A Digital NGO – Enhancing Compliance & Technology Integration for NGOs

As advocates for digital transformation and integration, one out five of Tech & Media Convergency (TMC)’s strategic focuses is Digital Renovation. Through this focus, we run the Digital NGO Accelerator program. The Digital NGO project aims to drive digital adaptation through a holistic approach, advocating for “Absolute Digitization” within the NGO community in Tanzania. By integrating digitally enabled technologies, the project seeks to foster meaningful conversations and actions toward comprehensive digital transformation.

It is through this program that we factored in an excellent initiative titled “Enhancing Compliance & Technology Integration for NGOs”. This initiative is a collaborative effort supported by the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) and funded by the Ford Foundation. This transformative project has been able to empower 17 out of the 20 targeted Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) operating within Tanzania from the regions of Zanzibar, Pemba, Mbeya, Moshi, Dar es Salaam, Dodoma and Geita.

Established in 2002, the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) consistently plays a pivotal role in strengthening the civil society sector in Tanzania. Through its various initiatives, FCS significantly contributes to the capacity building of civil society organizations (CSOs) and citizens, thereby promoting democratic governance and enhancing the quality of life across Tanzanian society. TMC was engaged to share it’s expertise on Technology and Statutory compliance, necessary components required for the CSOs during this fourth industrial revolution of the Digital Economy. TMC’s involvement went beyond basic implementation; it focused on integrating advanced technology to streamline operations and bolster compliance measures within the participating NGOs.

Program’s Approach
  • Orientation Session (Online)

The program kicked off with an orientation session conducted online, which provided an overview of the program’s objectives, expectations, and key components. This session served to align participants and establish a common understanding of the program’s goals and processes.

Conducting this session online was crucial as it ensured that all participants, regardless of their location, could attend and engage in the initial briefing. It set the stage for a unified approach and facilitated the smooth launch of the program.

  • Diagnostic Report on Digital Health

Following the orientation session, participating organizations underwent a comprehensive diagnostic assessment of their digital health. This report identified strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement in the organization’s use of technology, serving as a roadmap for subsequent interventions and capacity-building efforts.

This approach was essential as it provided a clear and objective understanding of each organization’s current digital capabilities. By pinpointing specific areas that needed enhancement, the diagnostic report enabled the development of targeted strategies to improve technology integration and utilization.

  • Orientation and Training Session (Physical)

Hands-on orientation and training sessions were conducted physically at each organization’s offices. These sessions delved deeper into statutory compliances as well as specific areas identified in the diagnostic report, providing tailored guidance and practical training to enhance technology utilization and compliance within the organization.

Conducting these sessions in person was important as it allowed for direct interaction, personalized instruction, and immediate feedback. This face-to-face engagement fostered a more effective learning environment and ensured that participants could directly apply the training to their specific contexts.

  • Follow-up Session (Online)

To ensure continuity and progress tracking, a follow-up session was conducted online after the orientation and training sessions. This session provided an opportunity to review progress, address any challenges or concerns, and reinforce key concepts covered during the training. It also served as a platform for ongoing support and collaboration among participants.

The follow-up session was crucial in maintaining momentum, ensuring accountability, and providing a space for continuous improvement. By leveraging online platforms, it facilitated sustained engagement and support, allowing participants to share experiences and solutions in real time.

The State of Mindset Change (willingness to change and adapt)

NGOs often struggle to establish a consistent culture of Digital Transformation, primarily due to a lack of awareness rather than inherent capacity limitations. We’ve encountered NGOs that rely heavily on manual processes but possess the necessary attributes and infrastructure to begin adapting to Digital Transformation. To address this, our approach at Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) emphasizes a shift in mindset and introduce organizations to new planning, execution, and operational methods using their existing technological mechanisms and digital tools.

We consider the program successful when the organizations progressed from the mindset change which is phase one of the Theory of change to phase 2 “the goal” or phase 3 “SWOT analysis,” indicating a notable transition towards embracing Digital Transformation. The theory of change is extracted from the TMC’s report, An Overview of the Digital Ecosystem, Emerging and Applied Technologies on NGOs in Tanzania“.

Digital NGO - TMC's Theory of Change
A theory of change developed by Tech and Media Convergency in 2021 showing steps towards adapting Digital Transformation and Technological Adaptation for any organisation. Source: TMC Report, page 24.

While all participating NGOs in the program confirmed their commitment, disparities in readiness for Technological Transformation and full engagement in the program were evident. Leadership buy-in is crucial for organizational change, particularly from the immediate leader (Executive Director), who then ensures alignment with the Board. However, not all leaders were able to dedicate time to participate, despite our efforts to provide a six-week advance calendar for preparation.

