Getting the Word Out

Surprisingly, the hardest thing about running a nonprofit is not to come up with strategy, to work efficiently with partners, to make “executive” decisions with my co-director, to deal with the daily administrative chores… No, the hardest part is to get people to be interested in what you’re doing.
Obviously, to me, anyone who doesn’t think that The Niapele Project is a cool organization that deserves to be supported is clearly a misguided individual. But there are SO many organizations out there – some doing fabulous work (Doctors Without Borders), and others ruining international NGOs reputations (Zoe’s Ark – a real life horror story about humanitarianism gone wrong: BBC Profile on Zoe’s Ark.)

Not only that, but for a novice to the world of NGOs, it’s hard to differentiate between organizations, to decide if you want to support, and which one, which KIND of organization you should support, depending on your sensibility….

There are at least two major categories of nonprofits out there, and perhaps this nomenclature will be helpful to some of you, in order to navigate the complicated world of charity work:

– International NGOs (non-governmental organizations): Within this category, you find orgs. such as The Niapele Project (tiny) and Doctors Without Borders (huge). Their missions vary – humanitarianism, development work, private-public partnerships…. the list goes on. One thing they all share: they operate independently from governments and States.

Well, at least in theory. Because a lot of INGOs receive funding from governments and are thus subject to certain guidelines and standards. Furthermore, when an INGO has a high profile (ie. Save the Children), it can’t always say or do what it wants – their public funding does not come with no strings attached.

In any case, a lot of people around the world support this type of organization with private contributions (depending on the country you live in, these contributions may or may not be tax deductible), and these organizations work really contribute to alleviating suffering, poverty, disease, etc….. It seems to me that there is an NGO out there for everyone’s sensibility, and, as the notion of global consciousness is taking root, it’s our duty to share some of our privileges with those less fortunate.

Oh sure, I sound patronizing, don’t I?

I know these words can sound very hollow – but seriously, there are thousands of NGOs out there, doing work ranging from helping unemployed mothers in your neighborhood start a business to feeding the downtrodden in far flung corners of the earth – there really is something for everyone to support.

People always complain that their taxes never contribute to ameliorating anything – well why not pay less taxes, and choose where you want that money to go? For example, towards a cause that you feel strongly about?

Also, the vitality of NGOs contribute to the overall strength of civil society – which is the bedrock of functioning democracies. Also, interestingly, consider that international NGOs, which garner support from around the world, are helping the “global consciousness” we always hear about become a reality – no longer just a hazy concept, “global consciousness” relates to the notion that we are all part of the same human family, and that, as such, there are transnational issues that transcend particular interests (perfect example: climate change)

Anyway, I’ll post about the other category of nonprofits tomorrow – I’m trying not to bore you too much, faithful readers (Hi Mom)

Check out what Bill Clinton has to say about YouTube NonProfit Initiative:

One thought on “Getting the Word Out

  1. I like this post! Very well said! I agree that finding people to get interested is definitely a challenge. I wish people like you and me could make our enthusiasm for these types of issues contagious to those around us. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way and it can be all too easy to get disheartened by the lack of interest others may show. Guess we just have to keep plugging along and do what we know in our hearts is right! Nice YouTube clip! I didn’t know about that!

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