The Asia–Pacific NGO Digital Transformation Project: Building a Tech-Enabled Future for NGOs
This article is published in collaboration with Infoxchange.
Nongovernment organizations (NGOs) play a key role in delivering vital programs and services to people in need across Asia and the Pacific. However, their efforts to help advance sustainable development and prosperity among vulnerable groups are hampered as many struggle to effectively leverage digital technology and have little capacity to undertake digital transformation.
Amid this scenario, Google.org, the philanthropy arm of Google, supported not-for-profit social enterprise Infoxchange, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), as a strategic and outreach partner, launched the Asia–Pacific NGO Digital Transformation Project to bolster NGOs’ digital skills and capabilities in cybersecurity, data analytics, system automations, service delivery innovation, communications, and artificial intelligence.
According to the United Nations’ 2023 Technology and Innovation Report, years of efforts toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals are being lost due to the social and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. More than two-thirds of those forced into poverty worldwide by the pandemic are living in South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific.
Google.org Asia–Pacific Head Annie Lewin said the program would have a transformative impact. “We aim to solve some of humanity’s biggest challenges by combining funding and technical expertise to support underserved communities and nonprofits. We believe their work has the potential to produce scalable, meaningful change.”
Infoxchange CEO David Spriggs highlighted the urgency of building digital capabilities for nonprofits. “We intend, through this program, to support organizations in resolving critical issues they currently face while showcasing their unwavering strength and perseverance during times of uncertainty. It has never been more important for nonprofits to build their digital capabilities and resilience,” he said.
Infoxchange and NGO technology consultancy TechSoup Asia–Pacific will lead the initiative with the help of regional civil organizations.
Tracking NGOs’ impact
Findings from Infoxchange’s APAC NGO Digital Capability Report found that only half of surveyed NGOs felt confident in their ability to use technology to leverage digital tools effectively. This lack of digital readiness has made it difficult for organizations to secure funding and deliver services effectively, hindering their development and sustainability efforts, and decreasing the number of individuals they can support.
The report also highlighted the growing cybersecurity threats faced by nonprofits in the region. Approximately one in six organizations experienced a cybersecurity incident in the past 12 months. Indonesia is particularly vulnerable, reporting one in three. The lack of cybersecurity measures and infrastructure poses serious risks to sensitive data and hampers organizations’ ability to operate securely.
The report also found that more than 60% of organizations do not have a sufficient system to track, analyze, and understand their impact.
How will the program work?
Infoxchange will be leading two components of the program, including a coaching component and a webinar aimed at helping NGOs bolster their digital capabilities, building skills in four areas:
- Nonprofit cloud collaboration, selection, migration, and support;
- Data capture and analysis to track and improve impact;
- Digital marketing techniques to attract funding;
- Cybersecurity protection to keep data and employees safe.
The webinar is open to any organization in the region looking to scale their impact and improve their technology capabilities.
The second component is a coaching program for 45 NGOs. The program will include:
- Individualized digital capability assessments: Each participating NGO will undergo comprehensive assessments to identify their technological strengths and weaknesses.
- Tailored roadmaps and coaching: Based on the assessments, roadmaps will be developed, guiding the organizations on their digital transformation journey, supported by personalized coaching.
- Training on emerging technologies: NGOs will receive training on various emerging technologies, data analytics, service delivery innovation, information security, and digital marketing to enhance their digital capabilities and create more impact.
- Addressing local challenges: The program will take into account the unique challenges faced by different countries and communities, ensuring effective implementation and sustainable outcomes.
Participants include India’s Cyber Peace Foundation and the Self-Employed Women’s Association, Viet Nam’s Center for Family Health and Community Development and Netsafe, Māori-led TupaToa of New Zealand, the Alannah and Madeline Foundation and Sacred Heart Mission of Australia, OpenmindProjects Foundation and the Childline Thailand Foundation of Thailand, Indonesia’s Edu Farmers International, Mandai Nature of Singapore, Haribon Foundation of the Philippines, and more.
Receive updates on the APAC NGO Digital Transformation Project and get webinar invites, insights, and resources covering cybersecurity, digital marketing, and AI capabilities, through the program’s newsletter here. Learn more about the webinar series here.