Sunday, 10 June 2007

The web 2.0 revolution conquers European NGOs

Translated from the posting in italian by Paolo Ferrara, TDH Italy

Last week, I had the great opportunity to participate in a Web 2.0 seminar organised in Brussels by Concord and Euforic, two of the major NGO networks in Europe.

These were two magnificent days, both from a human as well as from a profesional perspective. They allowed me to pick up certain issues that we also try to promote here in Italy via this blog, and with the support of Francesco Santini (Nonprofitblog and Internet Fundraising), and of Daniele Fusi (the 2.0 inspiration for Lentatiblog). Two days that made me realise that we still have a gap to fill.

The most enriching meeting was with Steve Bridger, one of the founders of this blog, who did a very interesting presentation on Fundraising 2.0, that I have posted here. This presentation raised lots of issues; several of which require more analysis.

But first let me show you a video...

What is the relation between this report and Steve's presentation? Follow me and I'll tell you...

Let's take a close look at some main points of Steve's presentation:

  • the donors we are dealing with are changing, access to information is more important, donors show less loyalty and behave more like consumers and do not hesitate to ask. It is the donor who selects the issues - not the organisations - the donor wants to take part and stay informed about the impact of the aid (and of the time that it takes);
  • online donations are not the future. They are today's reality. Within 24 hours , between 30 and 31 December 2004, 5 million pounds were raised in the UK. In the years 2005 and 2006 together, Oxfam UK collected online 13 million pounds (including its Oxfam Unwrapped); the Darfur appeal launched by the British DEC on 24 May has already collected 3 million pounds; every year 30% of the regular donors of MSF UK give a significantly higher amount that normal;
  • The blogs and the self-made videos that tell human stories (like the previous report shows, including the emotional effect), are definitely the most interesting for the NGO world. And, like Seth Godin says: the best blogs generate conversations, and do not control them;
  • fundraising staff et social networks (facebook, myspace, linkedin and the bright new Bring light on which I will draft a post soon) represent the new frontiers where we have to find the volonteers that we need to be able to accompany, and encourage them to share, and be transformed into fundraisers;
  • being on blog 2.0 is not without risks. From those related to your organisations' reputation to those that concern the security of staff in dangerous areas… But one of the main risks is related to those who support us: are they ready for change? (see slide 75 from Steve… it contains a very interesting profile);
  • not everything can be calculated, but once the objectives are defined, we need to learn to define what can be.
It is particularly interesting to see that these trends are appearing in the whole world. Not just on the British Isles or in the United States with their technological focus. These trends appear in the whole of Europe, including in countries such as Greece. Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey, and even in India, Kenya or South Africa.

To assess the scale of Web 2.0 (and in a certain way also the distance that separates us from the rest of Europe), I believe it is useful to enhance our capacities to transfer knowledge (what the Anglo-Saxons call "Knowledge Management").

In three meeting rooms equipped with wifi and several laptops simultaniously online, surfing to the examples and experimenting with sharing as a "modus operandi", we could participate in three really great presentations.

Just take a look at what has been produced at this seminar, thanks to the skills of Joitske Hulsebosch (included her blog in the RSS), of Nancy White, and of the Euforic team (especially Pier Andrea Pirani, Birthe Paul and Martin Behrens) and of Concord (including several Italians which proves that also in the non-profit sector we have trouble to keep our best brains).

An official blog has been set up, well updated and including videos, testimonies, interviews, links and reports of what has happened in these three meeting rooms during two intensive working days. Check out the blog that makes an interesting use of RSS and contains an updated set of posts that were publised at the seminar in other blogs. Furthermore, it explains to you everything that was done and that I cannot entirely summarise in this post.

There is also a section on Slideshare, which gives you access to nearly all the presentations of the seminar, a set of contact details of several participants and other presentations related to the various topics.

A section on Flickr should not be missed with photos of the event, as well as a wiki, that allowed participants to start experimenting with shaping the content that was created by the users. The most interesting is that, thanks to this experimenting, someone was able to create his first blog (like our dear friend Dimitar from Bulgaria).

