The World NGO Day Initiative wishes to create an official UN day for NGOs, with the aim of raising awareness of the many organizations working for good around the globe, inspiring people to become more actively involved in this sector and encouraging more collaboration between NGOs. Following our report from the World NGO Day Summit, held in London at the end of 2012, the Initiative has gathered pace, submitting a report to UNESCO and meeting with the President of the UNESCO-NGO Liaison Committee, Patrick Gallaud.
One important point that emerged from this meeting was the question of which date to choose. So how do you go about selecting the one day each year for a celebration of civil society organizations, foundations, charities and other NGOs around the globe? The process involves more thought than one might think.
Having originally picked 18 November, the Initiative is now considering whether another date might be more appropriate. Despite the fact that 18 November does not clash with any other international days, there are a surprising number of others within close proximity, including some high-profile events such as World AIDS Day. Autumn and winter were felt to be an important time for many NGOs, as they focus on raising funds, organize annual reports, or host conferences and events. However, this can also mean that NGOs are busy – with less time to think about organizing events, meeting with other organizations or planning how they can capitalize on increased awareness of the work they do. If World NGO Day is to create meaningful collaborations, those involved need to have time to dedicate to this.
It seems that we are continuously asking more of people working in this sector – more accountability, more transparency, more impact. More collaboration could be viewed as another demand on the time of already busy people. Yet, as Dan Corry of New Philanthropy Capital recently wrote in his post on Funding collaboration, collaborations can often help achieve greater impact. If charities should be proactively seeking ways to work with others so they can be more effective and reach more people, World NGO Day could be the starting point needed to generate those initial discussions.
So what date to choose? For a truly international day, input is needed from those involved with NGOs all around the world. Primarily based in Europe, the World NGO Day Initiative needs to engage with those from other regions to gain their input – another step along the road to effective global collaboration.
World NGO Day wants to start a global conversation. It seems the first question is: when is everyone free to talk?
Jenny Conrad is Communication & Circulation Officer at Alliance magazine.
The World NGO Day Initiative is keen to receive feedback on suggested dates for the international day and to hear from those involved with NGOs outside of Europe who would be interested in becoming Honorary Ambassadors. The Initiative’s Secretariat can be contacted by emailing email@example.com.