What is a Community Based Organization? (CBO)
Community Based Organization (CBO) is a generic term applied to all non-profit organizations controlled by the community. Generally, CBOs and ve divided into two major categories: a) institutions like Local Development Committees (LDCs) that have public functions at community level and are created to represent the interest of all its population like anti-drug coalitions; b) Common Interest Groups (CIGs) that have private functions which represent the personal interests of its members like an association or cooperative group.
The Puerto Rico National Guard Civil Operations Program is willing and able to support Community Based Organizations which mission is to work substance abuse prevention among their residents and general population.
Types of Community Based Organizations (CBOs)
Local Development Committees (LDCs): Collective governance organizations of a locality with responsibilities in development. The collective governance of a community involves a series of accepted endogenous rules (eg community institutions) and an organization responsible for implementing these rules and organizing collective action of interest to all members of the community.
Common Interest Groups (CIGs): Organizations of some members of the community who jointly seek the achievement of a goal.
Client Associations (CAs): These are GIC established to manage and maintain an infrastructure built with public and / or private funds, with resources mobilized by members of the association.
Micro-financial Institutions (MFIs): Are community-level GICs specializing in savings and loans.
CBO Networks: CDL or GIC unions (the latter are more common). Often, GIC federations of various types are classified as "Professional Associations".
Characteristic of most non-profit organizations, community organizations have a diverse workforce of volunteers and staff, with varied motivations and skills. However, there is a shortage of staff with solid knowledge of information technology who are interested in working in the nonprofit sector in general. CBOs are "rich in the passion of their members" (Sieber, 2000). Staff are likely to have fervent intrinsic motivation directly tied to the organization's cause or mission and this can lead to strong individual agendas and pursuit of specific goals that require careful management to ensure compliance with the overall mission objectives And collaboration with the rest of the team. However, diversity in experience and ability also brings diversity into perspective. New perspectives or ways of thinking can catalyze innovation in addressing the mission of an OBC, specifically the application of technology, if the organizational structure allows for flexibility and sufficient time for such exploration. CBOs typically have a less rigid, informal organizational structure than in other sectors, allowing for flexibility in the roles and responsibilities of staff, which can promote the adoption of technology. Balance is a key factor again, as too loose an organizational structure can make adoption of technology and successful implementation impossible.
CBOs are usually led by an executive director, supported by a core of multi-functional staff, and volunteers who can assist mission-based programs. Personnel who resemble CBO rather than small business - each staff member takes on multiple roles and many tasks. While this is necessary to ensure that all aspects of the work is completed, it is a limiting factor when considering technology adoption and innovation. In a survey prepared by Princeton Survey Research Associates (2001), large non-profit organizations were able to dedicate a staff member to oversee information technology, but organizations of almost all small and medium-sized organizations were only able to Assign a part-time role for this vital function. In all sizes of organizations, there are difficulties in attracting and retaining qualified staff.
CBOs often become atomized - isolating themselves from other organizations that can share data, information resources and technology. While it could facilitate communication with other agencies and enable pooling of resources, the CBO environment is often not optimized to allow for such opportunities. The crucial role of IT in humanitarian relief efforts in CBOs must communicate timely and critical information, not only to each other, but also to the larger national and international agencies.
CBOs are subject to the same financial constraints as other non-profit organizations. Financial support may come from individual donations, fundraising efforts, grants through funding agencies, or directly from other non-profit organizations. As with the workforce, CBO donors are often internal as a motivated goal, and funds may be subject to limitations or specific instructions on how they can be invested. Funds are directed to program missions or specific goals, rarely to general computer technical service or professional development opportunities for staff.
CBOs generally do not spend time or effort toward building a budget for IT or a strategic plan. This limits the ability to and take advantage of time sensitive opportunities and further separates them from other sectors, across all divisions - digital, organizational, and innovation.
A great CBO challenge is learning about what technology can do for them. Not having a dedicated IT staff member, and being isolated from the "world of technology" and without a community of practice to share experiences and explore issues, creates an environment of doubt and mistrust. Many community organizations are misinformed about the potential impact of technology on both their day-to-day operations and specific missions. Some CBOs still do not see the benefit of technology for their organization and work without. For others, technology is critical, but is often promoted adoption and controlled by a "champion" individual. Documenting the experiences of these innovators would be to provide guidance and support to those who are pursuing a "road map" in their pursuit of technology adoption, but there are few examples worthy of such a practice.
OBCs are large local information store houses, but there is a lack of IT capability (human and infrastructure) to analyze and share data. Transforming your data into useful information is an inherent challenge to OBC. However, the geographical context that underlies the concept of community and neighborhood provides a spatial reference for all the information that is collected. Geographic or neighborhood information systems provide an efficient way to capture, store, analyze, share and present data. While these systems are already commercially available and affordable, there is considerable knowledge required to handle such a system, including data quality, format and standards and geographic concepts such as projections, modeling and language , As well as technical knowledge to ensure hardware infrastructure, software requirements and peripheral requirements are understood and met. While it is difficult to retain knowledgeable staff in the field of IT in general, it is even more difficult when such specific skills are required. Building IT capacity to transform data into knowledge is one of the biggest challenges facing the CBO today.