Resuming, Web 2.0 offers the possibility to develop very interesting novelties and, I cannot stop reminding this, to bring together a great number of very motivated people who, luckily, also have the chance to get to know each other.

And finally I would like to use this opportunity to greet Claudia (Romania), Camille (France), Genny (Greece), Dimitar (Bulgary), Chiara (from Italy but based in Brussels for TDH) and Anna, participants with whom I spent a pleasant evening around the Grand Place.

La révolution du web 2.0 conquiert les ONG européennes

Traduction de l'article en italien par Paolo Ferrara, TDH Italie

J'ai eu la semaine passée la grande opportunité de participer à un séminaire sur web 2.0 organisé à Bruxelles par Concord et par Euforic, deux des plus importants réseaux d'ONG en Europe.

Deux journées fantastiques, très belles tant d'un point de vue humain que professionnel, qui ont permis de reprendre certains thèmes que nous nous efforçons de diffuser aussi ici en Italie, à partir de ce blog, mais désormais aussi avec Francesco Santini (Nonprofitblog et Internet Fundraising) et avec Daniele Fusi (l'âme 2.0 de Lentatiblog). Deux journées qui m'ont aussi permis de prendre conscience que nous avons encore un gap à remplir.

La rencontre la plus enrichissante a été celle avec Steve Bridger, un des pères de ce blog, qui a illustré la très intéressante présentation sur le Fundraising 2.0, que j'ai publié dans le post précédent. Une intervention riche en thèmes, dont certains se doivent d’être approfondis.

Mais avant cela permettez-moi de vous montrer une vidéo...

Quel est le rapport entre ce reportage et la présentation de Steve? Suivez-moi et je vous le dirai...

Mais voyons de plus prêt certains points essentiels de la présentation de Steve:

  • le donateur que nous avons face à nous est en train de changer, l'accès à l'information est plus important, il est moins loyal, se comporte davantage comme un consommateur et n'hésite pas à demander. C'est un donateur qui choisit les causes, et non pas les organisations, et veut participer, être informé sur l'impact de son aide (et du temps qu'il y consacre);
  • les donations online ne sont pas le futur. Elles représentent le présent. En 24 heures, entre le 30 et le 31 décembre 2004, 5 millions de livres sterling ont été rassemblées au Royaume-Uni. Dans les deux ans 2005-2006, Oxfam UK a réuni online 13 millions de livres sterling (y compris son Oxfam Unwrapped); l'appel sur le Darfour lancé par le DEC anglais le 24 mai a récolté déjà 3 millions de livres sterling; chaque année 30% de donateurs réguliers de MSF UK versent online avec une donation moyenne nettement supérieure à celle traditionnelle;
  • certaines tendances sont communes à presque tous les pays. Les blogs et les vidéos autoproduites, avec leur capacité de raconter des histoires humaines (comme le démontre le reportage plus haut, et les émotions qui en dégagent), sont certainement les plus intéressantes pour le monde des ONG. Et, comme affirme, Seth Godin: les meilleurs blogs donnent naissance aux conversations, et ne les contrôlent pas;
  • le fundraising personnel et les network sociaux (facebook, myspace, linkedin et le tout nouveau Bring light auquel je dédierai bientôt un post) représentent les nouvelles frontières où nous devrons aller chercher les volontaires, que nous devront être capables d'accompagner, de rendre participatifs et de transformer en fundraiser;
  • se trouver sur blog 2.0 n'est pas sans risques. A partir de ceux relatifs à sa propre réputation, à ceux qui intéressent la sécurité de ses propres opérateurs dans des zones dangereuses… Mais un des risques majeurs est celui lié à ceux qui nous appuient: sont-ils prêts au changement? (lisez la slide 75 de Steve…elle contient un profil vraiment intéressant);
  • tout ne peut pas être calculé, mais une fois établis les objectifs, nous devons apprendre à mesurer ce qui peut l'être;

Ce qui est particulièrement intéressant est que ces tendances prennent désormais forme dans le monde entier. Non seulement dans la péninsule britannique si technologique ou aux Etats-Unis. Ces tendances parcourent toute l'Europe, y compris des pays comme la Grèce, la Roumanie, la Bulgarie et la Turquie, jusqu'à l'Inde, le Kenya ou l'Afrique du Sud.

