The need for improved ICT capacity in NGOs is more pronounced given the shift to work-from-home or remote work. While there are free or very affordable applications, navigating through the options and technical support is much needed yet most NGOs cannot afford a dedicated ICT staff.
What commonly happens in NGOs is that ICT tasks are assigned to someone who has better ICT competencies until the role is assumed permanently out of necessity or forced by circumstances. This new role is on top of what the person was hired for. They are often called accidental techies. I started like this while working in a local NGO until I decided to take on ICT as a profession.
From businesses to NGOs
A remote or virtual staff provides services vital to a business but works off site, usually at home, within your location or in another country. This work arrangement has been adopted to improve productivity while reducing costs. Take for example the Virtual Assistants who started by doing mundane tasks but increasingly taking on critical business functions. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies thrive on this.
Consider a consultant that your NGO hires for a one-off project such as a researcher or someone retained to do specialized tasks, e.g. an accountant. Essentially a similar output-based arrangement, but a remote staff usually fills in multiple functions and is treated much like any other staff.
Today, companies will easily hire individuals with highly-specialized skills from remote locations as the remote work arrangement allows attracting top talents as well. I personally have been part of remote-only technology companies working with colleagues from different time zones.
There are NGOs already availing services of virtual assistants and other remote workers. While companies have been organized to provide these services specifically to NGOs.
With a Remote ICT Staff, your NGO gets the expertise and experience without the costs of having a full-time ICT staff. Prior experience working in companies can bring in new and valuable capacities such as digital marketing to support fundraising; customer relationship management for dealing with beneficiaries, funding partners or advocacy targets; or leveraging social media for issue advocacy. Given a Remote ICT Staff with adequate management experience, your NGO will be in a position to strategically initiate a digital transformation process to use ICTs not only to improve productivity but most importantly to increase impact.
Will you consider a Remote ICT Staff in your NGO?