Money is always an issue… regardless of the scale of an NGO, money is one of the sore point (well, the same goes for everything we do…). So whether we are talking of a big-recognised-international NGO, a small-new-local NGO/CBO, or anything in between, access to funding is a necessity.
But not for everything… one of the common attitude that I have encountered is that a lot of people are expecting money to come their way for a project to improve their conditions, especially coming from Westerners.
I believe that this is unfortunately an attitude that we have fostered over time by “just giving”. We see a need, we devise a solution, we come and build something or give something and then we go. As I mentioned in another article, local people do not necessary see it as their project or their building. Once the NGO is gone, they do not necessarily continue the work, maintain the facilities or even use them. Or they don’t know how to maintain or repair. And the downside is that they just come to expect that when things are going down, a NGO (the same or another) will come and fix it again or start over again.
Part of our vision is that people can actually do a lot themselves. They can learn what they don’t know, but in many instances, people do know… they often lack the good will and the motivation for effort… they do not see their capabilities/potential. Somehow, this is also just going the “easy way”: if I wait long enough, someone will do it…
And we are trying to educate them on ownership of their project (and possibly their future), on taking actions and responsibilities for making things happen. Money is not all that is needed to start changing things. No matter how much money we can bring, if there is no good will and effort, there is no long term success. And it starts with getting this concept across: help yourself to grow.
This is a change in what people have been used to so far – and it does take time for people to grasp the idea that they can actually do something themselves. But I can start to see the changes. That people are getting things into their hands. That they start to work on a solution with what they have. Slowly but surely, motivation and confidence are finding their ways and local projects can be locally owned. At individual or community level.
For me, this is maybe the biggest challenge that some local communities or individuals (whether coming together as CBOs or not) do face: getting things into their own hands, relying on themselves rather than others in achieving changes in their conditions… And this is in turn the biggest work that we are trying to achieve: getting people to own their conditions, even in less affluent settings.
Disclaimer: this is not true for all… a lot of communities or individuals have come together as CBOs and rely on themselves, achieving a lot through their efforts – but some that we are helping are those who are struggling to see this side of (self)help – hence why we only talk about it and not the successful ones that we did/do not help… Also, this does not take into account those that we start helping and are willing… this is the other side of the coin only…