Directories of varying quality exist but they are not necessarily up-to-date, comprehensive, vetted, searchable, or proactive. Often the information is out-of-date and unreliable. Searching through the databases and websites can be time-consuming to find those organizations most relevant to the cause or need or locale. In addition, some of the organizations are more trustworthy or reliable than others, and often there is a lack of transparency which creates barriers to trust.
Because of this, it is hard for both Peace Corps Volunteers and community members alike to locate available resources including grant money, expert short term volunteers, USAID missions, labor, skills, in-kind donations (books, computers, sports equipment, medical equipment, etc) and other resources. Similarly, it is often hard for do-good organizations to find trustworthy projects and individuals. The organizations would benefit from the PCVs experiences and grassroots level connections (often PCVs have a better understanding of the needs of the communities, since they live there). This LIVING DIRECTORY would go a long way to solve this issue.
Features and challenges:
- UP-TO-DATE: App that automatically updates and maintains directory or database by sending out email blasts to contacts or scrapes websites to make sure they are still functioning. And/or there could be a built-in incentive or updating as users including volunteers, American NGOs and charities, post staff, as they access the directory/database. Many current users give up on existing directories and databases when they find that the information/contacts is erroneous or out-of-date.
- SEARCHABLE: location, geographic scope (local, country, regional, global), sector, mission, activities, budget, size, ratings
- INTERACTIVE MAP: Many volunteers are unaware of other organizations that might be active in their communities or country. The map would have the information collected in an easy to search display, and could save hours of searching on the web for organizations. Map-able to increase relevance of local and regional NGOs.
- AUTOMATIC PINGS: App that pushes out news and activities to those who are interested
- MARKETPLACE: App-based “Marketplace” created such that a community member with limited English skills can broadcast a need to all relevant NGOs (e.g., based on GPS location). Possibly could incorporate audio or data recordings, visualizations or simple keywords. The app could also be utilized by PCV's to identify worthy candidates or by the community member themselves.
- RATING SYSTEM: A rating system would help vet the organizations, so that PCVs and community members would have a sense of integrity, reliability, responsiveness.
- TRANSPARENCY: An easy to use web interface that removes barriers to transparency for small NGO and government organizations, making the process easy, fast, and cheap. This interface would allow organizations to register and easily update key information that is required for building trust, including detailed information about finances, organization property and personnel. Financial information could be uploaded from common financial software to make the process even easier. Then, a public profile can be linked to and seen that shows the organization's up-to-date information. API's could allow the information to be posted to organization's websites as well.
The LIVING DIRECTORY can be “auditioned” in Costa Rica, Thailand, Cambodia and Ghana. Once more finely-tuned and proven workable, Peace Corps can roll it out in all 75 countries where we have posts, and will be accessible to the public as well as on Peace Corps’ Knowledge Management Exchange. While it will be open to the public, the LIVING DIRECTORY will be incorporated into pre-departure and pre-service training for Peace Corps Volunteers so they will know about it as a resource and make it available to their Communities where they serve. Over time, additional features and parameters can be added through future RHoKs events as needed.