Humentum: Partnerships for Global Change

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July 17, 2017

Humentum: Partnerships for Global Change

By Tim Boyes-Watson

Global Director of Alliances and Advocacy Humentum

Humentum is all about collaboration and increasing the power of community. Mango, InsideNGO, and LINGOs have been collaborating for the last ten years, and it is a natural step for us to merge so we can further increase our reach and impact. Our most recent collaborative project has been the creation of the FMDPro, the first-ever international financial management qualification for progam staff in humanitarian and development work. The working group that developed the scope and content of FMDPro was drawn from our members and key stakeholders and included: international organizations; key network organizations like Bond; and local NGOs, including one from Syria. This demonstrates the power of bringing together a diverse group of organizations to work for a common purpose. We also worked closely and were supported by the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, which will be an important and strategic partner for Humentum in the future.

This focus on collaboration will be at the heart of Humentum’s strategy. Unlike many membership organizations, we will seek to attract a very diverse range of members and other partners rather than serving a particular constituency. The driver for membership will be about our mission and purpose, which is to advance operational excellence for social good. We are particularly keen to find ways that local organizations can become involved. To achieve this, we will develop partnerships with international membership organizations such as CIVICUS, ICVA, and the NEAR network, and also with national membership organizations across the world. We aim to increase the value that these membership organizations provide to their members in relation to operational excellence.

Humentum’s core membership activity will be convening groups of peers in similar roles in the different disciplines involved in operational excellence, like finance, HR, and IT. Our long-term aim is that everyone will have access to a community of peers, so that they can learn from each other and achieve higher standards of operational excellence. This will require us to keep developing our online community so that peers have a dedicated space to ask questions and find help and advice. We will also operate regional hubs which will work with local partners to organize events where peers can gather to discuss the key issues affecting their jobs and organizations.

Our advocacy will also be purpose-based and focused on finding ways to address the key challenges identified by our communities of peers. As Humentum becomes a truly global organization with stronger local reach, its influence on the funding community and international bodies will increase significantly. We expect our initial advocacy themes to be:

  • Creating more harmonized standards and practices in financial reporting to funders, due diligence of funding partners, and fair cost recovery.

  • Improving collaboration on fraud prevention, mitigation, and response.

InsideNGO and Mango have already been collaborating on developing international standards for due diligence of funding partners. We have developed a strategic partnership with the African Academy of Sciences and served on the Technical Steering Group of the new Good Financial Grant Practice (“GFGP”) standard that is now being piloted across Africa. Humentum will continue to support implementation and take-up of the GFGP standard and advocate for its adoption by key funders like USAID, DFID, and the European Commission as well as foundations. Humentum will also work with organizations like the Norwegian Refugee Council and ICVA that are seeking to improve funding practices through the Grand Bargain work streams that were agreed at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. The lack of donor harmonization and the complexity of compliance requirements is costing millions of dollars and wasting hundreds of thousands of hours of staff time across the world. These complex and overly onerous compliance requirements create a barrier to entry for local and national organizations seeking funding. The poor cost recovery practice of some funders also punishes smaller organizations who tend to have a higher percentage of central core costs. So Humentum will build on Mango and InsideNGO’s long campaign on cost recovery and help funders develop better policies and practices in providing fair cost recovery.

In terms of fraud, InsideNGO’s recent survey on fraud showed how important an issue this has become for both funders and those they fund. There is a lot of pressure on funders, especially those that use taxpayers’ money, to prevent fraud throughout the delivery chain and to act quickly and punitively when fraud is discovered. Antiterrorism and money laundering legislation is putting banks under pressure to carry out due diligence of the entire delivery chain as well. In recent years, we have seen how a single incidence of serious fraud can critically damage an organization’s reputation and threaten its viability. Humentum will work with partners to research and test innovative methods of preventing or reducing the risk of fraud. Humentum will also work with our members and other stakeholders to identify and share good practice in detection and deterrence of fraud.

Through building multiple communities of peers across the world and in local contexts, Humentum will accelerate sharing of good practice in ways that will also accelerate implementation. The diversity of these communities and the involvement of social enterprises, private sector organizations, and a range of partners will also create a fertile environment for innovation. Therefore, Humentum will need to be agile, adaptive, and open to fresh ideas and initiatives that emerge from the power of community and from our partners. We have a very exciting future, full of known and unknown challenges and opportunities. Our aim will be to increase the power that our community has to advance their operational excellence and perform to their full potential.

Please wish us luck, but even more importantly, collaborate with us. It is our willingness and ability to collaborate that truly generates the human momentum we need to create a more just and sustainable world with a thriving social sector. That is what most inspires me, and I feel very honored to be able to lead Humentum’s membership, partnership, and advocacy activities along the twisting pathway to that goal.  

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