What’s new with RINGO?

Last week the RINGO team launched Phase 2 of its systems change work to reimagine the INGO! We shared our emerging strategy at an Open House session with nearly 200 people interested to hear about our emerging plans. It was an opportunity for us to share what we collectively achieved in the past two and half years, and, most importantly, to talk about how these learnings are driving the influencing agenda that takes centre stage for our next phase of work. 

The RINGO Social Lab is a diverse but cohesive community of change makers. We have been on a journey of inquiry, problem identification, and solution-building, and have thus far been experimenting with eight prototypes, trying out new things across different areas of practice. The Lab has come a really long way and we now have a wealth of learnings and insights to share across the sector that we think can genuinely transform our relationships and therefore our impacts. 

So, how will we do it? 

The original thesis of RINGO was that in order to reimagine and redesign the entity of global civil society to be more equitable, the process of change needs to be rooted in and located within the wider ‘system’. All of us –  whether we’re funders, INGO leaders, national and local civil society leaders and others – have a role to play in shaping and shifting the system. This thesis remains intact: the entity of the INGO itself cannot change unless the flows, relationships, forces and norms around it permit or enable this change. The INGO will not and cannot change alone.

Therefore, as we plan how to share the learnings from the RINGO Social Lab, we do so fully cognisant of the whole system that forges and affects the INGO. Building from where we ended our work together last year, we recognised that we needed to strengthen our influence as a community of change makers. In order to do this, we need more hands on deck working to influence the change we want to see on the ground by INGOs. There’s no point in innovating if we can’t ultimately embed our innovations in the entire system.  

We have therefore decided to direct our energy for sharing learning particularly towards the parts of the system that have the most influence, in particular focusing on influencing two sets of actors: Funders and the Boards of INGOs, and we need everyone in RINGO to be a part of this. 

Why Funders and INGO Boards?

Consistently throughout the two years of the RINGO Lab enquiry, funding was identified as absolutely critical. We learned that the nature of funding, the way it is directed, the decision making processes, power dynamics, personnel, geography, due diligence systems, reporting and measurements, all play a powerful part in shaping global civil society. 

INGO Boards, meanwhile, were identified because of their obvious power, responsibility and oversight roles – and their interaction with the funding space. However, we also heard that in spite of their powerful role, Boards had little space or even the knowledge in which to play or drive a re-imagining role, as compared to support given to staff and executive teams. We want to encourage, challenge, accompany and inform Boards along the way of this ‘re-imagining’ process. A space that RINGO could help to fill. 

What does this mean for others in the RINGO ecosystem? 

We do not for a minute think that we are now limiting our conversation, relationships and explorations to these two sets of actors. Not at all. RINGO is a growing, vibrant and dynamic community, connected with many others across the sector. We will continue to organise, mobilise and integrate perspectives and voices from local and national civil society entities in our influencing work. Indeed, we are planning an extensive research study to engage CSOs in Africa, Asia and Latin America which will feed into our influencing strategy.

We will also create platforms where we can support each other and stand in solidarity. We are continuing to develop the prototypes alongside our organisational hosts – through which we expect to find new ways of doing things, better ways of doing things. And those new ways will be taken on by the hosts and members of the prototype team, and infused into the sector. In all of this work we will be proactively and consciously seeking the advice, insights and relationship of civil society colleagues from across the globe. We are determined to leave no civic actor behind.

We hope you’ll stay on this journey with us…and bring your friends along to the party! 

Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash