FrontlineAid: A tech driven solution to localising aid

By: Alessia Baker

FrontlineAid was born from the search for a practical and transparent solution for the remote management of locally owned projects, in order to support the operations of local organisations and facilitate their access to funding.

The background story: challenges to accessing funding 

It is often the case that many local organisations in remote or conflict areas are aware of communities’ necessities, but they lack the access to aid funds to develop their much needed projects. Instead, larger aid organisations control the money flows while falling short of understanding local needs.

A handful of international aid organizations receive ~99% of the world’s aid budget , ~$147Bn in 2017, and very little trickles down to smaller players. Commitments have been made to change this, namely the Grand Bargain was signed by over 50 of the largest aid organisations in 2016, setting a target to direct 25% of aid funding to local NGOs by 2020. However, as we enter 2021, nothing significant has changed.

When trying to attract funding for their projects, small organizations are faced with three fundamental challenges: heavy bureaucracy, lack of transparency, and very little visibility.

Local NGOs simply do not possess enough resources to deal with the load of bureaucratic work and accounting that comes with managing funding and meeting international reporting standards. 

The lack of transparency penalises smaller NGOs as they don’t have the means to track in detail what the funds are being used for, creating a lack of trust from the donors’ side.  

Smaller organisations’ visibility is also limited. Lacking the resources to promote their projects and relying on a small network for support, they are left with no chance of competing with international aid organisations.

The solution: harnessing tech to empower local organisations

FrontlineAid was developed as an online platform to help streamline the processes that are holding back small NGOs from attracting funding. The platform, ‘The Change Makers Hub’, is composed of a number of features that allow activities and funding to be tracked transparently building programs’ credibility and donors’ confidence.  

For example, one main feature is a project management tool that collects quantitative and qualitative data from running programmes. It displays on a dashboard the areas of implementation and the progress made towards clear targets. Best practices such as  the harmonizing reporting 8+3 template have been also adopted to improve transparency and accountability. The platform also functions offline, collecting data that will then be uploaded once there is a viable internet connection.

The platform also functions as a fundraising tool that simplifies transaction processes. In this way, donors will find it easier to donate to specific projects driven by local organisations, instead of allocating larger sums to general targets set by international organisations.

Social media content can also be stored on the platform. Aid workers on the ground can easily upload photos and real-time data to document the progress made. The platform will also be linked to social media accounts (Facebook, IG, Twitter..) allowing to pull content directly from the relevant channels.

FrontlineAid also functions as an App which is easily accessible with a cellphone. The App offers a number of tools which have the aim to connect possible collaborators and volunteers in an effective and user-friendly way. 

The potential of FrontlineAid as a tool to build local organisations’ agency has already been extensively recognised, attracting the interest of government entities and multiple organisations. There is in fact, in the aid sector and the non-profit-sector at large, an increasing need for tech- enabled solutions for better collaboration and resource management.

FrontlineAid is now a pioneer in harnessing the potential of technology for improving aid operations in Syria, proving the importance of empowering localised aid organisations and revolutionizing the way funding is distributed.