Can an Online Community for NGOs Help Reduce Duplication in the Field?

By Jennifer James

The Huffington Post Impact

I am not sure how I stumbled upon the Practical Initiatives Network (PIN) website, but when I did I was thrilled to see it. As someone who spends a lot of time in the field visiting many NGOs both large and small, it’s hard not to see duplication across organizations. I often think how better it would be if smaller organizations that serve the same communities through like programming would pool their resources to make a larger impact. Or, that when programs and services overlap even across countries that they would collaborate more often to at least avoid replication in the field.

Alice Jowett, the founder of Practical Initiative Network believes the same. After working with NGOs she saw a need for a place where NGOs could collaborate and share ideas and program outcomes.

I interviewed Jowett about her motivations behind starting PIN and what she sees for its future.

Jennifer James: When I saw PIN the first thing I thought was, “it’s about time.” What prompted you to create PIN?

Jowett: I came to see a real need for this type of free, open platform through my own work with NGOs, and later as a development student. Before my studies I had worked to help establish Conversations with Foreigners (CWF), a small NGO that operates as a social enterprise to provide a sustainable funding stream for a local NGO in rural Cambodia. The concept was so successful I decided to use it in my MA dissertation on the scaling-up process. I was curious how successful models like CWF might be scaled-up through replication in other countries and locations, and perhaps more importantly how the core concept could be more easily shared with others.

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