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On being thankful (and hopeful) for 2020

As the new year inches closer, the strongest force unifying our work—and the work that lies ahead—continues to be collaboration.

December 18, 2019

Above: More than 600 members, partners, and funders attended the 2019 NetHope Global Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico in October. Photo by Gabrielle N. Reyes.

By Lauren Woodman, CEO, NetHope

It’s natural to anticipate the holidays and new year with both a sense of joy and a touch of apprehension. But as we head closer to 2020, I am greeting this new decade with a genuine sense of optimism. This optimism is due in great part to our shared experience at the recent Global Summit held in October, which brings together the community that makes up NetHope. Seeing and interacting with more than 600 of our members, tech partners, and funders gathered in Puerto Rico, a location where we worked collaboratively following Hurricane Maria, was inspiring and a testament to the incredible talents and dedication you all bring to helping those in need. 

The other aspect I enjoy about this time of the year is the opportunity to reflect upon the work we have all accomplished during 2019. I thank all the organizations and individuals who have worked diligently to help improve the human condition and the challenges we collectively face. It is because of you that we have moved the needle on addressing humanitarian, development, and conservation challenges.

"The strongest force unifying our work—and the work that lies ahead—continues to be collaboration."


Here is a small sampling of some of 2019’s achievements. I like to think of these not as isolated events, but as the building blocks for the coming year:

  • The 2019 Global Summit, our largest to date, showsNetHope’s value to nonprofits and continued growth. At the Summit, we welcomed three new nonprofit members: Fundación Panamericana Para El Desarollo (FUPAD), Operation Smile, and Right To Play. We also inducted two new NetHope Fellows and elected two new Board members into our ranks. Our strong, diversified Board of Directors, led by Farhan Irshad, COO of HIAS, is well-positioned to guide NetHope through this next phase of fostering and embracing what it means to be truly digital.
  • Much of the “heavy lifting” of NetHope’s work takes place through our six regional NetHope Chapters and four Working Groups which together directly address the challenges that face the sector. We also provided extensive learning opportunities through our NetHope Solutions Center, resources which include our popular webinar series which presented 39 programs attended by more than nearly 6,000 participants.
  • After Hurricane Dorian devastated the Bahamas on September 1, many of our members and partners responded quickly and NetHope followed, assessing needs and setting up nearly 50 connectivity hubs to allow members and other responders to coordinate assistance and give affected Bahamians the power to contact loved ones and gain access to resources. We also continued our work in Colombia, connecting 99 sites and thousands of people along the migration route, providing connectivity as a lifeline for displaced Venezuelans. These operations will expand to Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil in 2020 as the crisis continues.
  • NetHope has begun an ambitious program to provide technical field training in several regions around the world prone to destructive natural events. We utilize the technical expertise and generosity of our tech partners and their employees paired with the on-the-ground knowledge of our members to create simulation exercises that train, prepare, and deploy individuals in places and times where connectivity can aid in assistance.
  • Through NetHope’s Center for the Digital Nonprofit, we’ve made significant strides advancing digital transformation in the nonprofit sector. We launched the automated Digital Nonprofit Ability assessment (DNA), which analyzes where nonprofits stand and benchmarks them against their peers, offering a starting point for digital transformation. We introduced the Digital Skills Framework (DSFW) and Technical Literacy learning tracks, an online resource library to boost the digital skills of nonprofit employees. Fifteen NetHope members have embarked on the IDEA Journey, a social impact accelerator, which stands for Imagine, Design, Execute, and Assess. In addition, we launched the campaign #FundDigital4Good, a significant effort to educate funding organizations that tech is not overhead, but a necessary component for large-scale mission impact by the nonprofit sector.

As the new year inches closer, the strongest force unifying our work—and the work that lies ahead—continues to be collaboration. Our efforts in 2020 will further incorporate digital into the workflow of our member organizations, better informing their work to enable them to scale up the impacts of their efforts. And our disaster preparation program will host more trainings in the Middle East and beyond, better preparing us for response by building capacity, pre-positioning equipment, establishing stable disaster funding, addressing the implementation gap, and developing a roster of trained individuals in those areas with frequent incidences of natural disasters.

Along with our shared belief in the power of technology to advance our missions, NetHope and its consortium of nearly 60 nonprofit members and 60+ tech and funding partners are undertaking work that inspires us to “do good better” and to be smarter, more efficient, and more effective, to help those most in need.

We are honored to have all of you—whether you are a member, tech partner, institutional partner, or somewhere in the NetHope universe of supporters and professionals—engaged in this work, serving as integral parts of NetHope, as we begin a challenging, but promising and hopeful, new decade.

We believe this work and its collaborative spirit provides a powerline for our member organizations and a lifeline for the most vulnerable. If this inspires you, please consider continuing your support.

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