Tag Archives: networking

2013 in review: A year of NGO networking on web

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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How effective is networking in development endeavors?

In the previous blog,  the vulnerability of NGOs was discussed as they frequently pioneer new approaches and challenge development orthodoxy. NGOs are vulnerable to groups with vested interests. Consequently, the NGOs face the problem of either co-optation or reprisal from the government and other traditional power holders that want to maintain the status quo. Moreover, they have to deal with the proliferation of pseudo NGOs that undermine the sector’s credibility. A number of these pseudo NGOs set up not for any other purpose than to take advantage of funding sources for dubious or narrow purposes, according to Abad (1990).

Faced with such problems and threats to their credibility, NGOs have seen the need to establish linkages and networks among themselves and with other sectors of society. Melgrito (1994) has defined networking as coordination among people, groups or organizations of various interests and orientation, working together as in a chain so as to function in a specific manner. It takes place when organizations link up together and make concerted efforts for mutual advantage and greater effectiveness towards the achievement of a common goal.

As a strategy, networking has been used by many sectors in pursuing development endeavors. Networks link local efforts for more effective lobbying and advocacy and provide venues for the exchange of experiences and resources between similar NGOs. A proper coordination of NGO activities, in networking, helps prevent unnecessary duplication or overlapping of development effort. NGOs are also protected from any form of threat because of their collective nature, while they police their own ranks through common code of conduct.

In the Philippines, NGOs have reached the highest level of unity in networking during the launching of the Caucus of Development NGOs (CODE NGOs) in 1990. This solidarity, however, did not happen overnight. It was a culmination of decades of common struggle similar to what other NGOs in other countries experienced in the course of historical development characterized by diverse intensity and highlights.

The united effort of Philippine NGOs evolved from relief and reconstruction work to welfare activities geared toward anti- communist inspired social reform. Affected by the social context, which witnessed worldwide questioning of development approach, Philippine NGOs found themselves doing grassroots organizing for transformation. Such approach, however, faced a momentary halt when confronted by a repressive regime that used an iron-fist policy in dealing with oppositions. Overcoming the threat, NGOs became instrumental in the qualitative growth of the organized mass movement, which culminated in the EDSA phenomenon. Thereafter, NGOs have maintained their legitimacy and prominence in Philippine society. The gains of networking in the national scene inspired the NGOs to translate it to the regional and provincial level.

In Iloilo, NGOs have formed themselves into various networks, some even earlier than the CODE NGOs. So far, there are about four networks existing in Iloilo. The oldest of these is the Iloilo Council of Social Development (ICSD) which traces its roots to the oldest NGO network in the national level, the National Council of Social Development, formerly Council of Welfare Agencies Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. (CWAFPI).

With the highest level of networking or coalition building ever reached by the NGO Community, it has been assumed that issues and problems among NGOs have started to diminish. Reality, however, proves otherwise. Despite the gains of networking, various tensions continue to exist between and among NGOs.

The success of NGO coalition building could not hide the fact that the Philippine NGO community remains riven by three cleavages, namely: ideological, professional, and proliferation of pseudo NGOs. Conflicts and differences ranging from competition for declining development funding to sectarian tendencies affect even the largest NGOs of the country (Alegre 1996). These problems and other issues, concern, and challenge confronting NGOs lead to the question: How effective is networking in development endeavors?

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Second  of  the series of posts on Networking as  Development Strategy of NGOs in the Province of Iloilo. Thesis requirement for my Master of Social Work degree from University of the Philippines-Diliman in 2000.

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Filed under Networking, Thesis/Research

It’s politics that sustains our network

Slide1

Now that we have reached the 13th year of celebration, we are certain to sustain  the activity in the coming years. For number 13 has been considered both unlucky and lucky number. Countries around the world associated the number 13 with either luck or disaster.  Let the debates go on.  Regardless of  the result, the fact remains that  we have survived the 13th year which, for me,  assures us of  a bright future.

In the past  12 years we experienced both worlds – the peak and the lowest  condition of  the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs (ICON)’s work  and problems in mobilization. To quote the wedding vow, we experienced “times of plenty and  times of want, sickness and health, joy and sorrow,  failure and  triumph.”

We experienced having two full time staff, as well as none. There was a time when both by necessity and in an attempt to restore the tradition of a  functional board, we decided  to do away with any staff.  While the idea was bright, we realized upon implementation that the situation had changed. The core group is now tied up to respective work unlike before  when they had the time within their disposal.

ICON is a story of struggles – from the lobbying stage for the institutionalization of the Non-government organization s and People’s organizations  (NGO PO)  Week to the subsequent pioneering days in organizing the network.  The struggle in lobbying with fellow development workers and NGO partners to support the  resolution for the declaration of NGO PO Week.  The task to convince  veteran organizers of various persuasions to form the coalition had been taxing and wearisome.

We also  struggled to sustain both the coalition and  politics in the government.  We even had the foretaste of   tug-of-war  of  politicians at Capitol in  view of the May 2010  which  affected the release of  our budget. Our network was even affected by the transition of my work in CPU caused by changes in administration where  from administrative position that enhanced networking, I went  back to faculty status without even a permanent place  to stay.

ICON 2


A review of the history will help us understand the state of our coalition,  learn lessons from the past to guide us in another decade of development. Circumstances, indeed,  had determined the nature of the organization. ICON is a by product of the NGO PO Week, Although the name was already christened for  the umbrella organization of the NGOs and POs accredited by the province when required to form by the accrediting body,  at that time.

Historically, the initiative came from the Iloilo Council of Social Development (ICSD), another loose network of welfare NGOs which can be categorized in the political spectrum as moderate. At that time, there was a realization that some NGOs were left behind.  The organizations managed    by veteran organizers always dominated the decision making and elections in meetings. So we decided to solidify our forces to capture the leadership in  the Provincial Development Council.

It worked out which resulted to our annual celebration for the benefit of broader numbers of NGOs and POs. Since then, circumstances also worked in favor of ICON both in the Provincial Development Council, City Development Council and other government agencies. We have reached the peak in mobilization reaching to thousands  which impressed both the government and private sectors. The provincial government has provided us office with increasing budget for the celebration. Even business groups and the academic community joined us.

ICON 1

Looking back, I realized that what sustains us for years is  POLITICS. It has been  defined in various  ways to capture the  complexities  of relations of people in the society involving  authority or power. Some even thought of politics as  sort of “intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or group in order to gain control or power.”  While we might have experienced these elements  in  our 12 years of struggle, I want to qualify what I mean by politics that sustains our network. It is an acrostic/acronym  which capsulizes  the  sustaining elements in our organization, as follows: Participation, Optimism, Lobbying, Integrity, Tact, Interdependence, Coordination, Spirituality

(to be continued)

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Message delivered by Rev. Edwin I. Lariza, ICON president, during the General Assembly of the Iloilo Coalition of NGOs and POs to culminate the 13th NGO PO Week on December 6, 2012.

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