The Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) and GuideStar International (GSI) are in the process of establishing a strategic partnership that will grow the functionality and value of the current Prodder NGO Directory.
The Prodder/GuideStar NGO Directory Project will utilise the existing Prodder NGO Directory to create a searchable database of profiles and reports on individual NGOs in South Africa. The service will be inclusive, publicly accessible and non-evaluative. It is anticipated that reports will be assembled from government filings, information submitted directly by NGOs and, potentially, third party data sources.
The service will promote transparency in the NGO sector by assembling and displaying various reports on individual NGOs. Those who would like to donate to, contract or partner with NGOs can conduct preliminary research on suitable candidate NGOs. They will have access to a record of activities and be in a position to measure accountability through access to organisational reports via the Prodder/GuideStar NGO Directory.
The new directory will also be an important tool for those keen to network in the sector or conduct research on NGOs.
Supporting SANGONeT’s mission to strengthen the capacity of NGOs to find long-term and sustainable solutions in response to Southern Africa’s development problems, the Prodder/GuideStar Project will work towards the following strategic objectives:
- Make South African NGOs more visible, accountable and effective;
- Enable more confident and effective philanthropy;
- Promote a vibrant and well-governed civil society.
A six-month pilot project, which began in January 2009, will develop the systems, operating strategies, underlying data, sector-engagement protocols and other attributes necessary for a successful public launch of the service.
The partnership brings together SANGONeT, which has supported the NGO sector in Southern Africa with information and ICT services since 1987, and GuideStar International, a London-based charity that is building similar systems in 11 countries.
The formation of the SANGONeT/GuideStar International partnership takes place against the backdrop of a severe global economic crisis that has far-reaching implications for NGOs in developing countries such as South Africa. However, the added features in the Prodder/GuideStar Directory will be useful tools for organisations that are pro-active with their fundraising and accountability reporting. NGOs that are making an impact in communities and contributing positively to the development agenda will benefit from the added directory features, as project and organisational reports will become part of the directory listings.
The Prodder/GuideStar project is introduced at a time when increased and affordable Internet access for South Africans is finally becoming a reality. This is great news for SANGONeT as it assists our aim of promoting the use of ICTs for development. For Prodder/GuideStar it means that more organisations will be in a position to voluntarily upload information to the directory and benefit from the social networking tools that will be linked to it.
The Prodder/GuideStar NGO Directory Project will be closely aligned with SANGONeT’s other South African civil society information activities, including the NGO Pulse Portal .
Key features of the proposed new NGO Directory will include:
Easy-to-use online reporting interface - will allow NGOs in South Africa to participate by inputting details on their mission, objectives, programmes and finances; as well as by uploading additional documents, etc. to enhance their display pages.
Powerful Internal Search Engine - to deliver intelligent results, with a customisable algorithm.
Optimised for Internet Search Engines - NGO report pages will perform well with Internet search engines, critical for delivering a successful service.
Mobile Interface - low bandwidth version for mobile devices, enabling users to receive the information they need on the run.
Site and Profile Analytics - an impact report on how the site and NGOs profile is performing.
Charting (Graphical Depiction of Data) - financial data will be shown in graphical format to provide a comprehensive breakdown of NGOs’ finances.
Visually Impaired Interface - non-graphical, low bandwidth version to accommodate the visually impaired and low bandwidth connections.
Application Programme Interface - to allow information to be leveraged by additional service providers in the sector.
The project will be introduced through a series of focus group discussions and dialogues hosted by SANGONeT and GuideStar International in Durban, Cape and Johannesburg in March 2009.
SANGONeT invites South African NGOs and Prodder Directory stakeholders to participate in shaping the future of the directory by completing the Prodder Online Survey by 6 March 2009.
Results from the survey will assist SANGONeT in identifying NGOs’ information requirements, as well as in developing new features and search functions for Prodder.
Any questions regarding the Prodder/GuideStar NGO Directory Project, or the services of SANGONeT and GuideStar International, should be addressed to Aadila Molale at SANGONeT or Caroline Neligan at GuideStar International.