Tools and Technology to Support Your Business Association
Many new information and communication technologies (ICT) are available and accessible for business membership organizations (BMOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These new developments in ICT have increased the volume and speed of information sharing, and can help the efficiency of organizational operations.
CIPE compiled online and mobile-based tools, tips, and strategies that may benefit CIPE partners and others. The tools are divided into four categories: advocacy, financial management, organizational governance, and membership development and services.
To most effectively use an ICT tool, it is important to first consider the tech environment in which your business membership organization operates:
- What are the main mediums for reaching your targets?
- How comfortable are your targets with using these mediums? Are they easily accessible?
- How does connectivity, reach, and reliability influence these mediums?
To help your organization target its approach, consider which of the following examples best applies to your own organization’s circumstances:
- Organization A: As well as poor internet, mobile data, GSM connectivity, Organization A had issues with security and safety. Despite this, it wanted to build a secure network for their 200+ member groups. Three areas of focus were security and encryption – it expressed direct need for security and encryption in their technology use; communication – although significant online presence and social media use, wanted to expand that capacity to further building network; and data collection and dissemination – wanted to increase capacity to efficiently disseminate information to their network.
- Organization B: A low bandwidth environment, access to connectivity, tools, as well as funding were and are key challenges for Organization B. Given the greater access and usage of mobile phones in this organization’s region, it wanted to develop mobile training programs for its staff and the women they work with on the ground. Thus three areas of focus were mobile training – looking for opportunities to develop training programs through mobile platforms for their staff and for their community; mobile communication – wanted to develop capacity for communicating via mobile through freely available tools and technologies; and mobile data collection and research – wanted greater capacity along with mobile communication to collect data and disseminate to community.
- Organization C: Facing limitations such as low bandwidth and expensive and government-owned internet, Organization C gravitated towards SMS and voice-based activities. They expressed a primary interest in mobile surveys and mobile data collection. The three key areas of focus for Organization C were secure mobile communication – a desire to develop capacity for communicating securely via mobile through freely available tools and technologies; mobile data collection and research – looking for capacity along with mobile communication to collect data and disseminate to community; and mobile networking – to build off mobile communication, they expressed a need for mobile networking opportunities via freely available tools or social media.
- Organization D: While Organization D had intermittent yet generally satisfactory connectivity, its access to and familiarity with technology and applications was limited. Advocacy efforts primarily involved voice (phone or internet telephony) and marginal social media, such as Facebook groups. Organization D also expressed an interest in professional development (e-learning) opportunities and online research training. Thus the three key areas of focus for Organization D were collaboration and consultation – offering legal research for its members, staying abreast of legislative changes and the ability to communicate those changes efficiently; research and data collection – no to low-cost technology to research and then compile data in an organized manner; and professional development and learning – resources to build capacity of staff.
CIPE and consultant Panoply Digital also created a series of digital training videos covering Google Forms, Search Alerts, WordPress, BulkSMS, SMS Poll, and Canva, accessible here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=godTCye8TQ0&feature=youtu.be&list=PLIZI5-RXmq2l9B4MTZG0GjGHWV-qw2BPb.