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[afro-nets] Is the NGO good or bad? Who knows? (9)

Is the NGO good or bad? Who knows? (9)

Dear Colleagues

As you know by now, I believe that the issue of sorting out good
NGOs from bad NGOs is critical to getting more funding for NGOs.
I have been getting a lot of private mail that is quite negative
about this, and especially the idea of a Tr-Ac-Net "rating" sys-
tem. But also some encouragement and guidance.

Many of the feedback messages have convinced me more than ever
that the Tr-Ac-Net Rating could be enormously valuable.

One writer explained that there are a huge number of small NGOs
that do some wonderful work and then fail because they have run
out of (personal) funding and the people involved have got to
find something to feed the family and pay the bills. But the im-
portant point was these little initiatives were doing hugely
good work with almost no resources. Now that I think deserves a
high rating.

What Tr-Ac-Net is proposing is simply that these good little
initiatives should be "on the record" and have a decent rating,
and that there should be a way of getting (modest) funding to
them so that they can keep going.

A couple of years ago, I was part of a team (mainly African)
trying to get a modest project approved by USAID. USAID said:
There was no money. This part of the proposal was wrong. Some-
thing else was wrong. A run around! In the end we did not get
anything. However, just days before the end of the fiscal year a
well known big international NGO was awarded a contract for US$
50 million to do almost the same thing! So much for the no money
argument! We thought we might be able to serve in a sub-contact
mode to the big NGO... so we called them up. We were told that
we should call back in 6 months time when they would have de-
signed their project, and have decided where in Africa they
would be working. That NGO, based on that experience, gets a
pretty low Tr-Ac-Net Rating.

The Tr-Ac-Net Rating methodology goes a long way beyond just a
collection of "opinion". But it does not exclude opinion com-
pletely. The Tr-Ac-Net methodology also involves tracking fund
flows! The small NGO usually can do that with very little of the
money unaccounted for. Not so true for many of the big NGOs. The
methodology also involves assessing the socio-economic impact...
something a small good CBO will usually have no difficulty with,
but maybe more difficult for the big international NGO and many
of the official relief and development assistance (ORDA) pro-

One of my favourite projects is in Kenya. A few grandmas (maybe
20) in Kenya are looking after about 400 orphans in a village
setting... funded by a few people in the USA. Modest money.
Enormous value.

But there are thousands of unfunded good projects... many being
done by people who are illiterate, but (in my view) not unedu-

The Tr-Ac-Net initiative should help get more money into places
where it will do the most good. As some of my messages suggest,
however, there are a lot of people who prefer the status quo to
a more effective relief and development modality.

Peter Burgess

CCSD Foundation / C-WISP / Tr-Ac-Net in New York
Tel: +1-212 772 6918

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