In the Media

In the Media (58)

NGO Advisor's new annual ranking of the world’s top NGOs yields important and even unexpected insights for the development community. The list — published each year since 2011 — aims to identify the most impactful organizations in the world.

Some top performers are household names; others are little known even within the development community. The ranks can provide outside perspective on an NGO’s work and also share lessons about what’s working with the broader sector.

BRAC tops the rankings for the second straight year — they received the highest score out of a possible 1,400 against 165 criteria. NGO assessments draw on publicly available organization information, economic and financial data, human resources and governance and marketing and communications. Doctors Without Borders, The Skoll Foundation, Danish Refugee Council and Ashoka rounded out the top five.

The rankings are not about size. “We were more interested in showcasing the sense of creativity and innovation that is so unique in the nonprofit sector,” Jean-Christophe Nothias, editor-in-chief of NGO Advisor, told Devex. “Our policy was to make sure that the methodology would give enough weight to these ideas of innovation and creativity. Weighting transparency and governance as another leading pillar of interest for scoring was another key component.”

For example, the methodology enables startups to have a presence on the list through a softer rating process in the first three years of operation. Following that period, scoring gets tougher. The methodology has evolved over the past half decade to enable a broader definition of NGOs and incorporate academic rigor.

Still, put together, the organizations in the rankings have serious heft. “In 2015, the top 30 organisations of the rankings represented over $12 billion of net assets, 7 billions of yearly income, about 600 millions of surplus and nearly 2 million of employees,” Nothias said.

Several trends emerge from the data. Since 2013, NGOs with a technical edge have been making their presence felt in the rankings, according to Nothias.

The rankings also reveal that U.S. nonprofits, about 20 percent of those listed, are relatively fragile. “The U.S. entities in 2015 have suffered in financial terms, and for many, have lost ground in net assets, or are facing deficit,” Nothias said. Though he said this may recover in 2016, as private and institutional donors react to the election of President Donald Trump by supporting the NGO community.

NGO Advisor’s list also highlights how both large and small organizations can make an impact. To learn from them, Devex has selected six interesting entries in the top 500 with insights into what makes them NGOs to watch.

ACTED

France-based ACTED is the highest rated new entry this year, ranked at 33. The organization, which started in 1993, provides support to 34 countries and 8 million people through economic empowerment, education, emergency response, inclusion and microfinance programs with the support of more than 5,000 staff.

ACTED’s appearance in the rankings is thanks to an increased scope of actions and a growing budget, including support from institutional donors, including the U.N. and EU, Caroline Pasquier-Le Moulec, deputy communications manager for ACTED, told Devex. Since 2014, the organization has also been putting new policies into place for accountability and compliance to improve reporting and transparency of spending — an important factor in higher rankings for NGO Advisor.

ACTED’s strong focus on innovation is also important to their success, Pasquier-Le Moulec said. “Innovation in the activities we implement, innovation in the tools we are using for humanitarian aid, innovation in the way we are working with our partners. We are adaptable and reactive and we provide according to the context and according to the needs, while routing emergency and relief operations in long term sustainable programming.” Most recently in Haiti, for example, ACTED have been working to assist communities recovering from Hurricane Matthew to deliver sustainable and durable reconstruction solutions and rebuild more resilient homes to better withstand the impact of future natural disasters.

Action from Switzerland

Ranked 451 this year, Action from Switzerland is a newcomer to development. In 2015, the organization began as a Facebook Group established by Gabrielle Tan-Tay, who grew increasing frustrated watching people fleeing war and persecution only to be stuck in inhumane conditions at European borders.

“Dear FB friends, while it was heartening to read that some refugees got a warm welcome in Vienna and Munich, there are still many others still stuck at the stations (mainly Keleti) with only clothes on their backs and the single hope of moving onward their journey to a safe haven in order to rebuild their lives,” Tan-Tay said in her post. “With aid only trickling in from private Hungarian citizens and a few charity groups, frustration and desperation mixed with sleeping rough are what these people have to deal with on a daily basis. Enough is enough.”

Today, Action from Switzerland is providing support for vulnerable refugees with a focus on the Greek Isles.

