Once in Mumbai we started be selecting specific children’s related charities that we hoped to work with. We carefully chose this set from those that were already listed on Give’s site because: (1) we could be assured that they had already met and were continuing to meet Give’s demanding criteria; and (2) they would be open to working with us. It was even more important because given the one-year time frame, and the six-month period in which we hoped to have a pilot group ready to take to donors. With such a tight time frame for the pilot group, we really benefited from Give already having many of the documents we needed to review for our diligence and could build on Give’s relationship to ensure an easier time completing any additional diligence.
Once we identified potential pilot partner NGOs, we drafted an explanatory email and a document explaining the goals of the reporting and learning framework to go with the prospectus. With this package of documents, we began to solicit partners for the Initiative. (Attached is the sample template we used to solicit NGOs through email and the document summarizing the goals of the framework.)
We were surprised by the overwhelming interest as a great number – to date (a week after sending the initial emails) approximately 60% of NGOs expressed great interest in the Initiative (and even one that heard about it through another NGO). What is even more exciting is that we demanded that the boards of the NGOs that wished to participate discuss the Initiative, approve participation, and be willing to participate. All of the participant NGOs had done so and many were ready for their entire boards to participate in the workshops.
Another pleasant surprise was that the NGOs really seemed to understand that the real carrot in this process was not the money they could hopefully see, but the more dynamic and engaged relationship that they could have with their beneficiaries and donors. Whether this is true or just some clever chicanery, we’ll have to see. But it would surprise me if it wasn't true.
On the other hand there does seem to be a lot of attention to “revenue generation” and concern with financial accountability. One of the interesting things about NGOs operating in
Nevertheless, I think it is probably this experience that explains why so many understand transparency and why they should be accountable and responsible to their beneficiaries. (Of course, our pilot group is comprised of Give listed organizations – and therefore – already have to be transparent with information. But there seems to be a deeper understanding of why that could be helpful.)
There also seems to be an increasing recognition that accountability means more than financial accountability. What we are not sure of yet is how deep this understanding is. Groups like Give and CRY recognize the need for accountability to be more than financial and for it to capture effectiveness, and CRY is leading an initiative to try to educate and train auditors as to how to evaluate NGOs and how that is unique from corporate auditing. I know that CRY and Give had previously discussed other plans to make such a program national, but I don’t believe that it has taken off yet. Hopefully, we can contribute to that movement through our work with the CMI.