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TNGO Updates

Recent happenings from the TNGO Initiative

'Syracuse University can help nonprofits make leadership leap' - an op-ed piece by Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken, co-director of TNGO

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Syracuse University can help nonprofits make 'leadership leap'

An op-ed piece written by Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken, co-director of the Transnational NGO Initiative, was recently published in the Post-Standard. The piece, entitled "Syracuse University can help nonprofits make 'leadership leap'," argues that as many experienced, high-level nonprofit heads retire in the coming years, their successors might have difficulty making the leap to the top level of responsibility, something Maxwell's Transnational NGO Leadership Institute hopes to help remedy.

Article on Transnational NGO Accountability Forthcoming in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly

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"Accountability of Transnational NGOs: Aspirations vs. Practice" co-authored by TNGO Initiative researchers Hans Peter Schmitz, Paloma Raggo, and Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken is forthcoming in Nonproft and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Here is the abstract:

 

 "NGOs working across borders face increased accountability demands. While many have proposed ways of changing accountability practices, the debate is rarely informed by leaders’ perspectives of how accountability is perceived and practiced across different organizational settings. In interviews with NGO leaders we find aspirations to make accountability more meaningful and integrated, in particular by listening more to stakeholders other than donors. But these aspirations are rarely put in practice and leaders continue to highlight traditional means such as financial accounting. This gap is particularly pronounced for smaller organizations and reflects an increasingly competitive environment shaped by rating agencies and a focus on financial metrics. In order to move from aspirations to practice, NGOs have to be willing to share more meaningful information about their work and outcomes with stakeholders. Practicing transparency that empowers beneficiaries is central to effective organizational learning and balancing demands from different stakeholders." 

First issue of TNGO Initiative Practioner Brief Series

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TNGO Initiative is pleased to launch its Practioner Brief Series with the first issue Defining Organizational Effectiveness by George Mitchell, a Research Fellow. More practioner briefs, based on published data, will be forthcoming in the future.

Important filing deadlines for Certificate of Advanced Studies in Civil Society Organizations

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*IMPORTANT*

 

For students who are planning to graduate this academic year (December 2011 and May 2012 degree candidates), please take a moment to review the section of the Graduate School website on planning for graduation with notable changes made to filing deadlines for programs of study.  Be sure to submit your Porgram of Study for Certificate of Advanced Studies in Civil Society Organizations on time.

NGOs lobbying International Organizations - blog post by the Humanitarian and International Development NGOs domain at the Hauser Center

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Below is an article from the blog hosted by the Humanitarian and International Development NGOs domain at the Hauser Center on Nonprofits at Harvard University.


NGOs lobbying International Organizations: How to set agendas effectively

Posted: 13 Nov 2011 02:16 PM PST
By Rahul Daswani
The reason there are 9 “Major Groups” of stakeholders as part of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development is because these groups are the ones who are pushy and vocal.
Felix Dodds (Executive Director of Stakeholder Forum), shared his tips during a talk at the Harvard Kennedy School on November 10 2011: “By getting involved early, you can have a huge impact on influencing the policy agenda”.
Even when governments are not ready to engage and we want to keep up momentum, there are lots of ways conversations can be kept moving – from coffee chats in capital corridors to more formal discussion with officials on their priorities, constant engagement leads to a strong trust-based bond.
Naturally, the desire to get involved early must be complemented with enough substance in order to get the attention of international organizations. Some ways to do that include a) writing background papers – promoting ideas, workshops, information leading up to a major event b) providing policy recommendations for instance on how to reshape financial markets (indices, governance, incentives, state owned investment vehicles) c) building alliances with key players in industry, for instance on the issue of corporate accountability for sustainability.
While this makes sense as a broad strategy, an audience member raised a question that is likely to be an obstacle to actionable progress: How do we make sure governments collaborate, agree, and execute?
Dodds suggested that the main way had to be by instituting review mechanisms that reward delivery. “NGOs play a role in holding accountability: we have done that very badly over the years – one of the missing links is parliaments. Parliaments could be part of as an annual review mechanism. There is no reason why parliaments can’t hold the executive branch of the government accountable.”
Another useful question was understanding whether this process is replicable outside the sustainable development arena (e.g. health, human rights, etc). Dodds was unambiguous in his response – Yes. In the fields of HIV/Aids and human rights, NGOs had demonstrated that they could set the agenda.
One of the things that Dodds wants to see is more UN summits taking place away from New York. It would be particularly important to have the 2015 MDG Summit hosted by a developing country. “Once we have a pooled expertise, then we get to have a more coherent input to the process”. This winds back to his earlier point – the beginning is the most important bit – if you get things right in agenda setting, governments trust you since you’ve been working with them over a period of time, so they take your ideas.
In my own experience setting up the Office of Climate Change and Development for the Government of Papua New Guinea, I found a lot of these principles to be valid. We appreciated the expertise of NGOs understanding how to get things done on the ground, and by engaging them early, developed a comprehensive, prioritized set of stakeholder interactions in different formats for various provinces. Furthermore, the indigenous people we spoke to felt much more comfortable pursuing ambitious initiatives knowing that NGOs, international organizations and the government together agreed that it was the best course of action.
Rahul Daswani is a pursuing a Masters in Public Policy Degree at the Harvard Kennedy School.