How can NGOs stay out of the headlines (for the wrong reasons)

NGOs and wrong headlines

The good reputation of an NGO determines its ultimate existence. For NGOs not all publicity is good publicity. Negative media reports can cause irreparable damage to your NGO’s image. In some instances, media reports play a role in attracting donors, this is done by publicizing NGOs’ successful activities.  For example, WaterAid decided to subsidize the Telegraph staff member to travel with the NGO to Tanzania to cover a piece on maternal health. The result was a compelling article published online by the Telegraph.

Some of your unsuccessful activities are newsworthy to journalists. For example, when food donated by your NGO is expired, or pasta is sent to a community that does not eat pasta and refugees appear on camera munching on uncooked pasta. In most cases, news agencies drag their feet in reporting your successful activities, but are good on reporting bad news. Any NGO scandal that involves celebs and politicians is broadly covered by media.

The emergence of new reporting standards like the Global Reporting Initiative will force NGOs to achieve parity with the business and public sector on transparency standards. This will also force NGOs to be transparent. Any wrongdoing will be in the public domain for everyone to see. The public will have an opportunity to curate and assess the NGO’s potential.

Publicity experts view social networks as effective tools for NGOs to deepen their connection with the public. However, they caution about the danger of relying on social media alone, this is because charities are expected to roll up their sleeves and tackle their work out there. Another disadvantage mentioned is, social media trolls thrive on comments posted by NGOs on social media, like Twitter, to validate their unsubstantiated claims.

Staying out of headlines may mean that you only use media for sharing your humanitarian activities. Instead of relying only on news to publicize your activities, consider developing your own content. This will allow you  to choose which information to share. You can keep overhead costs like advertising down by creating your own ad campaigns. Achieving all the above does not guarantee that you’ll stay out of the headlines for the wrong reasons.

In order to keep your NGOs image untainted by bad media reports consider this:

Tweet this: One of the top reasons NGOs find themselves in wrong headlines is, misspending of donated funds.

Why you should avoid making wrong headlines

One of the top reasons NGOs find themselves in wrong headlines is, misspending of donated funds. Fraud by one corrupt employee will cost the NGO its image. Commentators will use that one case as an example to vindicate claims that NGOs raise money to enrich NGO employees. They will also claim that NGOs are not capable of handling large amount of funds. The more people read this news, the less they donate to your cause.

The Guardian reports that Clare Battle, a policy analyst at Water Aid believes the responsibility for getting it right lies with NGOs. She is also quoted as saying: ”When the quality of local procurement systems is poor, donors and NGOs should help strengthen these systems, rather than employing other practices that may even undermine attempts to move towards country-led processes,” A poor procurement system is a lure for corruption. This is fixable though and your NGO can develop a stronger procurement system to end corruption.

Over the years, NGOs have been struggling to deal with the following:

  • Ending the scourge of corruption which saw NGOs making wrong headlines.
  • Spending donated funds responsibly.
  • Reporting fraud to law enforcement agencies in good time.

These pitfalls have cost NGOs both their reputation and future donated funds.

Today donors worry that, if they give NGOs unrestricted funding, it will be wasted. To avoid giving money to organizations that don’t know how to spend responsibly, donors choose to reserve funds for NGOs like UNICEF.

procurementexpress a purchase order system

How UNICEF stays out of negative headlines?

UNICEF has invested in efficient PO system that is customized for them. Let’s look at one of UNICEF’s projects: This project involves helping young African women and men. They rely on UNICEF’S support to help them become agents of positive change for the future. Let’s make an example of a 23-year-old woman who was a victim of war violence and has witnessed how the scourge of violence can destroy young lives. She shared her ordeal with UNICEF: ‘“We have had to change our home at least four times because Tutsi people were persecuted by Hutus and vice versa. First, we had to leave our house in Kwitaba when the war started, then we moved to the first camp in Musenyi. There we didn’t last more than one year and we fled again,” Because she was constantly moving home, she never had a chance to go to school.

Thanks to UNICEF and their transparent a PO system to buy food parcels, she now lives in an internal displacement camp in Mubanga with her husband.

The wrong headline may also lead to rejection of your proposals for funding. Future donors will not have to dig deep for reasons to reject. This is because, donors feel that they’re being more responsible by restricting funding to a given activity when they can track that activity.

Unicef has adopted strict budgeting policies and has adopted an efficient purchase order system.  This could be your NGO.

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