International Nonprofits: Challenges and Resources

In 2011, I conducted the International Nonprofit Organisations Affinity Group at the 2011 Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, DC (Mar 2011). For my first #11NTC, I was genuinely interested in finding out what many NFPs wanted to learn about. That time, the 80+ attendees wanted to talk about managing virtual teams, cultural adaptation, translation issues, developing global partnerships, scalability, and managing issues-based causes (e.g., crisis management in different countries).

This year, when I was invited to do the International Nonprofit Organisations “Birds of a Feather” networking session at the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference in San Francisco, California (Apr 2012), I wanted to see if the same issues would arise during our group discussions. The 50+ attendees this year discussed the following topics:

  • Culture & Technology / Global Fundraising / Transparency & Open Data
  • Platforms for Communication
  • Impact Measurement
  • Global Advocacy

Even though there were less participants this year, there were actually a few more discussions that led to fruitful sharing between the delegates. The notes from the discussion groups may be found in this #12NTCIntNPO document.

Some of the main takeaways from the International Nonprofit discussions include:


1. There is a huge interest in communication platforms. With several organisations operating with virtual teams and separate locations, finding out the most effective ways to share, collaborate, and communicate with team members and stakeholders is top on the list. This goes for both online and offline solutions. Some of the resources that were recommended include:

  • Microsoft 2012
  • Google apps (Docs, email, chat, etc)
  • Skype
  • Facebook groups
  • Office 365
  • Basecamp

2. Measurement has become increasingly important for stakeholders. Therefore, organisations need to find different ways to show impact. Metrics need to align with overall organisational goals and there should be high levels of transparency with reporting, especially for donors. Qualitative data collection, including storytelling, plays a part on showing impact. Some suggested ideas in the topic of impact measurement include:

  • Education without Borders (based in Canada) works with communities in South Africa. And, according to some of the session participants, they publish “failure reports” that can be useful models and sources of learning for other nonprofit organisations.
  • Global Giving Stories has a database of searchable stories that would be an interesting resource when it comes to qualitative data/storytelling.

3. Global advocacy efforts are challenging when it comes to finding the right access to the right people. Many of the session participants were wondering about international databases. This challenge may be overcome by finding partnerships within countries and regions that people wish to work with. Some of the suggested resources include:

On developing a global nonprofit practitioners communities of practice

With many nonprofit organisations working across different countries and cultures nowadays, a few of the delegates reached out and said that it looks like there is a need for a “international nonprofit practitioners communities of practice”. Organisations that offer services to other nonprofits worldwide (like TechSoup Global and its partners*) would be the best place to provide a platform for such communities.

If you’re from a nonprofit with an international reach, I’m curious to know what would you like to learn more about? Is there something you can share with others in the same field?

My slide deck from #12NTCIntNPO and #12NTC Storify summary

Although I didn’t do any full presentations for the session, I did put together a small slide deck for this event. So, if you’re interested, here’s the deck from #12NTC:

Also, if you’re keen to see an overview of my #12NTC experience, I’ve shared this on my Storify account, Shai’s #12NTC Summary.

Photo by: Ben Teoh

*Note: The organisation I work for, Connecting Up, is a TechSoup partner.

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Categories: Community, Highlights | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “International Nonprofits: Challenges and Resources

  1. Pingback: Studio Notes by Shai Coggins » #12NTC Highlights from San Francisco

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