The SANGONeT Portal: First Quarter Review

Tuesday, 31 January, 2006 - 00:00

It’s just over three months since the launch of this portal on World Development Information Day 2005 and a fitting time to take stock of our impact.Let’s look at the numbers first.

It’s just over three months since the launch of this portal on World Development Information Day 2005 and a fitting time to take stock of our impact.

Let’s look at the numbers first. More than 38,000 Visitors came to the portal in the months leading to the end of January, viewing a total of 378,000 pages.

In spite of the sluggish post holiday start to the New Year, 14,195 people visited the portal in the month of January alone. We are extremely honoured by the attention paid to the portal and see this growing interest as a validation of our efforts.

Moreover, our weekly alerting service, NGO Pulse, which is released every Tuesday and intended to inform subscribers about new postings on the portal, has attracted 2,793 subscribers. This number is increasing on a weekly basis.

It is interesting to note that at least 30% of the hits received by the portal, originate from international sources. Our sophisticated web tracking software tracks their "key word" searches and reveals that these are not just accidental tourists, but people looking for information about NGOs and development.

This interest in the portal places a great deal of pressure on us to populate all sections urgently. However, by its very nature, the defining feature of a portal is its organically evolving nature which depends on external partnerships and information that constantly influence its form and content. Accordingly, we appeal for your patience as we proceed in a consciously reflective and receptive manner. Our goal is to provide the foundation for the growth of all the portal’s sections by the time SANGONeT’s ICTs for Civil Society Conference takes place in March 2006.

In addition, the outcome of our January online poll has produced surprising results - both from a participation and results perspective. A disappointing 47 people participated in the poll that sought to interrogate views about the so-called NGO donor funding crisis.

• 48.9% of respondents argued that there is no donor funding crisis, NGOs at risk of closure are those that are poorly managed and lacking in strategic focus. 
• 25.5% argued that the donor funding crisis will continue but NGOs will adapt becoming more focused to survive in a restrained financial environment. 
• 19.1% argued that the donor funding crisis will continue and more NGOs will close.
• 6.4% believed that donor funding will increase bringing much relief to the NGO sector. 

Clearly, more than half of our respondents believe that the NGO sustainability problem is not funding related, but management related. Also, a small percentage of these particular poll-takers are unusually optimistic about donor support in the immediate future.

While I would venture to say that the issue of NGO management and governance begs some attention, this outcome tends to go against the grain of our experience on the ground, which suggests that shifting global priorities and a variable development terrain also affects the nature of donor support, even diminishing it. Should you wish to comment on this issue, do send a letter to the portal’s editor.

Take our February poll that seeks to shed some light on perceptions about the significance of NGOs having an online presence. Do you think websites are a vital component of NGOs’ communications strategies?

Finally, do peruse our Letters to the Editor and Weekly Whinge sections that have recently received a reasonable amount of commentary about the local NGO sector and related development issues. We thank you for your inputs and trust that you will continue to use the SANGONeT portal to engage in discussion and debate.

Fazila Farouk - editor@sangonet.org.za.

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