Working in the charity/NGO or health industry at the moment is full on. In addition to the frontline work of fighting the pandemic, there is many other things to juggle. And all of us have likely received many offers of assistance from well meaning people and companies.
Sometimes it is difficult to determine which offers to pass on and which to take. Here’s five things to consider:
Before talking about digital or partnerships, it is important to be clear on what your organisation is doing. It’s impossible to determine if an offer is worth pursuing if you are not clear on what you are seeking to do.
2. Avoid Being a Guinea Pig
Many offers that come in crises are from companies looking for a ‘market’ to experiment with. Too often the innovations and technology are unproven and you are being asked to be a test environment for them. This is almost always more work for you than it is worth and the people that benefit most are not the vulnerable you seek to serve, but the companies. However, the caveat here is that sometimes people come with tried and tested technology or ideas but have an innovative application. That situation may be worth exploring.
3. Think Long Term about them
what is their business model? Their track record? Will they survive this crisis? What happens if they don’t? Far too often I see charities and NGOs struggling to support something that they ‘bought into’ but then the originators disappeared. And there also is a large graveyard of ‘flame outs’.
4. Think Long Term about you
Think about maintenance and ongoing costs. It’s much easier to find funding for experiments than it is for ongoing running costs. So where’s the money going to come from? And don’t just say we’ll figure that out later or we’ll find a grant. That’s irresponsible and your future self will not thank you. Also think about change. What changes are required to your business processes, your people, your culture to make the ‘offer’ successful?
5. Data Data Data
Too often these ‘free’ offers of support come with small print stating that the company making the offer will ‘own’ and control the data collected using their platform. Or they might have ongoing access to it. This is a bad idea. Ideally the people about whom the data is should ‘own’ and ‘control’ it. In absence of this, you as the NGO who are collecting and using the data are effectively guardians of the data. Before sharing any of the data (including anonymised datasets) it should be clear how the data will be used, by whom, and when it will be destroyed.
There are of course many more things to consider, but hopefully the above gives you a start. It’s also important to be evaluating offers with a diverse group of people and remember, saying no is always an option.