Being a small and nimble organization is one of their strengths, according to Prageeth Jayathissa, Swiss coordinator for the group. “We are entirely funded through private donations, and as a result are able to quickly act with little overhead.”

Since entering Chios in early 2016, Action from Switzerland have worked with large NGOs to isolate the major problems facing refugees in Greece. Networking has been an important part in their impact. Action from Switzerland focuses on coordination and filling in the gaps in relief work.  

“When we first entered Chios, we made contacts with the many large NGOs such as the UNHCR, Save the Children, and Praxis, and a group of smaller organizations such as the Chios Eastern Shore Rescue Team, and A Drop in the Ocean,” Jayathissa said. “We also were in close communication with many refugees in the camps. By doing so, we could carefully evaluate what is required and support each other where possible. Very often we see situations where multiple organisations are providing the same value without communicating with each other, thus resulting in confusion amongst the refugees that they are helping.”

BRAC

As the number one NGO for two years running, BRAC is big in both scope and impact. Founded in Bangladesh in 1972, BRAC today employs more than 100,000 people in 11 countries, with a total global expenditure of about $900 million to provide programs in education, gender, health care, microfinance and more. “BRAC has big numbers to show in terms of impact, but more than quantities data, BRAC is also incredibly agile, creative and efficient,” Nothias said.  

NGO Advisor considers BRAC a key organization in the development of what they call “for-good systems” — systems that embody several entities including for profit and nonprofit “in order to drive change and have lasting impact.” By combining aspects of for profit and nonprofit business models, BRAC is a leading example of an NGO reducing their reliance on donor countries for funding.

Landesa

This is the second year that Landesa places in the top 10 NGOs, ranked ninth this year. The half-century-old organization works with governments and civil society actors to reform laws and policies to provide millions of rural women and men secure rights to land.

Chris Jochnick, CEO of Landesa, told Devex that Landesa works to great effect by “leveraging the power of governments and other critical actors” on land — one of the most challenging and vital issues for much of the world’s poor.

Landesa also attributes success to an organization structure that supports passionate, talented and hard-working people — and monitors results. “We have also benefited from our commitment to rigorous monitoring and evaluation across all of Landesa’s projects and programs,” Jochnick said. “Collecting good data on program outcomes allows us to build on our successes and learn from our failures — lessons that we hope can also be of benefit to the broader development community.”

Movember

Movember skyrocketed into public view for its campaign during the month of November urging men to grow moustaches and raise money through sponsorship in support and solidarity of men's health and early prostate cancer detection research in developing countries. NGO Advisor has also been watching closely, following the organization as it grows and boosts its impact. Ranked at 72 two years ago, 55 last year and 49 this year, Nothias calls Movember a "poster boy" for its ability to steadily grow support among small donors.

Transparency and public education are an important part of Movember’s strategy to build strong support. “We believe it is integral that the men and women who support us around the world are able to see where their money goes,” Owen Sharp, CEO of the Movember Foundation, told Devex. A total of $65.4 million was raised in the 2015-16 financial year from events for the month of November and other fundraising opportunities outside the month, including marathons. The most recent annual report showed 75 cents in every $1 raised went directly to men’s health programs.

“The Movember Foundation now runs ongoing awareness and education campaigns throughout the year to educate the community on the investments we’re making in men’s health, and to highlight the serious side of the moustache,” Sharp said.

Techfugees

Techfugees is another newcomer to the list and to the broader development sector, operating since September 2015 and ranked 492 this year. The organization works on technology-based issues supporting refugees and NGOs. Techfugees hosts hackathons, such as a November event in Jordan with UNICEF in which volunteers were asked to build tech solutions “to amplify and elevate the voices of refugee children.”

Techfugees has a unique ability to appeal to and harness the skills of a younger generation. “We have nurtured a community of 15,000 tech talent across countries that was previously not activated or tapped into by NGOs to volunteer for them,” Joséphine Goube, COO of Techfugees, explained to Devex.

“We are very lucky to have that amazing community of tech volunteers, that could have chosen not to care, and that have made a commitment to use their skills to do good, and learn more about refugees challenges.”

