The Public Interest Registry team attended the recent InterAction Forum, June 20-22 in Washington, D.C. The organization is an alliance of global NGOs working for the betterment of vulnerable people around the world and each year hosts a mighty gathering of change leaders from different industries to discuss trends, themes and solutions related to global humanitarian issues.
This year’s “United We Stand” theme was woven through many elements of the event as well as one special announcement – the addition of seven new members to the InterAction Board of Directors, including Public Interest Registry CEO Brian Cute. Brian, already a humanitarian activist through personal and professional endeavors, brings a great deal of experience working with global communities to affect positive change.
“With diverse backgrounds, yet united through a collective interest to help communities around the world thrive, the InterAction Board of Directors is truly a leading force for change and I’m honored to join this team,” said Cute. “I’ve spent many years using my experience with technology to advocate for all types of nonprofit organizations, and alongside my InterAction colleagues I look forward to amplifying this effort.”
For those who were unable to attend this year’s InterAction event, our team has compiled below insights and takeaways from its attendance at select InterAction Forum plenary and breakout sessions. More about the InterAction Board of Directors and its new members can be found on the organization’s website.
United We Stand
This opening session was a wonderful kick-off to the 2017 InterAction Forum and set the tone for overarching themes of global connectivity, collaboration and working together “in the global fight to eliminate extreme poverty and vulnerability, strengthen human rights and citizen participation, safeguard a sustainable planet, promote peace, and ensure dignity for all people.” Remarks of note from former U.S. President Clinton included a reminder to attendees that we – global citizens – are “stuck with one another.” With this, he urged a collaborative and positive mindset to maximize the benefits and minimize the dangers that come with this most interdependent age in human history. The full speech can be watched here.
The Human Side of Technology
The Wednesday morning plenary session brought together four innovative leaders to present opportunities and challenges of using new technology to address community needs. The session’s overarching takeaway was the need to identify the potential problems technology innovations present, in order to avoid them. One of the session’s panelists, Ann Mei Chang, former chief innovation officer and executive director of U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID, offered what she called “guideposts” to consider if your organization is exploring a new technology
- First identify the problem you’re trying to solve
- Next identify the expertise needed to be successful
- Engage in testing of the technology early and often
- Remember that technology is not a reason to do something, yet a potential solution
- Finally, think collaboratively – How will a new technology or process affect the world around you?
Coalitions: The Good, the Bad and the Effective
This breakout session discussed the essential elements that make coalitions successful and included examples of how have others have overcome the hurdles of funding, leadership, and time commitment. While most examples included large, membership organizations there was a clear takeaway that can be implemented by any size organization building a collation – demonstrate clear, simple and constant communication. We thought one of the best examples of this actionable takeaway was the Global Handwashing Partnership, which clearly asks for others to join them in spreading a simple message – the importance of handwashing with soap around the world.
Aid Workers as Storytellers: Capturing Content in the Field
According to this breakout session, “social media has been a game-changer in the humanitarian sector.” Your Public Interest Registry team couldn’t agree more, but we also know that not everyone in an expert in content creation. We found this session informative as team members from Americares and Save the Children provided actionable takeaways on capturing content in real time. Here are three key takeaways to remember:
- It’s the intersection of action, emotion and context that make for a good image.
- A video doesn’t have to look “produced” to be effective, but with a little pre-planning you can capture engaging content that is real and authentic.
- Recording audio experiences and sounds can be just as effective at providing context as a visual image.
Data Use and Uptake in the Modern NGO
Our team enjoyed this breakout session as instead of addressing how to collect data, it focused on the critically important theme of what to do with the data your organization collects. All panelists emphasized that the data an organization collects must be actionable and beneficial not only to the organization but its donors and end users. It was also emphasized that full staff buy-in, including board members and donors, should be obtained for data collection strategies. Another important consideration is using your data to tell a story. Try putting a face to your data by highlighting constituents to hone in on the impact you’re making and cultivate engagement around your mission.
If you attended InterAction and have additional thoughts to share, we’d love to hear them! Tweet us at @PIRegistry.