Starting an NGO:
You may not be able to fight mistrust and apathy ...

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Starting an NGO
You may not be able to fight mistrust and apathy ...

With NGO's focus on communities and social work, they also remain in the spotlight - of the mass media and of the community itself where they are working. Hence many times, an NGO will have to fight mistrust and/or apathy in all that it does. There are a number of steps that can be taken to do this:
  • Keep records: Right from the beginning, maintain a clear comprehensive log and record of all the things you do, and transactions you have effected. This ensures that fraud or misdeeds can be traced back and weeded out, but also enables learning for the future.
  • Build trust: This is absolutely essential, to build trust with not only the community that you are working with, but with everyone you interact with, both within the NGO, and outside. Maintain proactive transparency and accountability in all your activities and transactions, and keep open lines of communication. This will go a long way in building trust.
  • Involve well-known people: These can include political leaders, famous thinkers/philosophers, celebrities, and other well-known people who the community recognizes. This can be a 'magnet' to initially bring them together, and give legitimacy to your work!
  • Organize meetings: As mentioned earlier, a well organized public meeting is critical to explain the key points in your proposed activity or project. Such meetings will get people talking, and build involvement and committment to your work.
  • Use the mass media: This is more difficult to carry out, particularly in the beginning stages of your work. But make this part of your long-term strategy - not a one-shot, adhoc affair with the mass media. This issue is explored in great detail in another of GDRC's feature, "Dealing with the Media" - have a look!

Note: Not all of the ideas mentioned above will work and they are not complete as well. Different places need different approaches, at different times, for different purposes. The objective is to list out as many ideas as possible, which you can pick and choose depending on your specific need! Therefore suggestions are definately welcome to add to the above ideas. Send an email to:

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Comments and suggestions:
Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org