Takeaways from InterAction Forum 2014

On driving change, how do we make a difference? This was a common question and overarching theme of this year’s forum in Washington, DC. The answer? At a very basic level, collaboration, collaboration, and more collaboration – between NGOs, local partners, governments, and businesses – is critical! More specifically:

  • There needs to be a balance between causes and consequences in order to achieve capacity building.
  • Youth should be involved with problem planning and implementation.
  • Redefine the purpose of business so that business becomes the driver for social and environmental change – we need global collective action!

For NGOs, strategic partnerships play a critical role in community capacity development; therefore, it’s important to be aware of the opportunities and challenges that may be associated with them. For example:

  • The dynamic between NGOs and universities has changed; there is greater emphasis and monitoring of impact evaluations, which means that measurement is more rigorous than ever before AND there is greater opportunity to produce effective results.
  • Institutionalized culture can be very different than the NGO culture:
    • Scheduling
    • Slowness of business office processes
      • Schools tend to be subject to more rules than NGOs and think long term as opposed to short term.
      • NGOs tend to be more time sensitive and want to act ASAP.
  • When it comes to small-medium sized NGOs, companies are narrowing down the causes they support and contributing in a big way.
    • There must be alignment around initiatives, goals and measurement.
    • Innovation reduces the administrative costs for NGOs.

The idea of sectors is not in millennials’ DNA. They seek to fix social problems that reflect their core values. So, how do we get them involved in this conversation?

  • We need a shift in ideology.
    • Ecosystem levels
    • Strategize by working backwards
    • Bridge the gaps between silos of excellence
    • Scale impact
    • Restructure markets
  • We need creative forms of capital that are aligned with social change.
  • We need a universal and cohesive agenda that holds everyone accountable
  • We need common goals and common definitions in terms of results to effectively measure impact.

And how will we be able to measure impact? For starters, InterAction has officially launched it’s global NGO Aid Map, which illustrates the efforts of NGOs and development actors through data sharing and geo code. Did you know that InterAction’s members work in more than 200 countries in various sectors? Check out the map below:

NGO Map

Sam Worthington, CEO of InterAction, says that this map will ultimately deepen and broaden efforts by NGOs and help them work more effectively and efficiently so that they aren’t duplicating efforts. It will not only show locations where work and development is being completed, it will also indicate at what scale. Donors can see where there money is going, no matter which sector or region they are donating to.

It was a pleasure for our team to be able to participate in this year’s InterAction Forum, and we are encouraged by the enthusiasm and eagerness to invest in strategic collaborative partnerships that will help shape the future of the NGO community and greater world.