Goube urges fellow NGOs to see the benefit in technology in supporting the needs and rights of refugees. “Technology really makes a difference in scaling collaboration, and enables us even more than ever before to get refugees to co-create, be involved in the process,” she said.

 

BRAC Liberia

 

Liberia’s education system is in crisis.

Our communities are still suffering from the effects of the long civil war and the devastating Ebola outbreak. Less than 60% of school-aged children in Liberia are in school, placing Liberia in the lowest percentile of net enrollment rates in the world. Those who do attend school may not fare much better: among adult women who reached fifth grade in Liberia, less than 20% can read a single sentence. Teachers, particularly those in remote areas where there are no banks, sometimes don’t receive their salaries on time and therefore often don’t show up. And it is our children, the future of our nation, who are suffering most.

To not act now would be to fail yet another generation of Liberia’s children.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf knows that fixing the education system is a top priority for our country. So, when she appointed me as education minister at the start of 2015, she challenged me to be bold. She asked me to look for innovative education policy options that have the potential to strengthen the public education system in an enduring and sustainable manner. This government is not here to deliver empty promises: our duty is to ensure every child receives a quality education, an education that gives them real chances and choices in life.

My country defeated Ebola with strong political leadership, community engagement, proven good practice and a surge in support from our international partners. To tackle the education crisis, I knew I had to similarly bring together these ingredients, Liberia’s unique assets, in a progressive coalition to improve our schools.

Fact-checking

Any bold policy reform will always be controversial and will attract scrutiny. This was no exception. 12 months ago, I announced Partnership Schools for Liberia and it quickly became a media sensation, with a flurry of coverage in the Liberian and global media. Unfortunately, at the time, and until now, the facts have rarely been reported correctly and ideology has driven the debate.

But with hundreds of thousands of Liberian children enrolled in failing government schools, denied the quality education they deserve, now is not the time to be ideological. Now is the time to be bold, to pilot and experiment and, of course, to rigorously evaluate those pilots before scaling.

The 94-pilot school remain public schools, regulated and quality assured by the government. PSL teachers are civil servants on government payroll, and have every right to be members of teacher associations—Liberian teacher unions. The school buildings remain the property of the government of Liberia. PSL is not privatizing Liberia’s primary schools.

Eight Liberian and international school operators were carefully selected to manage the pilot schools through a ministry-led open and competitive bidding process. Between them they bring education experience from Liberia, West Africa, the wider African region and beyond. These include organizations like BRAC, with vast experience running schools and education programs in Africa and South Asia; Bridge International Academies, which operates more than 400 schools in Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and India; and Rising Academies, which runs eight schools in neighboring Sierra Leone.

A brighter future. (Courtesy Rising Academies)

These are organizations that see great value collaborating with the government to deliver better educational outcomes for our children. Any decision to scale or terminate individual PSL operators will be made by the ministry team, based on independent evidence and community feedback. Most importantly, no single organization is or will be getting monopoly rights over Liberia’s primary schools.

Price points

The Ministry of Education has exactly the same financial obligation to the 94 pilot schools as any other public school—around $50 per child per year. PSL operators receive an additional philanthropically-funded subsidy of $50 per child, which enables them to build up the teams, curricula, data systems, among other things they need to run excellent schools.

Ultimately, we expect all operators to run their schools at the government price point, but we know that takes time. We are fortunate to have a group of philanthropic partners who are willing to take on this financial risk in support of the government. At my request, PSL is being rigorously evaluated by a world class research team to provide an independent measure of the effectiveness, equity and sustainability of PSL. The research team works hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Education so we get the data we need to make sensible policy decisions about the future of PSL.

The evaluation is analyzing the impact of PSL across several dimensions, including enrolment, attendance, learning outcomes, equity and parent perception and community engagement. It is a randomized control trial, which will help ensure that differences between PSL and non-PSL schools reflect the true impact of the program rather than any pre-existing differences between the schools. I have been clear from the start that any significant scale up of PSL will be dependent on the results of this evaluation.

