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CBOs - Introduction

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 7 months ago


CBOs - Introduction

CBOs - Challenges

CBOs - Essential Conditions

True generosity consists precisely in fighting to destroy the causes which nourish false charity. False charity constrains the fearful and subdued, the “rejects of life” to extend their trembling hands. True generosity lies in striving so that these hands — whether of individuals or entire peoples — need be extended less and less in supplication, so that more and more they become human hands which work and, working, transform the world.

Paulo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Community based organizations (CBO's) are nonprofit groups that work at a local level to improve life for residents. The focus is to build equality across society in all streams - health care, environment, quality of education, access to technology, access to spaces and information for the disabled, to name but a few. The inference is that the communities represented by the CBO's are typically at a disadvantage. CBO's are typically, and almost necessarily, staffed by local members - community members who experience first hand the needs within their neighborhoods. Besides being connected geographically, the only link between staff members and their interests is often the desire and willingness to help. Occupational skill sets and experience are greatly diverse.


The tightrope upon which stability balances in this type of organization is being stretched taut, as the role of the CBO is extended to new lengths. Governments are increasingly delegating responsibility to CBO's and relying on them to gather local concerns, develop, plan, and help deliver solutions. CBO's are storehouses, gatekeepers, of local information obviously valuable for their own purposes, but this data is also useful to other organizations and government agencies. The role of CBO's is becoming knowledge management - to compile, sort, store and retrieve local data. Technology is increasingly becoming more important to this function, to manage daily business operations, but also to develop innovative solutions, given restrictive budgets, limited personnel available, and new demands for services and information. Technology is being used to bring in the voice of the community members, through public participation and input. Applications include mapping of community landmarks and services by locals, providing environmental baseline and change measurements, and identifying concerns common throughout the community.


Work conducted by CBO's generally falls into the themes of human services, natural environment conservation or restoration, and urban environment safety and revitalization. Examples include:


- neighborhood revitalization

- affordable housing

- food security

- accessible transportation

- senior citizens associations

- environmental protection/conservation

- community sustainability

- humanitarian/disaster response

- medical relief funds

- youth homes and centers



Community based organizations (CBO's) use technology for managing daily business operations and administrative functions, but also require specific technology for mission-critical programs. Neighborhood or geographic information systems (NIS or GIS) are emerging technologies in the nonprofit sector generating custom solutions for CBO's.

The value of using this technology for CBO's lies in:


- the capacity for efficient data management,

- increased information that can be extracted from already collected data,

- the ease in sharing data and incorporating other similarly referenced data (to generate additional information),

- the sophisticated analysis and presentation it affords, which is critical in securing further support and funds for the organization, and

- allowing for active participation and collaboration with community members.






Specific Calgary examples include:

- Friends of Nose Hill - http://www.geocities.com/fonhs/

- Grassroots NW Environmental Awareness Society - http://www.emeraldfoundation.ca/emerald_awards/past_recipients/2007/grassroots_nw_environmental_awareness_society/view

- Calgary Children's Initiative - http://www.childrensinitiative.ca


Interesting Video and Podcast Links:

-Allan Gunn from Aspiration provides a look at nonprofits' best practices for nonprofits in communication, campaigning, and organizing. Some good general tips for technology adoption: http://cdn.libsyn.com/craigslistfoundation/sf07allengunn.mp3

-The Amazon Conservation Team shows how the indigenous community participates in their community mapping and land protection activities through GPS and Google Earth:






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