Mais afin de voir en action la portée du web 2.0 (et d'une certaine façon aussi la distance qui nous sépare du reste de l'Europe), je crois qu'il est utile d'approfondir surtout la capacité de transférer des connaissances (ce que les anglo-saxons appellent "Knowledge Management").

Dans trois salles dotées d'un réseau wireless et de plusieurs ordinateurs portables en fonction au même instant, navigant sur les exemples proposés et expérimentant la condivision come "modus operandi", nous avons pu assister à des démonstrations véritablement grandioses.

Il suffit de donner un coup d'œil à ce qui a été produit durant le séminaire, grâce à la capacité de Joitske Hulsebosch (mettez son blog dans les RSS), de Nancy White, du team de Euforic (en particulier Pier Andrea Pirani, Birthe Paul et Martin Behrens) et de Concord (parmi lesquels plusieurs italiens, ce qui prouve comme aussi dans le non profit nous connaissons des difficultés à garder les meilleurs cerveaux).

Un blog officiel a été créé, très à jour, riche en vidéo, témoignages, entretiens, liens et compte-rendu sur ce tout ce qui a été fait dans les trois salles durant deux jours de travaux intenses. Donnez un coup d'œil au blog qui fait un usage très intéressant des RSS et contient un ensemble mis à jour de post publiés dans d'autres blogs sur le séminaire. En outre il vous racontera tout ce qui a été fait et que je ne saurais résumer entièrement dans un post.

Vous trouverez aussi une section sur Slideshare, d'où vous pourrez disposer de presque toutes les présentations du séminaire, une série de contacts avec les détails de certains participants et d'autres présentations liées aux thèmes traités.

Une section sur Flickr ne pouvait pas manquer, avec les photos de l'événement, ainsi qu'un wiki, grâce auquel les participants ont pu commencer à expérimenter comment prennent forme les contenus créés par les utilisateurs. Le plus intéressant est que, à force d'expérimenter, quelqu'un a créé son premier blog (comme le très cher Dimitar, brillant et très sympathique participant bulgare).

En conclusion, le Web 2.0 permet de développer des nouveautés très intéressantes et, comme je ne cesserai jamais de rappeler, réunit bon nombre de personnes très motivées qui, heureusement, ont aussi la chance de faire connaissance.

Avant de conclure, je profite du blog pour saluer Claudia (roumaine), Camille (française), Genny (grecque), Dimitar (bulgare), Chiara (italienne à Bruxelles pour Tdh) et Anna, participants avec lesquels j’ai passé une belle soirée dans les alentours de la Grande Place.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Learning a common language of development

In this interview in Italian, Paolo Ferrara (Terre des Hommes Italy) explains the main lessons he brings back home from the Euforic/Concord meeting.

In particular, Paolo took part in the sessions on fundraising, campaigning and advocacy. From the presentations, the group discussions, and different talks during the coffee-breaks, he identifies four main lessons he learned during these days in Brussels.

"First and foremost, when undertaking a campaign or an advocacy activity, you need to clearly formulate a strategy and the objectives you want to achieve. Further, you need to put in place coordination mechanisms among the different actors involved. Moreover, you need to identify specific targets, internal as well as external to your constituency. Last but not least, the most important lessons I take with me is how valuable events like this one are, in order to start talking a common language, sharing a common vision of the future and eventually working together in a more effective way".

If you read Italian, you can see more about Paolo's impressions on his blog.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Emergent information and knowledge management issues

Brussels, 6 June. During the open space session, Mike Powell explained the new IKM (Information Knowledge Management) Emergent Issues programme:

The programme has been developed over the past years by Mike and colleagues from the EADI information management working group. It recently received funding from the Dutch Development Ministry.