This is just one component of Liberia’s progressive education reform platform PSL is an important but by no means the only priority for the Ministry of Education. There is no magic bullet to fix education in Liberia or anywhere, and PSL is just one of a range of reforms we are undertaking to improve our education system. These include plans to reach out-of-school children; the deepening and strengthening of school accountability mechanisms; and an aggressive payroll cleansing program which has already achieved $1.7 million annual savings, no token amount given that my total basic education budget is just $41 million per year.

Within PSL, my task as the education minister is to make sure that the school operators are provided with the conditions they need to deliver, while holding them accountable for their performance. They are required to report regularly on pre-agreed metrics, and their schools are inspected by my team for aspects including child-safe-guarding and quality of teaching and learning.

The public side of a public-private partnership is just as important as the private side. My team is building up the capacity we need to truly be the duty bearer for education: with responsibility for all decisions to commission, scale and indeed terminate operator contracts.

Signs so far are promising. Almost 28,000 children are enrolled in PSL schools, taught by re-invigorated and re-trained government teachers, supported by energized parents and resilient communities. They have the full backing of the Ministry of Education and I am proud of what has been achieved so far.

But these are early days for PSL. While I believe it holds great potential, my team and I are clear that the program will not be scaled significantly until the data shows it works and we have the capacity within government to manage it effectively.

Please challenge and scrutinize the program. We welcome that. But don’t judge PSL on ideological grounds. Judge us on the data—data on whether PSL schools deliver better learning outcomes for children.

The future of hundreds of thousands of Liberian children, their communities and our nation is at stake. We must not fail them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Emily Coppel Headshot sm

Special to the Philanthropy Journal

By Emily Coppel

A little more than 30 years ago in Bangladesh, Naveen’s* mother was about to give birth to a baby girl. Her family was relatively well off, and she was able to deliver in one of the better hospitals in the country. But complications arose just after Naveen came into the world: her mother began to hemorrhage internally; she was bleeding profusely and her fever wouldn’t drop. The doctors said Naveen’s mother had an infection, and the hospital had just one dose of antibiotics. Thankfully, she could afford the antibiotics. Miraculously, she survived.

High maternal and child mortality rates historically have been seen as a telling indicator of a country’s failing health system. In 1980, the situation was especially stark in Bangladesh: two in every 25 babies would die as an infant; one in every hundred mothers would not survive childbirth. With 84 million people (now nearly 160 million) living in a country the size of Iowa, a public health solution needed to be expansive.

BRAC LogoAlthough it isn’t well known in the US, one of the largest NGOs in the world began in Bangladesh in the 70s. Known as BRAC, the organization now reaches 138 million people, in 11 countries worldwide, with programs that range from healthcare to education, gender justice to microfinance. Recently, BRAC was ranked the number one NGO in the world by NGO Advisor, largely because of its unique self-financing model – 70 percent of the organization’s budget comes from its own social enterprises.

But in the 80s, BRAC was still growing, developing programs to help the country recover from the 1971 war of independence and a series of cyclones, both of which contributed to devastating, widespread poverty. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, a former Shell Oil executive, founded BRAC because he was motivated by the urgent needs of his fellow Bangladeshis. The country’s pressing health crisis was foremost in Abed’s mind.

Faced with the challenge of extremely high maternal and child mortality rates, another organization might have built a hospital or shipped medical supplies to Bangladesh. Abed and BRAC took a different approach. At the time, diarrheal disease was one of the biggest killers of children. The disease precipitated severe dehydration, leading to a loss of electrolytes that was lethal for children. In rural areas of Bangladesh, few people knew how to treat sick children suffering from the disease.

BRAC researchers developed a simple yet life-saving solution: a combination of salt, sugar and water, which, if given in the correct proportion, would rehydrate children and decrease their likelihood of death to just one percent. A pinch of salt, one fistful of sugar and a liter of water created the perfect elixir. The formula was only one part of the solution; teaching and persuading families to give this liquid to their children was the real hurdle.

BRAC piloted a project that trained volunteers from communities without access to health resources. These volunteers were women, over the age of 25, with a basic level of education. They became community health workers, known in Bangladesh as Shasthya Shebikas.

