10 Ways To Source New Ideas From NGO’s

© Lesley D. Biswas - All Rights Reserved



A good resource bank saves both time and effort that go into finding new ideas. Successful writers create reliable resources to fall back on when ideas dry up. One such resource is the non-government organization (NGO) sector.

Building contacts with NGO’s aren’t difficult. Remember, they survive on publicity and are as hungry for publicity as you are for ideas. That’s why the relationship between NGO’s and writers works so well. Contact details of their local bodies are provided on their websites. Get in touch with them personally and offer up some published clips to get them hooked. They’ll be glad to include you on their mailing list where you’ll receive update on upcoming events, new developments, data reports and press releases.

Shortlist five NGO’s for a start; each tackling separate issues like women’s rights, poverty alleviation, wildlife, education and drugs, to name just a few. Choose topics of your interest and about which you have a fair knowledge. It doesn’t matter if you’re not an expert. Once you’ve built contacts with them, you’ll receive tons of information that will help you understand their work better.

Besides the string of ideas that you receive through their mailings, here are ten ways to source more ideas.

1. Anniversaries. All newspapers carry anniversary pieces. A plantation drive by an NGO commemorating World Environment Day or a street walk by another to spread awareness about the harmful effects of tobacco on World Tobacco Free Day are ideas you can use. Make a list of the anniversaries that your chosen NGO’s celebrate; find out what they’re coming up with on that day and pitch your idea to local publications in advance.


2. Landmarks. Recently an NGO crossed the target of feeding one million school children mid-day meals. NGO’s keep reaching such targets which are newsworthy. Get informed about their ongoing project and the expected time of completion so that you don’t miss the opportunity on a story idea.

3. Survey’s and Analysis. Before the Copenhagen Climate Summit an NGO involved with environment issues conducted a survey to measure the carbon footprint of people living in a metro city in India. Its findings were carried by all leading newspapers across the state. Such findings will be sent directly to your when you’re on their mailing list.


4. Life of Volunteers and Activists. The life of a social activist and volunteer is always eventful, so build a personal rapport with them. You never know when they’ll be awarded for their service and you get rewarded with a firsthand feature story idea fit to be a cover story.


5. Conference, seminars and campaigns. You’ll receive invites to all of them and don’t mistake sitting through these discussions as just a waste of time. These are the real source for interview ideas. You’ll be surprised to come across eminent speakers and experts you’ll like to interview. Some NGO’s also offer to arrange interviews with their speakers for you.


6. Local angles. While stories about global warming have been done to death, a new idea with a local angle is what editors won’t reject. For example, an NGO’s initiative to build roads with waste plastic in your locality takes a fresh look at the global waste problem. Capitalize on the unique aspects of NGO’s and net winning ideas.


7. Press release. Press releases are written so that journalist can develop them into feature stories. Be amongst the first to get an online press release and be briefed about their latest developments and projects. One such press release promoting eco-tourism by an NGO gave me the idea to do a story on how eco-tourism has saved the wetlands.


8. NGO network. NGO’s themselves network extensively to find resources and volunteers. It’s a budding ground for writers as well. Recently while speaking to an activist of a women’s organization I got talking with a psychiatrist working with victims of marital rape. That led to a whole new story idea for a women’s magazine.


9. Material from NGO’s. Make a file of all the mails you receive and collect their handouts, brochures, leaflets and news cuttings. The information can be
 channeled for other write-ups as well. For example, a study of migratory birds by an NGO can be used when crafting a travel story for birdwatchers.


10. Follow-up stories. NGO projects last for months, sometimes years, giving you the opportunity to develop ideas for follow-up stories. If you’ve done a story on a plantation drive by an NGO, follow-up with how may saplings survived the summer or how the project has helped birds find a nesting place.


NGO’s need to tell the public about their projects, so you can rest assured they’ll keep you informed as well.

More than anything I find writing about NGO’s highly satisfying. It makes me feel I’m doing my tiny bit, so what if I’m also profiting from it.






About the Author: Lesley D. Biswas has written for publications 

like Woman’s Era, 4TH D Woman, Kolkata Mirror, Funds for Writers small markets, The Wip and The Sun to name a few. 

She lives in Kolkata, India. 




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