To Improve Human Wellbeing, It's Time to Get Serious About Transparency

Community and collective action matter. The dream is for all civil society organizations to look beyond their individual projects and work collectively to advance human wellbeing everywhere.

To make this vision a reality, it is imperative for all civil society organizations, and this includes U.S. NGOs, to share information about their projects with all potential partners. At the click of a button, a foundation in San Francisco should be able to view all the health-related projects by governments, international NGOs, and local civil society organizations from Jakarta, Indonesia to Morogoro Region, Tanzania. We must become more transparent.

InterAction’s contribution to transparency is the NGO Aid Map—a comprehensive map that visually displays development and humanitarian relief projects in almost every country. Since its launch in 2010, 115 InterAction members have shared information about over 14,000 projects, collectively worth $14.5 billion. Civil society partners, private businesses, governments, and individuals can click on a project and learn more about its activities, goals, how it is funded, and, in some cases, the number of people reached. 

While this is an impressive effort, the picture we have of our global community is incomplete. To make this data universally available to those beyond the InterAction community, we recently published it to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). IATI is the international standard for organizations, donors, and governments throughout the world to report on their projects in support of development. 

As we applaud members for taking the first steps in helping create a more transparent world, we must remember that our vision does not stop here. To ensure that all NGO data is accessible to partners and donors worldwide, it is critical for all organizations to align with international standards such as IATI. 

We cannot end poverty, inequality, and hunger in the next 30 years alone. If we put data into the hands of those we seek to work with and influence, the door widens for partnerships and strategic collaborations aimed to create a better future. That’s our dream, and we encourage all civil society organizations to join us in fulfilling it. This month I challenge you to ask yourselves, how is your organization contributing to transparency and aligning with international standards? How can we truly contribute to a collective impact that matters?

Follow Samuel A. Worthington on Twitter: @SamInterAction

Follow NGO Aid Map on Twitter: @NGOAidMap

Explore the NGO Aid Map