It’s observed that organizations with higher senior participation during sessions are more likely to undergo transformation promptly. Out of the 17 organizations assessed, 13 demonstrated a significant shift in mindset towards embracing the program’s objectives. However, three organizations showed no apparent change, indicating a lack of impact possibly stemming from a lack of commitment or seriousness towards the program. Additionally, one organization’s response remains uncertain, with potential for further evaluation to determine its level of engagement.

Test Scores on Technology Health Index (THI)

This is one of the digital services through our Digital Product, Compliance System Audit (CSA). THI tests the digital health of an organization. An organization achieving full technological integration would ideally score between 89% to 100% on the Technology Health Index (THI). The THI evaluates governance, service alignment with digital transformation, data security policies, backup and disaster recovery plans, as well as system software, hardware, and infrastructure. The assessment categorizes scores as follows: 0 – 30% as Inadequate, 31 – 50% as Below Average, 51% – 75% as Average, 76 – 85% as Above Average, and 86 – 100% as Excellent.

The highest scored 49% and the lowest scored, 8%. Among the surveyed organizations, a significant majority (14 out of 17) fell below the average or inadequate thresholds on the THI. This indicates a widespread deficiency in the adoption and utilization of digital health technologies across various sectors. A considerable number of organizations obtained scores below 20%, highlighting a substantial gap in their digital health capabilities. Such low scores may impede their ability to effectively leverage technology for operational efficiency, service delivery, and data management. These results accentuates the urgent need for organizations to prioritize and invest in digital health initiatives. By enhancing their technological infrastructure and capabilities, organizations can better position themselves to thrive in the digital era, driving efficiency and innovation across their operations.

The results are derived from a thorough examination of six critical sections, each addressing specific sides of digital health assessment: Part A focuses on Digital Policies and Guidelines, while Part B investigates into Formal Communication practices. Part C scrutinizes Digitalization, Visibility & Vulnerability, and Part D assesses Digital Devices/Assets. Additionally, Part E evaluates Programs and Campaigns, and Part F concentrates on Security – System, Incidents & People.

These customized digital audit reports, ranging between 40 to 43 pages for each organization, offer detailed insights into their digital health status, providing a comprehensive overview of strengths, gaps, and areas for improvement for each of the NGOs. These reports serve as invaluable guidelines for organizations embarking on the journey of Digital Transformation and Adaptation. Furthermore, each NGO has received these customized reports and has been granted a consultation session for feedback and guidance on their results. This support ensures clarity and offers assistance in charting the best path forward. It’s noteworthy that the majority of the provided results align with the capacity of each organization, fostering a constructive approach towards enhancing digital health capabilities.

The Strengths of the program
  • Comprehensive Approach

The program takes a comprehensive approach to empower NGOs, focusing on enhancing compliance, technology integration, and operational capabilities. By addressing multiple aspects simultaneously, it ensures a holistic improvement in NGO operations.

  • Diagnostic Assessments

The program starts with diagnostic assessments of participating organizations’ digital health, identifying strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. This tailored approach allows for targeted interventions and capacity-building efforts.

  • Tailored Training Sessions and Follow-up Support

Hands-on orientation and training sessions are conducted at each organization’s offices, providing customized guidance and practical training to enhance technology utilization and compliance. This personalized approach ensures relevance and effectiveness. The program includes follow-up sessions to review progress, address challenges, and reinforce key concepts covered during training. This ongoing support fosters continuous improvement and collaboration among participants.

  • Mindset Change, Commitment and Participation

The program aims to instill a mindset change towards embracing digital transformation and technological adaptation. Organizations that undergo a significant shift in mindset are more likely to embrace the program’s objectives and implement changes effectively. Also, despite challenges, a significant number of organizations demonstrate commitment and active participation in the program. The involvement of senior management is emphasized, ensuring decision-makers are engaged in the transformation process.

  • Technology Health Index and Detailed Audit Reports

The assessment of organizations’ technology health through the Technology Health Index provides valuable insights into their digital capabilities. This helps organizations identify areas for improvement and prioritize initiatives accordingly. The Audit reports provided organizations with detailed insights into their digital health status, including strengths, gaps, and improvement areas. Customized reports and consultation sessions facilitate clarity and guidance for future actions.

  • Proactive Application and Modular Framework

Recommendations that were provided to the organizations’ included proactive application for digital transformation programs, self-directed implementation for capable organizations. To enable this requires not only structure but also a modular framework for ICT policy as guideline. The suggestions were intended to promote proactive and flexible approaches to digital transformation and statutory compliance.

For more details and information about the Digital NGO Program, you can search the words “Digital NGO” on the TMC website and also visit the link – https://linktr.ee/digitalngo