Why does the Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF) want this information and how will it be used?
UNNGOF is creating an online (Internet) directory of NGOs in Uganda. This will show the size and contribution of the NGO sector as a whole, while at the same time profiling, and raising the visibility of, individual organisations.
Aren’t there already several lists and directories of this kind?
This will not just be a list of contact addresses. It will include meaningful descriptions of individual NGOs, with real insight into the work they do. It will also be a long-lasting and regularly updated, resource. UNGOFF expects that, from a couple of hundred entries by the end of this year, the directory will grow to around 1,000 entries by the end of 2011. This will be unique in Uganda. In fact, it will unique in Africa.
What is the point of an on-line directory? What good will it be to us?
The directory will have several uses. NGOs can use it to learn about and from each other—for example, to get a better picture of how other, similar groups work on similar issues. Researchers and journalists can use it to find organisations that work in areas or specialise in issues that they are investigating. Government staff in various departments can use it both to see where NGOs are making contributions, and to include relevant NGOs in ‘stakeholder consultations’ etc. People looking for social work volunteer or internship opportunities with NGOs can use it to identify and approach groups they feel attracted to. Donor agencies—including international organisations but also international and Ugandan private individuals and companies who want to support sustainable development—can use it to identify potential grant recipients. Once formally launched, it will include listings of job, training and study opportunities, and other things of interest to NGOs.
Will NGOs be charged for being included, or users charged for accessing information?
NO. This is an entirely free service. Start-up costs are covered by grants that UNNGOF has received. In future, the site will be sustained by income from advertising opportunities and services that are of special interest to NGO staff. This will cover the wage of one person responsible for updating and continuously expanding the directory.
Can NGOs present their work in their own way?
YES! Along with the basic information we are asking for, we want NGOs to submit their own descriptions of their organisations (up to a maximum of 500 words), outlining their area and style of work and drawing attention to what they feel to be most important—such as their values, aims and major achievements.
Why do you also want to know details of our registration, finance and staffing?
These are “vital statistics” that give a real picture of an NGO’s situation. But this is not a “beauty contest” that will privilege the bigger, “rich” NGOs. There are all kinds and sizes of organisation in the NGO community, and UNNGOF respects this diversity. Often it is smaller, community based organisations that researchers, donors and potential partners want to learn about. The bigger NGOs have their own resources for communication and publicity. The Directory will give equal space to small groups that do not enjoy such opportunities.
Also, requiring this information is a practical way of “sorting the sheep from the goats”—that is, excluding “briefcase NGOs”. The directory will include only NGOs that are serious, honest and committed enough to go public with this information. The fact they are willing to do so will itself show readers that they are serious and honest. And this will add to the credibility and reputation of the NGO sector as a whole.