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NGOs Facing Challenges and Opportunities

  • The controversy around the proposed amendments to the Himachal Pradesh. Public Benefits Organisations Act revealed poor public understanding of the functions of non-profit and non-governmental sectors in H.P. It also highlighted the continued mistrust of civil society. And other organizations due to a perceived lack of transparency. Both these issues show the need for more robust communications. That they clearly convey impact while building the credibility of the PBO sector.

    Unfortunately, local NGOs in Mandi Himachal Pradesh and civil society organizations often lack the time, know-how, and/or resources to properly communicate the meaningful contributions they are making to society. Even among those working with the media. Only a minority boast comprehensive communications strategies (of which media relations is just one aspect!). This site is about helping PBOs bridge the information gap. In offering a mix of curated content, news, and original commentary on emerging trends and issues, the intention is to stir discussion and inspire knowledge-sharing and learning.

    Summary of Challenges and Opportunities facing NGOs and the NGO Sector

    The Challenges and Opportunities listed below were generated from 5 of the first 11 regionals. NGO workshops; this exercise was not undertaken in Kangra, Mandi, and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh due to time constraints. Lack of Funds NGOs is expressing difficulty in finding sufficient, appropriate, and continuous funding for their work. They find accessing donors as challenging as dealing with their funding conditions. They perceive there to be certain cartels of individuals and NGOs in Kangra, Himachal Pradesh that control access to donor funds. NGOs have limited resource mobilization skills and are often not looking for funds that are available locally, preferring to wait for international donors to approach
    them.

    There is a high dependency on donors and a tendency to shift interventions to match donor priorities. There is a lack of financial, project, and organizational sustainability. Poor Governance was recognized within the sector as a whole, within the NGO Council, and within individual NGOs in Kangra, Mandi, and Shimla Himachal Pradesh. Knowledge of good governance varied widely, with some regions indicating very little understanding of why NGOs are required to have Boarded or what their roles and functions should be. Many other participants explained that it is difficult to achieve good governance with founders who wished to own their NGOs for their own purposes.

    Participants with a better understanding of good governance appreciated that this is fundamental to NGO accountability and transparency. Many NGOs in Himachal Pradesh mismanage their resources, quite often with the involvement and encouragement of their Boards that eat their Ngo's resources. Finding Board members can be difficult if you are not willing to pay them or provide allowances.

    Absence of Strategic Planning

    Few NGOs have strategic plans which would enable them to have ownership over their mission, values, and activities. This leaves them vulnerable to the whims of donors and makes it difficult to measure their impact over time. Poor Networking was identified as a major challenge. It is the cause of duplication of efforts, conflicting strategies at the community level, a lack of learning from experience, and an inability of Himachal Pradesh NGOs to address local Mandi, Kangra, Chamba, Kullu, and Shimla structural causes of poverty, deprivation, and under-development. Negative competition for resources also undermines the reputation of the sector. And the effectiveness of NGO activities at the community level. As the result, there is a great deal of suspicion among NGOs, secrecy, and lack of transparency. Many NGOs, large and small, intervene at the community level without any community mapping and implement projects without due regard.

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