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Reflections on My First 30 Days

There is tremendous support for NetHope and its mission. 

February 12, 2014

By Lauren Woodman

Much more quickly than I anticipated, my first month with NetHope has come to a close.  It has been an amazing month, filled with meetings with members, donors and partners.  Learning about the work that our members are doing – and how NetHope is supporting their missions – has been both humbling and inspiring.

Through these meetings, a number of common themes have emerged.  I spent a few minutes discussing these on the February member call, but wanted to provide a little more context around what I’ve heard.  No doubt, these themes, along with the priorities that the Board has established for me, will shape my work in the coming months.  And, no doubt, these themes will continue to develop as I continue to meet with members and our stakeholders in the coming month.  But here’s a recap of what I’ve heard to date:

There is tremendous support for NetHope and its mission.  NetHope members believe strongly in collaboration, and feel strongly that through collaboration and sharing best practices they can better fulfill their respective missions.   Through the Summit, the working group calls and both the formal and informal networking, members believe that their NetHope-facilitated interactions with one another help their organizations operate more effectively, more efficiently and with greater impact.

Members are excited for the future of NetHope.  Most members believe that technology will continue to have an important impact on development around the world.  As the use of technology moves from automating processes to reshaping possibilities for programs, members see NetHope as the right venue to explore ideas for technology-transformed development.  And as NGO leadership and the donor community increasingly see the use of technology as an asset — not overhead — NetHope is well positioned to shape and lead this critical discussion. 

Supporters and donors see NetHope as a meaningful way to engage with leading NGOs.  For most of our technology partners, navigating the NGO world can be confusing and, at times, disjointed.  But through NetHope, our supporters and donors have an open communication channel to the world’s leading NGOs.  As the policies and priorities of supporters and donors evolve, NetHope is the natural place for our supporters and partners to turn.

We have a good suite of programs.  The scope of work that NetHope is doing in partnership with its members is strong.  Whether training IT workers through the NetHope Academy or sharing costs through Shared Services, the programs that NetHope has in place provide a solid foundation from which our organization will continue to grow and thrive.  While members value programs differently, the rich menu of options for engagement allows NetHope to serve different constituencies with offerings that meet needs at the right time. 

The NetHope team is strong and full of good ideas.  Through my on-boarding process, I’ve been inspired by the conversations I’ve had with the Board who are eager to think broadly about the potential of the organization.  As I’ve begun to meet the staff and member representatives, this impression has continued; I’m impressed with the professionalism and creativity that each brings to the NetHope family.  It’s an incredible asset: as we move into building the future of NetHope, leveraging this experience and capitalizing on the great ideas I’ve heard will help us shape what NetHope looks like in the coming years.

In short, I’m excited about what is possible.  As our members continue to focus on having real, meaningful impact, technology continues to evolve and permeate every aspect of our sector.  There’s an accepted knowledge among our stakeholders that IT has fundamentally changed the nature of development, but we have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible.  If we can do this well, the impact can be awesome.

To do so, we will need to harness the enthusiasm and expertise of our members and partners as part of strategy refresh will allow us to build, together, the next future for NetHope.  Next month, I’ll have more details on that process and how members can be deeply engaged, but in the interim, I hope that you will begin to think about what you, and your organization, want NetHope to be in the coming years. 

In closing, let me simply say “thank you” for a remarkable first month. I look forward to what we will continue to accomplish as we move forward together.

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