Should Your NGO Go Open Source?

Catherine Cheney | Devex | February 26, 2016

The open source model of universal access and collaborative intelligence has extended from Web development to global development. NGO leaders can maximize the impact of their organizations either by taking their models to scale or opening the books on their projects and programs and allowing peer organizations to take them and run with them.

Whether proprietary information belongs in the business of fighting poverty is open to debate. On one hand, intellectual property can drive competition and innovation, but on the other hand, collaborative models can lead to greater success stories. The U.S.-based international NGO Pact has spearheaded a new effort — Locus — to address the knowledge gap around which interventions work best to tackle increasingly complex global development challenges. So far, Locus has engaged ten additional partners to identify shared approaches and eliminate funding silos.

“We recognize if what we truly want is a better model for development, the answers are found in each of our organizations, a range of funders, and across geographies,” Molly Derrick, external relations officer at Pact, told Devex. Although Locus is a new model for collaboration among organizations that are working toward the same end, it is not the only initiative driving the conversation among global development organizations about what they should consider before they go “open source.”...