Letter from the President

Dear Colleagues,

While developing InterAction’s new 2015-2018 Strategic Plan, we reflected on two critical questions: (1) What is the change we seek? (2) What is the role of U.S. NGOs, and in particular InterAction, in creating this change? As emerging economies increasingly have the capacity to help their nation’s poor, our role is routinely questioned.

Sustainable development is ultimately locally-driven by private businesses and government institutions, and shaped by civil society organizations. To some, our job as international nonprofits is to generate local capacity, pack up, and go home. But this is a limiting idea.

Isolated local civil society organizations are no match for multinational corporations and multilateral institutions. U.S. NGOs partnered with civic groups from the global South must work across borders to develop a strong civil society infrastructure that advocates for vulnerable populations and people living in the world’s poorest places.

The success that can be achieved through coordination and partnerships across civil society organizations is evident. Through InterAction member collaboration and outreach, the Water for the World Act was signed into law in December 2014 – providing funding for millions of people around the world to gain access to safer drinking water and sanitation facilities.

During the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in history, over 30 InterAction members rapidly mobilized to join forces with local people in providing immediate lifesaving assistance – while also mitigating the broader effects of the crisis on local economies and on food security in West Africa. Members successfully halted U.S. government proposals that would have impeded NGOs’ courageous efforts to combat Ebola. Collectively, local people and governments, NGOs, and international institutions found creative solutions and drastically reduced the number of cases – saving thousands of lives and paving the road to recovery.

To continue and increase collaboration, InterAction is helping members share their information on individual projects through the NGO Aid Map. The map allows NGOs to view projects worldwide, identify potential partners, and leverage resources, while also creating a greater collective impact.

As U.S. NGOs, our role is not to “work ourselves out of business.” A strong, vibrant global civil society infrastructure is critical to achieving development goals. Collectively, we must form a strong voice that can compete with other global interests. Instead of solely focusing on our individual projects, we must work across thematic sectors and blur the line between Northern and Southern civil society toward a global, united voice for change. To make the greatest positive impact, we must evolve to the changing development ecosystem and work together. 

Samuel A. Worthington
President and CEO