NGO Coordination Body Membership

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NGO Coordination Body Membership


When initially forming an NGO coordination body, the number of NGOs involved may be relatively small, and grow over time. In other cases, clear criteria for membership may be deliberately established, thus limiting the membership of the coordination body. 

There are good reasons for being inclusive or exclusive when deciding on the membership of an NGO coordination body. Guiding criteria may include:

  • The focus of the NGO coordination body;

  • The kind of impact and role it wishes to have;

  • Expectations of members;

  • Common interest;

  • The need for confidentiality or protected space. 

However, without transparency about those reasons, the NGO coordination body risks coming under criticism for being elitist or exclusive.

A clear and agreed process regarding membership and clear criteria for becoming a member agency are necessary. Some coordinating bodies develop a commitment code or set of requirements for members. This clarifies explicit demands of member agencies and their role in the coordinating body to ensure: that membership gains maximum benefit; that it is clear that organisations (not individuals) have committed; what those commitments are; and that members hold each other accountable. A set of steps and systems for mutual accountability among members can be useful.

It may also be useful to consider that not all member NGOs are equal, and some NGOs may not be willing or able to contribute equally. This can be influenced by:

  • The size of the organisation and their staffing levels;

  • Their institutional commitment or mandate with relation to coordination;

  • The capacity of their staff and location of their program;

  • The length of their history or establishment in the country.

Many NGOs may choose to be passive members, which is not necessarily a negative, as their presence alone can be an effective form of collaboration.