#RoadFromBogotá: Perspectives on how INGOs are faring as they work to #ShiftThePower

05 Jun 2024

What did we learn from the #ShiftThePower Global Summit in Bogotá about how INGOs are faring as they seek to shift power and decolonize their practices? Here, we feature the perspectives of people working in and with INGOs on their experiences and reflections on the #RoadFromBogotá.


Creating a space where INGOs can be challenged to work differently

Kate Moger joined the Pledge for Change last year as its Global Director, after two decades in leadership roles for INGOs in humanitarian contexts in Africa. The #ShiftThePower Global Summit connected her to movements and organizations she hadn’t encountered before – some of which want the Pledge’s support in engaging with donors or connecting with their peers in other parts of the world.

“What the Pledge for Change is trying to do is make a space where some established INGOs can be challenged with perspectives from different places in the system, allowing partners to feedback on ways support might be done differently. With our accountability and learning mechanisms, we’re trying to flip some of logic around whose voice and whose opinions are important, and what success looks like.”

“My sense from speaking to INGO colleagues is that they don’t see themselves as part of the #ShiftThePower movement. They see themselves as a target of advocacy, but they don’t see the movement as being their home. This is symptomatic of a broader malaise in parts of the International NGO sector – they no longer see themselves as part of civil society in the places they work, they don’t see the value or recognize their place in the ecosystem. I think that’s a real problem.”

Read more here


We need to accelerate and make flexible funding everything we do

Charlotte Timson is Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of BOND and was Chief Executive of Transform Trade. With its focus on trade justice, Transform Trade sits outside the development mainstream. Attending the Summit helped Charlotte reflect on the challenging transformation that the organization has been undergoing since 2020 – which has resulted in new ways of working with partners, and the difficult decision to turn away from growth and scale back to its core mission.

“I came away from the Summit thinking we need to accelerate our transformation and make providing flexible funding everything we do. I don’t want to do restricted funding grants anymore.”

“Among INGOs, I feel there’s a bit of a divide now. Some organizations are just going to try to transform, particularly the smaller ones like us, they will just go all in, take the risk and say ‘if we close we close.’ I think this is less the case with the major INGOs. But I wonder how sustainable the sector currently is. The competition for resources is increasing, there are so many INGOs, you have to ask if we are being as effective as we can be with the resources available.”

Read more here


An eco-system approach to civil society support

Kate Newman is Chief Executive of INTRAC, which works to support and strengthen civil society organizations. After a year-long process of review and reflection, INTRAC has agreed upon a new strategic approach designed to support efforts to shift power.

“At the heart of our new strategy is the intention to shift from prioritizing support to individual actors working in civil society, and civil society organizations; to focusing on the wider eco-system of civil society support; strengthening and transforming this nationally and globally. We believe that this is the most effective way we can deliver our vision and mission.”

“We also want to actively contribute in supporting, encouraging and holding INGOs accountable on the ‘how’ they practice power shifts – moving from the words to action. We are not claiming that we have answers on the what, these are coming from elsewhere in the movement, but we do feel that we can contribute on the ‘how’ based on deep experience on INGO organizational change pathways, equitable partnership and organizational development; linked to our intention to support civil society organizations to: develop, engage with others, and do what they want to do, better.”

Read more here


Additional reading: Who holds authority has changed dramatically

Anu Kumar is President and CEO at Ipas, which has transformed itself and its ways of working to share leadership and centre decision-making as close as possible to the people Ipas serves. Anu described the change Ipas has been through in a blog entitled ‘Let’s stop talking about decolonizing global health and development and actually make it happen.’

“Three years ago, Ipas, a global reproductive justice organization that works across five continents to expand access to abortion and contraception, began actively ‘walking the talk’ toward becoming an anti-colonial organization.

After 50 years as a traditional ‘hub-and-spoke’ organization, with power centered in the United States, we now are a locally-led, globally-connected network, with power, authority and leadership dispersed and shared across the regions where we work. Our strategies remain the same, but how we carry them out and who holds authority has changed dramatically.”

Read the full blog here


See our accompanying #RoadFromBogotá series on how CSOs are faring as they work to #ShiftThePower 

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