The programme has its root in a critical view on the current narrow use of knowledge in the sector. Information needs to be more available in formats people can use. It will hence look at content issues, format and languages of knowledge. How can a range of information be handled without drowning in materials?

The idea is that the programme will not provide answers - it will raise issues and illustrate problems and ideas for solving them. It's an open programme, engaging a wide range of actors (including artists) and it will work as much as possible through existing networks. Get further information about the IKM programme or visit:

Imparare a parlare di sviluppo usando un linguaggio comune

In questa intervista, Paolo Ferrara (Terre des Hommes Italia) spiega quali sono i principali insegnamenti che si porta a casa dal meeting organizzato da Euforic e Concord.

In particolare, Paolo ha partecipato alle sessioni su 'fundraising', 'campaigning' ed 'advocacy'. Dalle presentazioni, dalle discussioni in gruppo e da conversazioni informali durante i diversi coffe-break, sono quattro le lezioni principali imparate durante questi giorni a Bruxelles: su tutte, l'imporanza di incontri come questo per incominciare a parlare di sviluppo usando un linguaggio comune.

Per conoscere di più sulle impressioni di Paolo, potete consultare il suo blog.

Barriers to knowledge sharing in Africa

Talking about African knowledge consumers, François Stepman (FOMETRO) talks about the bias towards content produced in the north and argues that the Africans need to be much more self-confident about their products.

During the Africa-Europe knowledge exchange roundtable, he suggests that Africans are not consuming the information and knowledge produced on the continent for a lack of confidence in their own capacities to produce relevant content.

At the same time, sharing information and knowledge among peers is far from seen as a win-win situation. It often does not happen due to a "survival reflex." For many people in difficult situations, keeping information is still seen as the best way to compete.

FOCUSS your internet searches

Brussels, 6 June. During the open space, Richard Lalleman and Michel Wesseling presented their ongoing work to build a customised search engine for development information FOCUSS.

With the release of FOCUSS, a unique cooperative initiative has been established between 23 organisations in the development arena. Partners include: AllianceSud, ATOL, Bernard van Leer Foundation, Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), Euforic, ICCO, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Institut Universitaire d'Études du Développement (IUED), Royal Tropical Insitute (KIT), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), and the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA).

Focuss provides a content specific search engine in the area of global development studies. Other than generic search engines, it indexes on one hand electronic resources selected by librarians, researchers and practitioners working in participating institutions, and on the other hand the bookmarks of individual researchers, students and practitioners.

Recent research whereby people rated the results of Google and FOCUSS without knowing the source showed that the information provided by FOCUSS was more relevant.

In a recent video interview for the e-collaboration blog, Michel Wesseling explains what FOCUSS is, and what the challenges are in building a customised search engine.

FOCUSS is slowly growing, and needs more people to help build the right links, as well as people who use the search engine. The group suggested to make a toolbar for the FOCUSS search engine, like the Google toolbar. That would lower the threshold to search for information via FOCUSS.

What you can do: Share your bookmarks by using the Google Marker (click here); insert the FOCUSS search engine in your website (get the code here).

Story by Richard Lalleman and Joitske Hulsebosch

Questioning communication strategies

Brussels, 6 June. During the peer to peer session on communication strategies and tools, three speakers shared their experiences: Anna from Kehys, Elisa from the ACP local government platform, and David from Sangonet. After the presentations, participants rotated in a world cafe setting to discuss issues more in depth.

We asked two participants to share what they took away from the session:

In the first video Camille Donnat from Dochas in Ireland explains that she got some answers to her main questions: 'How to deal with multiple stakeholders?' 'How to focus your work for better impact?' and 'How to avoid an overflow of information to members?'

