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NGO Training. Theresa Morrow Bill Ristow April 7, 2014 Maendeleo Foundation Training Centre. Telling your NGO’s story – compellingly!. Good writing: Helps the reader identify with the subject Helps them see the real people you are helping Puts a face with a story

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Ngo training

NGO Training

Theresa Morrow

Bill Ristow

April 7, 2014

Maendeleo Foundation Training Centre

Telling your ngo s story compellingly

Telling your NGO’s story – compellingly!

Good writing:

  • Helps the reader identify with the subject

  • Helps them see the real people you are helping

  • Puts a face with a story

  • Lets the community use their own words

Ngo training

Show, don’t tell

  • Look around: What sounds do you hear? What colors are in the room? What can you see that makes you understand the person better?

  • Pay attention to what your senses are capturing, think about which of those things help tell the story – and use them

  • Telling:

    “Forrest Whitaker’s life changed when he played Idi Amin.”


    “Forrest Whitaker’s forehead wrinkled into a frown as he struggled to describe how his portrayal of Amin affected him.”

More examples

More examples

  • AcanGrace seems to float when she moves despite the fact that she is usually toting her one-year-old twins.

  • The giraffe looked down at me, his big brown eyes as calm as the savannah evening.

Make your story come alive

Make your story come alive

  • What does she FEEL about her situation?

  • How old is she?

  • Whereis she from, and what is it like there?

  • What does her little house look like? Does it flood in the rain? How many people sleep there?

  • How many other childrendoes she have?

  • What color are the clothes that she is wearing?

  • What is her hairstylelike?


More writing tips

More writing tips

  • Your story has a purpose

    • Show the problem OR

    • Show the cause OR

    • Show the impact OR

    • All three

  • Words that paint a picture: She makes necklaces in the beautiful colors of the earth.

  • Use activeverbs rather than passive:

    He burst into the room NOT He had entered the room

  • Short sentences

  • Use contrast

  • Make it CLEAR. If it is a complicated issue, illustrate it with people

And mostly:


& have someone else read it

Let them speak for themselves

Let them speak for themselves

  • “BeadforLifebrushed the dust off my soul.”

  • “There was so much excitement during the Mobile Solar Computer Classroom training at our library, and so many people flocked to the library with eagerness to continue with their computer skills. With Maendeleo’s help we now have 10 laptops connected to the internet and are able to provide valuable information to our library users and researchers.”

  • -- Daniel Ahimbisibwe, a librarian at Kitengesa Community Library

When you are talking about something big, start small.

Your people file

Your “people” file

  • Collect quotes and visual material for proposals, annual reports, PR, etc.

  • Interview the people you are helping to get their testimonials – and emotions

  • YOU CAN’T HAVE ENOUGH of these things!*

    *BUT make sure it is relevant to your project – and tell the people how you are going to use it

Now try it again

Now, try it again

  • Go back to your earliest memory

  • Write about it again, using “show, don’t tell”

    • What was happening around you?

    • How did you FEEL when it happened?

    • Make me SEE the memory

Documenting your project

Documenting your project

  • Concept note

    Summary of who you are, what your project is, and why it’s important

    2. Annual report

    Market your NGO

1 concept note or paper

1. Concept Note (or Paper)

  • What does it include?

    • Context statement – Organization description, no more than 300 words

    • Problem & rationale: What you are trying to solve and specific issues you will address

    • Project goals and objectives

    • Strategy or activities– How you are going to do it. The steps. And also the impact by the end.

    • Innovation & sustainability – What is different about this project and how will it continue?

    • Financials



  • Contacts

  • Context statement

  • Problem

  • Goals and objectives

  • Activities to reach objectives

  • Innovation and sustainability

  • Financials

  • Partnerships

P re reporting


  • Before writing, research your own organization!

    • Know your community – and their participation

    • Know your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)

    • Know your proposed budget – work it out

  • Know your donor!

    • Know your donor’s priorities and issues

    • Get the donor’s country strategy paper

    • Proposal guidelines

    • Previously funded projects & programmes

Context statement

Context statement


  • Anecdote – make it human!

