintaining control. Also: working with beneficiaries, managing audits and legal requirements.

Advanced Issues - financial sustainability, working with donors, giving and receiving grants, accountability (including cost-effectiveness) and overseeing controls.

What NGOs Do - a short introduction to what NGOs do and what this means for managing their work. The important implications for managing NGOs are summed up as two golden rules.

Resources - practical resources available to download and use, including Mango's highly-rated training manual, a complete financial system and Mango's Health Check, available in five different languages."

For example, under the "Trustee responsibility" section in the introduction, Mango gives a very clear and concise explanation of what those responsibilities are.

"Trustees have overall responsibility for using an NGO's resources to achieve its objectives. They have to pay careful attention to financial affairs. They also have to make sure that senior managers take financial management seriously. Good financial management starts with the board. "

It also provides "a checklist of trustees' main financial management responsibilities". They focus on overseeing the organisation, rather than hands-on management, and include:

"Making sure that funds are used to help beneficiaries effectively;
Making sure that the organisation has enough funding;
Making sure that the organisation has effective senior management;
Making sure that the organisation operates within the law;
Making sure that the board can handle its responsibilities effectively.

A brief description of the Senior Managers' responsibilities as set out by the Mango site also gives a good picture of the type of useful information that can be found there. Time and space does not allow me to set that information out in detail, so I shall merely list the topic headings below:

1. Making sure that funds are used to help beneficiaries effectively

2. Making sure that the organisation has enough funding

3. Making sure that the organisation has effective senior management

4. Making sure that the organisation operates within the law

5. Making sure that the board can handle its responsibilities effectively

The causes of most failures by those NGOs that due fail are related to poor governance and management. Spending some time going through the web pages of Mango's Guide of Financial Management for NGOs is definitely well worth the effort.

Mango's Guide of Financial Management for NGOs


Thursday, October 12, 2006

THE eGRANARY DIGITAL LIBRARY : “Storing The Seeds Of Knowledge”

The eGranary Digital Library provides millions of digital educational resources to institutions lacking adequate Internet access. Through a process of garnering permissions, copying Web sites, and delivering them to intranet Web servers INSIDE our partner institutions in developing countries, we deliver millions of multimedia documents that can be instantly accessed by patrons over their local area networks at no cost.”

Their “partners are looking for training and consulting in low-cost methods to digitize their materials to share with colleagues at other African universities. We are looking for volunteers and funding to help build the human capacity to work with the digitized materials in the eGranary Digital Library and help make them more relevant and useful on subscriber campuses.”


The eGranary Digital Library’s web site states:

“Most schools in developing countries do not have an Internet connection; and where an Internet connection does exist, it is slow, unreliable and very expensive. The WiderNet Project’s eGranary Digital Library delivers digital information directly to Web servers inside institutions, bypassing the Internet. More than 3-million educational documents are currently delivered to more than 100 institutions in Africa and other undeveloped areas in the world giving at least 300,000 students and professors access to information over their local area networks (LAN) quickly and at no cost. The eGranary Digital Library regularly adds new content that is provided by authors and publishers all over the world who want to enhance the educational opportunities for developing countries.”

Here's how they do it...

1. They identify Web sites with rich educational content

2. They secure the author's or publisher's permission to copy their materials

3. They copy the permitted materials to a hard drive at the University of Iowa's WiderNet Project

4. They make copies of the collection and distribute to subscriber universities

5. And they update and redistribute hard drives as time and travel schedules permit

Of course there is more to it than this, but if you visit their web site, you can get more specific details.

SOME NUMBERS - The eGranary Digital Library has

93 Subscribers

330 Authors

328 Publishers

214 Whole or Partial Web Sites

764 Articles, Books, Pages, and Reports

Over 2.7 million Total Items

The eGranary Digital Library acknowledges the following sponsors:
HyperTox, World Book, RedHat. Microsoft, Supercourse, University of Iowa Foundation, USAID, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and TheJohn D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The eGranary Digital Library

Sunday, October 01, 2006


In her critical opinion piece in the online magazine: Art'ishake Canadian activist Danielle Goldfinger examines "Development Pornography" - the use by NGOs of shocking, graphic images of people (usually in the global South) in conditions of dire poverty in order to prompt donations from the general public.

While Goldfinger argues that these efforts are "well intentioned" they have "disastrous consequences." In her opinion piece, Ms. Goldfinger sets out to "illustrate the consequences of development pornography," identify "new trends in ethical marketing" and illustrate "what more can be done to ensure that NGOS use responsible communication plans to access funding."

She goes on to discuss how development pornography, among other things, creates and solidifies stereotypes, dehumanizes those individuals depicted in the images as well as those whom the images are meant to represent and how it masks the root causes of poverty.

In her writing, Ms. Goldfinger brings to the fore the debate within the development community over the ethics of using development pornography in marketing and the reforms that have been suggested as a result of that debate. She recommends that NGOs should get involved in advocating for justice rather than just sending funds to poverty stricken countries. Ms. Goldfinger points out that NGO should make the public aware of the connection between poverty and unfair trade laws and overburdensom debt arrangements.

Ms. Goldfinger also advocates for a "Code of Ethics" among NGOs that will bring a greater degree of transparency to NGO fundraising and inform the public of the source and use of funds collected.

Ms Goldfinger's editorial "Development Pornography: Images of the Global South" can be found in PDF format at the following link:

It is on page 4 of the Spring 2006 issue of Art'ishake .