#NGODigitalSpaces, NGOs and social media

#NGODigitalSpaces workshops in South Africa taught people in the non-profit sector about using social media to gain the trust of potential donors and supporters. By using the .ngo domain, donors will know that the organisation has been verified.

ngo social media jeri curry
Jeri Curry, Enset CEO, says the non-profit provider is using the #NGODigitalSpaces workshops to teach people in the non-profit sector how they can use digital platforms to gain the trust of potential donors and supporters. (Image: YouTube, Enset.ngo)

Melissa Javan
Several workshops, called #NGODigitalSpaces, were held in South Africa this month to teach people in the non-profit sector about why they should use social media to gain the trust of supporters and donors.

Around the world, there are low levels of public trust and individual and institutional donors, both internationally and locally, want more information and reassurances about how funds are used. Social media, the workshops posited, could help to build this trust.

What is #NGODigitalSpaces?

The #NGODigitalSpaces workshops are hosted by Enset, a non-profit provider. It was set up in 2015 to understand and address the digital needs of global non- profits and to help improve the online effectiveness of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through education, training and the use of the .ngo domain.

Other stakeholders at the #NGODigitalSpaces workshops included international alliance Civicus, the grassroots grantmaker Global Fund for Community Foundations, the freedom of expression and access to information movement Right2Know, and the non-governmental organisation Corruption Watch South Africa.

The aim of the workshops

Jeri Curry, Enset CEO, said the goal in hosting #NGODigitalSpaces was to bring together civil society to discuss how the .ngo domain, digital efforts and the internet could be used to amplify the voice of a non-profit.

Discussions were to help NPOs increase their reach, advance their mission and drive solidarity within the civil society sector for NGOs.

“We believe that the internet needs to be open and accessible and that non- profits need to have their ‘digital house in order’ to effectively use the power of the internet for their non-profit,” said Curry.

Watch Jeri Curry talk about how people in the non-profit sector can use their voice:

The Enset events were held this year in San Paolo, Brazil; Nairobi, Kenya; Bogota, Colombia; and Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. “We are also planning to be part of the Digital Forum at the upcoming IFC (International Fundraising Congress) event hosted by the Resource Alliance in the Netherlands on 20 October,” said Curry.

“We work with local partners in each location to reach non-profit organisations in the community to invite them to the events.”

Watch Zawadi Nyong’o, a Kenyan social media expert, explain why social media should be used by non-profit organisations:

The South African workshops

#NGODigitalSpaces were held in the Western Cape and Gauteng, the last one on 7 October 2016 in Johannesburg. Curry said there were many local organisations represented, ranging in size from small community-based to large international NGOs.”

There were about 40 people who joined the conversation we held in partnership with Civicus in Johannesburg, 60 who attended the Cape Town Woodstock Enset and 50 who participated in the Bandwidth Barn Khayelitsha digital workshop attended primarily by local community-based non-profits,” she explained.

Participants shared their thoughts on Twitter:

Legitimacy through social media

Curry said that around the world, non-profit sectors were confronted with low levels of public trust. “At the same time, in many countries the space for civic engagement is also shrinking, with increased scrutiny from both individual and institutional donors and regulatory policies that are constantly changing.”

Now more than ever, both international and local funders want more information and reassurance as to how funds are used, where they are allocated and the kinds of impacts they are having on the ground,” she said.”As NGOs start to use .ngo there is a movement of solidarity within the sector to protect the civil society digital space.”

She believes this is why NPOs should get their digital house in order. “Legitimacy for NGOs is incredibly important for both the stakeholders they serve and for their donors,” she explained.”

Donors want to donate to organisations that are transparent and legitimate and by utilising the .ngo domain, donors will know that your organisation has been verified… Credibility with donors and stakeholders is important as the work that NGOs do is serving a community and trust is key to establishing a relationship with that community.”

The future

Enset planned to hold four to five sessions globally next year, said Curry. “We are working on the possibility of a virtual event so we can expand our reach and support more NGOs, particularly those in the global south and developing countries.

“We are fortunate to have partnerships with many in civil society who have helped us in creating both the content and platforms for the events. As of now we are looking at bringing #NGODigitalSpaces to London, the United Kingdom, the Asia Pacific Region, Latin America, Bangkok, Thailand, and India in 2017.”

She added: “We will also be returning to South Africa and Kenya to host future events.”

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