A Collaboration Platform for NGOs That Help Ukrainian People Escaping From War
About this project
In this pro-bono project, Netguru built a web platform with collaboration tools that helped Polish NGOs provide support to Ukrainian people fleeing their country. A working MVP of a collaboration platform was created in one month and then refined into a complete product with more features in five months.
Forum Razem (a Polish NGO forum) was established by the Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) and Ashoka: Innovators for the Public to facilitate better collaboration among Non-Governmental Organizations.
The goal of the Forum was to provide a platform enabling wise and inclusive support to organizations working on behalf of people from Ukraine and their host Polish communities.
Non-governmental and grassroots organizations can join Forum Razem and work together on support initiatives for Ukrainian people in Poland. Among other goals, Forum Razem:
- Provides knowledge and tools to facilitate growth of the NGO ecosystem in Poland
- Improves relations of the Polish NGO ecosystem with international entities
- Connects organizations in need with institutions that can support them, either with funding, management, expertise, or otherwise
Fast digital response to aid in humanitarian crisis
When the Russian military entered Ukraine in February 2022, the Polish NGO ecosystem immediately sprang into action to provide help for incoming Ukrainian people. There were a lot of organizations whose operations weren’t fully coordinated, and the help wasn’t spread evenly across all the areas that required it.
Streamlining all of these operations into one comprehensive plan seemed nearly impossible. This issue was quickly noticed by Polish Humanitarian Action and Ashoka. They applied to Tech for Ukraine (a Tech to the Rescue campaign) for tech support.
Netguru, having delivered several pro bono projects within Tech To The Rescue, reacted quickly and joined the initiative.
“Right after the Russian invasion, all humanitarian organizations immediately jumped into action. To support them, I decided to organize a common space for sharing information, acquiring new connections, and solving problems. It was clear that we needed a web platform to do this, and Netguru was very quick to respond and offer help.”
former NGO Forum Coordinator
They worked throughout the weekend to determine the initial scope for the MVP of a web collaboration platform called Forum Razem.
As soon as Monday morning came, almost ten members of the project team were already assembled (designers, dev-ops, developers, PMs, consultants) and ran a kick-off meeting to start the development process.
Helping hundreds of NGOs collaborate
Forum Razem aimed to provide, in a very short time, a new platform for organizations to collaborate on a national scale.
Hundreds of NGOs were running their operations independently, in nearly all Polish cities and at all border crossings. There was no single source of information for them, so some locations received more support than was needed, while others were still lacking basic supplies.
Solving this issue required:
- Getting hundreds of organizations together in one place
- Providing them with tools to collaborate with each other
- Helping them exchange vital information in real time
Building a custom web platform for NGOs
The appropriate solution was a dedicated web platform, customized to meet the needs of NGOs better than ad-hoc solutions such as groups on social media. The project team settled on a feature scope consisting of:
- Interactive map the with locations of activities managed by each organization
- Database of organizations
- Secure account creation and sign-up
- Email server and newsletter
- Administration framework for Forum Razem to manage the platform and make sure there are no unwanted actors or false data
There was no time to waste, so our team immediately got to work setting up the development environment for the project. The MVP of the platform was ready after a month. After the first stage was over, we continued our work as we would on any standard project – setting goals and targets, and then accomplishing them in a reasonable timeline.
Over a period of five months, we optimized the MVP features and added new ones to the platform. As development came to a finish, the nature of the project changed from MVP solution to a platform that will grow for years to come.
Our team stays in touch with Forum Razem, performing the maintenance and upkeep of the platform.
- In response to a humanitarian crisis, a working MVP of a collaboration platform was built in one month and then refined into a complete product with more features in five months.
- More than 200 organizations registered to the Forum right after the release.
- Thanks to the web platform, organizations are more informed about each others’ projects, and they have a dedicated place to exchange information in real time and support each other.
- The product has a rich set of features and is a solid foundation for growth.
- As more organizations adopt it, NGO Forum will play an increasingly important role in improving how NGOs collaborate in Poland.
- Development of the product is over, but the Netguru team continues to support the client and maintain the platform to keep it operational.