  • Crisp description of organization

  • Be clear about your project proposal & its impact on the community

  • Hook them in – you are advertising your project

Context statement example

Context statement - example

Please give a brief description of your organization, including its vision, mission and date founded.

At a small library in the village of Busembatia, an elderly woman sits at a computer next to a secondary school student. Using local-language software, the student reads instructions from the screen to the woman, who starts to giggle and then develops a huge smile as she starts writing, using a simple Paint program. It is not only the first time she has seen a computer: it is the first time she has seen her name written out.

The mission of Maendeleo Foundation is to help bring the power of technology to the citizens of Uganda, a country where 87% of the people live in rural areas plagued with endemic poverty and only 9% of the total population has access to electricity. We overcome these challenges using an innovative mobile classroom, computers powered by solar energy, and our own teaching software, called emPower, that works with all 42 languages spoken in Uganda.

Presenting the problem

“With computer knowledge, I have hope for my future,” said Opio. “I want to be a doctor but I’ll never get to University if I am not computer literate.”

Presenting theProblem

  • Research

    • Country details: population, economy, etc.

    • Back-up info: Poverty statistics, employment, gender issues, HIV/AIDS stats, etc.

  • Definition

    • The cause and the effect

      Cause: No power in rural communities causes computer use to be inaccessible.

      Effect: Rural youth can’t get jobs, literacy slow,, etc.

    • Community perception of this problem – use “show, don’t tell!”

Goals and objectives

Goals and Objectives

  • Goal is broad purpose, objective specific and measurable

    • Goal: “Reducing the impact of natural disaster over communities belonging to the hilly region”

    • Objective: “Provide housing facilities to earthquake-affected victims”

      • Include location and time frame for objectives

Words in writing objectives

Words in writing objectives

Use these …

  • Decrease…

  • Increase…

  • Strengthen…

  • Improve…

  • Enhance…

Not these …

  • Train

  • Provide

  • Produce

  • Establish

  • Create

Writing about activities and results

Writing about activities and results

  • Activities are what you will do to accomplish the project objectives

  • Tip: Show that the community identified the activities – not just you

  • Use numbers or a chart so they can be tracked easily

  • Monitor, monitor, monitor

Results and impact

Results and impact

The resulthappens because of the activities:

  • Activity: “X number of women participating in training on gender development.”

  • Result: “X number of women aware of gender rights”

  • Impact: There will be less domestic violence …


Remember …

  • Stick to the donor requirements

  • Write a COMPELLING cover letter

    • Short – a preview of what you will prove

    • Use people affected

    • Show your impact

    • Demonstrate your innovative nature (not like anyone else)

    • Show sustainability

    • Be honest …

    • Use active verbs

Context statements a review

Context statements: A review

  • When you write your 300 word draft context statement

    • Make it human

    • Make it clear


Crisp description of organization

Clear about your project proposal & its impact on the community

2 annual reports

2. Annual Reports

  • Opportunity to build your brand

  • Advertises who you are

  • Demonstrates your accomplishments and your mission, your success and your vision

  • Use it to inspire new donors, and motivate current ones

  • Describe what you are doing, how well you are doing it, and the difference you are making in the world

Annual report includes

Annual Report Includes

  • Photos and captions

  • Description of organization (history, etc.)

  • Financial statements

  • Objectives & activities

  • Reports on achievements and performance

  • Memberships and partnerships

  • Press coverage

  • Donor recognition

Annual report make it human

Annual Report: Make it human

  • Do you present general summaries of your work? Or do you tell real stories about real people?

  • Do you have masses of tables and numerical comparisons? Or do you humanise your statistics with individual profiles and examples from ‘the field’?

Connect to the reader

Connect to the reader

  • Photos and captions

  • Letter from executive

Financials how the money was used

Financials: How the money was used

  • When reporting on fundraising the emphasis should be on how the money was used, not the detail of how it was raised.

Financials h ow it s spent

Financials: How it’s spent

Useful links

Useful links





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