The Shasthya Shebikas trained new mothers face-to-face on how to make and administer the rehydration solution to their children. They revisited mothers regularly, testing them on how to make the mixture correctly and ensuring they gave it to their children when they fell sick. After significant trial and error, BRAC altered the teaching approach and established incentives for effective training. The program worked. BRAC scaled up to ultimately reach 12 million households in almost every village in Bangladesh.

In 1988, one in five children died from cholera or diarrheal-related disease. By 2007, it was one in 50.

When BRAC pivoted to address maternal health in the 80s, this massive network of Shasthya Shebikas proved instrumental. BRAC trained them in pre- and post-natal care to ensure that pregnant mothers had the tools for a safe and healthy birth. These volunteers visited mothers regularly throughout their pregnancy, monitoring their vital signs and referring them to nearby clinics when necessary.

The organization also sold medicine to Shasthya Shebikas at a low cost, and they in turn sold them to villagers for a low, fixed price. The program became self-financing, and the health workers were even able to make a small profit. Today, BRAC has a network of more than 100,000 health workers in seven countries, reaching millions worldwide.

This approach – finding a simple solution, testing it and scaling it up – is used by BRAC across health, education, financial empowerment, livelihood, and all of its program areas.

For mothers like Naveen’s, faced with complications giving birth, or nursing a sick child, it’s often the low-tech solutions – a trained health worker, access to medication, or a rehydrating liquid – that offer the real miracles. It’s the simple solutions that save the most lives.


*Naveen’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.

 

This article was originally posted here: http://pj.news.chass.ncsu.edu/2016/08/01/brac-usa/

 

The largest NGO in the world, BRAC headquartered in Bangladesh, applies its development aid concepts outside Bangladesh in ten countries around the world. The silver bullet? Building on the strength of each individual. An interview with Petra Costerman Boodt, BRAC International's Resident Representative Fundraiser in The Netherlands, on aid, on 'giving', and the international opportunities for BRAC. Read more

Wednesday, 04 May 2016 18:00

Birthday wishes pour in for Sir Abed

 

Wishes poured in from the global leaders in celebration of the 80th birthday of Brac Founder and Chairman Sir Fazle Hasan Abed on April 27.

Gordon Brown, former prime minister of the UK, Desmond Swayne, minister of State for International Development, UK, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, minister of International Development and the Pacific, Australia, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia, are among a few of those who wished their best. Read More.

 

When Sa’a jumped from the moving truck, she wasn’t thinking about her education that had just been cut short. She was fleeing for her life.

One of the more than 250 girls kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, two years ago, Sa’a recounted that heartbreaking story to members of Congress recently, renewing calls to rescue the hundreds of still missing schoolgirls and finally #bringbackourgirls.

Sa’a is now a college student in the U.S. Her story is a reminder of what is possible when girls are given the chance to receive a quality education in a safe place. Her story also illustrates what we stand to lose when a girl’s education is taken away. Read More.

Brac Founder and Chairperson Sir Fazle Hasan Abed yesterday spent a busy day at work despite it being his 80th birthday, carving out time to enjoy a 4D exhibition and a festive programme when a book containing articles about him written by noted personalities was also unveiled. Former diplomat Faruk Chowdhury, who edited the book, presented Sir Fazle with a copy and the latter cut a cake, said a press release. Born in 1936 in Bangladesh, Sir Fazle was educated at both Dhaka and Glasgow universities. He was a professional accountant in his thirties, working as a senior corporate executive at Shell Oil when the 1971 Liberation War had a profound effect on him, dramatically changing the direction of his life. He left his job, moved to London and devoted himself to Bangladesh's war of independence. Read more

 

 

The many positive contributions made by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed testify to a life which has been eminently successful and a source of inspiration for others. A golden thread that runs through his range of activities is an abiding concern for bringing about change in the lives of human beings by affording them opportunities for realising their potential. His creative response to the challenge for change was as founder of an extraordinary NGO called BRAC. The institutions and activities sponsored and supported by BRAC reflect this concern, as these embrace, among others, education, health, human rights, the rule of law, and governance. Read More.

 

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