|NGO Guidelines for Good Policy and Practice (Commonwealth Foundation)|
|Part I: NGOs: what they are and what they do|
|6. The governance and operation of NGOs|
Through networking and alliance-building, NGOs identify common interests and concerns, share information, provide support to each other and maximise the use of available resources to achieve common goals. They are in other words manifestations of co-operative strategies to improve the impact of NGO operations. Many NGO networks now exist at local, regional, national and international levels. The Third World Information Network (TWIN), the Third World Feminist Network, Developing Alternatives for Women of a New Era (DAWN), Disabled People's International (DPI), the International Debt Network and the Commonwealth Association for Local Action and Economic Development (COMMACT ) are examples of international ones. There are also international NGO networks associated with the United Nations Summits of the Environment, Population, Social Development and Women. International networking is increasingly linking NGOs in the North and the South on common issues.
There are also networks which link groups within international regions: the Caribbean People+s Development Agency (CARIPEDA) and the Caribbean Network for Integrated Rural Development (CNIRD) in the Caribbean, the African NGOs Self-reliance and Development Advocacy Group (ASDAG) in Africa, and the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs (PIANGO) in the Pacific are among them.
In the national arena networks such as the Community Business Movement in Britain, the Association of Voluntary Agencies for Rural Development (AVARD) in India, the Development Services Exchange (DSE) in Solomon Islands, the Association of NGOs - Aotearoa (ANGOA) in New Zealand, the Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA) in Uganda, and the Canadian Environmental Network are just a few examples of the many networks linking NGOs generally, or those involved in different specialist fields. There are also networks active, both nationally and internationally, in such fields as health, education, and people with disabilities. At all levels of their operation, the revolution in international telecommunications and information-sharing, through the internet and information super-highway, is presently enormously increasing the extent and impact of NGO networks.
Funders are acknowledging the value of NGO networks, just as international agencies are recognising them through admitting them to international fora. While they are not confined to NGOs involved in advocacy for change, alliance-building and networks are proving to be effective for such purposes, notably when the networks extend beyond NGOs to link them with other organisations. Networking and collaborative relationships between NGOs and the private sector are growing in a number of countries, and there is no better recent example of the value of networking links between NGOs and other organisations than what was achieved over the issue of apartheid in South Africa.