Informing an Uncertain Future
In the last 5 years, the world has experienced an unprecedented series of layered crises that have vastly complicated the path to accomplishing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The world, and particularly nation states, multilateral agencies, and global nonprofits are being forced to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, disasters amplified in magnitude by the effects climate change, and resource constraints derived from widespread debt crises. Thus, the remaining decade of action to reach the SDGs exists within a turbulent context made more complex by system entropy. In the midst of this, humanitarian and conservation stakeholders are expected to maintain focus on achieving the 17 SDGs in the countries and communities where they work, with the aim to restore or even increase the wellbeing of people and planet alike. Globally, in an effort to combat instability and uncertainty (and to drive efficiency) there is yearning for a ‘single source of truth’ to steer humanity’s efforts forward through this turbulence, however, a lack of information certainty instead creates conditions that allow for polarization and harm. For nonprofits this need to push towards greater clarity and information certainty is expressed in their internal operations (for example data driven decision making, cohesive and relational information architectures, and collaborative knowledge sharing), and in their external programmatic approaches (for example mitigating misinformation and disinformation within the communities they work with, enhancing fundraising and campaign engagement using statistics, and monitoring and evaluation analyses that drive accountability and transparency on the efficacy of their programs).
In this challenging time with no universal solution, every little step toward impact acceleration and maximization counts. There is especially hope that in the 4th industrial revolution, the areas of technology and digitalization can make a lasting difference. With this guiding belief, NetHope’s Center for the Digital Nonprofit (CDN) sponsors have enabled the NetHope’s Strategic Alignment Initiative for the 2030 SDGs. Working with humanitarian stakeholders around the world, NetHope set forth to develop a strategic landscape assessment containing three major components:
- an overview of the NetHope Member nonprofits strategic plans and digital development pathways,
- situational context from the ICT capabilities of countries and governments, and
- the product/solution roadmaps from corporate technology partners.
Together, these three components culminate in NetHope’s strategic alignment framework. While the focus of this white paper is on the first component (i), this entire framework is being used to guide NetHope Member engagement, solutions development of engaged technology partners, and to develop recommendations for future program development over the next decade. However, it was through this first round of strategy analysis that NetHope was able to establish the broad strategic intent of its membership. Thereby shining light on how humanitarian organizations are pursuing greater impact through leveraging digitalization.