On Friday, while Tom was busily angering and agitating our readers by singling out non-generic names of subscribers, I received a note from our friends at Daryl Upsall Consulting International in Madrid alerting us to a recently published list of  “The Top 100 Best NGOs in the world.

The list, published by The Global Journal leads off with the Wikimedia Foundation in the top spot and ends with the U.K.’s FareShare at #100. Lots and lots of familiar names in the list (with generic and non-generic names, Tom). See the full ranking here.

Whether you agree with the selection committee or not, it’s sure worth noting the methodology used. Guiding the selection according to The Global Journal’s editors were qualitative metrics focused on these 8 traits:

  • INNOVATION.  Creativity in programming/fresh approaches to old problems.
  • EFFECTIVENESS. Delivery against objectives/quality of external evaluations.
  • IMPACT.  Outcomes over inputs/wider flow-on effects/donor-driven vs. needs driven.
  • EFFICIENCY & VALUE FOR MONEY. Administrative overheads/coordination to avoid duplication.
  • TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY.  Level of reporting/participatory programming.
  • SUSTAINABILITY.  Enduring impact and relevance/problem-solving vs self-preserving.
  • STRATEGIC & FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT.  Consistency of funding/self-evaluation processes.
  • PEER REVIEW.  NGO and donor perceptions of sectoral ‘leaders’/awards and recognition.

I think these are splendid criteria and commend them to any donor, consultant, board or strategic planner charged with evaluating an organization.

What is even more splendid is how the selection shatters the tired, self-laudatory clichés that the ‘best’ NGOs are the big guys from the rich countries devoted to selflessly lifting up the world’s impoverished and downtrodden. So much for noblesse oblige.

From organizations that train rats to sniff out landmines in Mozambique, to using sub-titled Bollywood music videos to as a cheap and effective literacy tool, this list is jam-packed with evidence of massive innovation and change in the NGO world.

In fact, as the Report’s editors note, “One could argue there is a deep divide emerging: between the established organizations of Geneva and New York, and the youthful innovators pouring out of institutions like Stanford, MIT and Harvard – flush with new ideas and the drive to ensure they come to fruition.”

And just as pointedly , refusing to simply genuflect to the bright, young university crowd the editors also note, “That would sell short all those local NGOs — from Cairo to Rio — that in many ways are showing their better-resourced counterparts how to work effectively, sustainably, and in true partnership with the communities they call home.”

Check out the list, and even more rewarding, check out the Global Journal and its newsletter for a terrific view of what’s going on in our world.

Global Journal folks, you deserve a raise.


P.S. Let us know what you think of this ranking and its methodology? Who’s included that doesn’t deserve to be? Who’s been left out unfairly?

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