Or to hear her explain in French:

Mauro Morabito from the Nonviolent Peaceforce Europe says he became particularly interested in the incremental basis of how an organisation builds up its information strategies, for instance an organisation which started in 2001, recruited an information officer in 2006. He would like to have a look at those steps.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

NGOs and the press

Brussels, 6 June. During the Peer to Peer exchange session on advocacy, Christine Coudour, from European Voice gave an interesting presentation on the paper's cooperation with NGOs.

She argued that NGOs are still quite sceptical when it comes to contacts with the press. She described how civil society organisations can raise awareness among European policy makers by using a newspaper for campaigning.

Emphasising that European Voice is distributed to all EU policy makers, 'advertisements' are an important tool to reach target groups. Nevertheless newspapers are profit-making enterprises and will not usually offer their services for free. Although she can help NGOs to find a perfect format to suit a campaign, NGOs need to raise funds to cover the costs.

After the session two participants shared their perspectives on working with the media:

Marta Pejda - Gruppa Zagrancia (Poland):

Florent Sebban - Eurostep (Brussels):

Story by Martin Behrens

Research4development: Communication and the digital orange

Brussels, 6 June: This peer to peer session brought together a rich mix of ideas and approaches to research communication. The Southern Africa Research and Documentation Centre in Zimbabwe presented its virtual library, publishing, and expert databases; the European Commission presented plans for a European Development Report to communicate research; and the Institute of Development Studies described recent discussions they hosted on the role of infomediaries between Researchers and Policy makers.

Catherine Fisher used the metaphor of oranges production and consumption as a way to depict and understand the research information value chain. A research organisation might be the tree, others would pick the fruit, various others process, distribute, quality check, package and market the products.

Participants who found the model useful argued that it introduced new ideas such as the need for market research in the research information chain. Those questioning the model felt that research organisations could themsleves directly produce and market their information online - 'digital organges' - without the various intermediaries.

More generally, those working with African research felt that the orange we currently consume may not be as wholesome or nutritious as it could be - it is largely dominated by Northern content.

Others argued that the metaphor missed an important dimension of information. As Michel Wesseling of ISS said: "the orange when eaten is finished; information when used, and particularly when shared, just keeps on growing."

Whilst difficult to match all the elements in a research communication model, the orange metaphor certainly provided food for thought. We have the ingedients for a continued discussion ...

Find out more about research and research information at the Euforic research dossier.

Story by Chris Addison

Building knowledge sharing and learning networks for development

Brussels, 6 June. The first peer-2-peer exchange session focused on different ways in which organisations are moving beyond information dissemination and exchange to build spaces for change. Speakers included Wilma Roem (ILEIA), Danny Aerts (ATOL) and Niels Keijzer (ECDPM). Read the articles...

Using information, knowledge sharing, and communication for more effective campaigning

In the second peer-2-peer session on June 6th, Philip Rohrer (CIDSE) and Andreas Vogt (CONCORD/GCAP) shared their perspectives on ways that the Internet and other tools are being used to campaign and mobilize people on development issues. Read the stories ...

Communication strategies and tools for development organisations and networks

The 4th peer-2-peer session on 6 June looked different strategies, approaches and tools by which development results and activities are communicated. Speakers includes Anna Pollari (KEHYS), David Barnard (SangoNet), and Elisa Rafamatanantsoa (ACP Local Government Forum). Read all the stories ...

Using information, knowledge sharing, and communication for more effective advocacy

On 6 June, participants explored how the Internet and other tools are being used to advocate changes in development policies and practices? Presenters included Florent Sebban (Eurostep), Agnès Philippart (Concord) and Christine Coudour of European Voice, and Cécile Crosset (Plan Belgique). Read all the stories ...

R4D – accessing, sharing and using development research information

Brussels, 6 June. Led and facilitated by Can Akdeniz (EADI), this peer-2-peer session session included presentations by Françoise Moreau (DG Development), Catherine Fisher (IDS), and Joseph Ngwawi (SARDC). They explored approaches and tools by which the outputs of policy and research organizations are documented, accessed, and communicated. Read the stories ...