Nearly 40 years ago, a group of young international development professionals met at a workshop for financial managers in Washington, DC, realized the common challenges they were facing and began to share their ideas and solutions. They created a support group to give each other advice. The success of this group, known as the Association of PVO Financial Managers (APVOFM), spurred the formation of a similar group, The Personnel Co-op, which focused on human resources issues.
From the very beginning, both groups focused on both networking—establishing the first human resources and finance, grants, and contracts roundtables—as well as learning, with the offering of the first USAID/Federal Rules & Regulations workshop. By the 1980s, The Personnel Co-op was benchmarking the sector, launching the first US Headquarters Salary and Benefits Survey and Expat Benefits Survey. A newsletter (typed!) called Tie-Lines was published to keep both groups connected. APVOFM held its first “Workshop and Annual Meeting” in September 1983. The Personnel Co-op held its own first annual event shortly thereafter.
During their first two decades, the sister organizations grew from a membership of dozens of organizations to 186 organizations by 2007. Advocacy became part of APVOFM’s agenda, with a big success coming in 1996-1997, when the group influenced the OMB (the US Government’s Office of Management and Budget) to reissue a revised OMB Circular A-133, Audits of Non-Profit Organizations, to contain exemption for non-U.S. entities receiving awards directly from federal agencies or indirectly from other organizations.
Training and learning services grew, too, from a total of eight workshops in the U.S. to 25 workshops per year. In the mid-1990s, workshops first received NASBA (the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) certification to grant participants CPE (continuing professional education) credits. By the end of the first three decades, development professionals in 26 countries had participated in workshops. A private “Members Only” online website and listserv kept members connected across the country and around the globe.
On May 1, 2008, APVOFM and The Personnel Co-op joined together to form InsideNGO. New services, program areas, learning opportunities, and membership benefits proliferated. IT folks, young professionals, legal practitioners, and project managers became more active in the community as programs were developed for them. Virtual roundtables were offered for the first time in 2008 and webinars in 2010. The first “integrated” InsideNGO Annual Meeting took place in 2009; by 2011, the event was so large and with so many unique sessions that it was moved to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where it remains today.
Today, in 2016, InsideNGO’s membership is 360 organizations strong. We’re offering 150 learning events in 2016-2017, in 20 countries, and our e-Learning portfolio is expanding with content created to meet our sector’s needs. We are widely recognized as the leader in US government assistance compliance training. Our name as also become synonymous with operational excellence, and we recognize our members’ contributions in these areas with our annual Operational Excellence Awards. To reach our geographically dispersed membership, we broadcast our opening sessions of our Annual Conference via livestream in 2016, and next year, for our 40th anniversary celebration, we will make even more content available in real time.