Dgroups started in 2002 as a project of Bellanet/IDRC (Canada) in collaboration with the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Institute for Connectivity in the Americas (ICA), the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), OneWorld, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Under the tagline ‘development through dialogue’ it sought to enhance online collaboration and interaction among people and organizations working in development, human rights and humanitarian aid. In 2009, the Dgroups Foundation was established to provide an institutional framework to effectively engage dozens of partners and thousands of individual users of a dgroups collaboration space that was started in 2002. Today, the Foundation does not offer the use of a single platform; it facilitates collaboration and communication that can work on any online device or space. The Foundation is managed by a Board.

In late 2018, the Foundation launched a process to refresh its strategy around the following ambitions:

  • Purpose: The Dgroups Foundation enables people, communities, projects and organizations to engage in dialogue and collaborate for more effective development and social justice.
  • Vision: The Dgroups Foundation is an international development partnership that brings together the best choice of tools, support and experience to engage and collaborate effectively online.
  • Mission: The Dgroups Foundation provides simple, effective and affordable solutions, knowledge and expertise for collaboration among organizations, projects, networks and campaigns in international development.

The refreshed ‘business model’ for the partnership is underpinned by 10 key elements:

  1. Different entities join the partnership to receive and contribute to a ‘core’ set of benefits. Such partners may buy in to additional activities and services according to their interests and capacities.
  2. Partners share a common commitment to the values and aims of the Foundation and are willing to pay annual partnership contributions sufficient that the Foundation’s recurring running costs are covered.
  3. The Foundation does not re-sell third-party community or group collaboration spaces in return for payment.
  4. The Foundation’s emphasis is on the communities and their knowledge, not technical platforms. It covers Access, Brokerage, Capacity and Dialogue (A-B-C-D).
  5. The Foundation and its partnerships are platform-agnostic, offering multiple solutions and de-linking partner financial contributions from any third-party services.
  6. The Foundation is keen to collaborate with partners to generate projects/activities that enable more effective dialogue and collaboration leading to more impactful development and social justice
  7. Partners are encouraged and supported to set up their own communities and groups on any of our recommended or other platforms.
  8. Partners can use their own group/community domains or make use of Foundation-associated domains (.io; .net; etc).
  9. The Foundation may ‘host’ and manage a very small number of online communities through its own online space. This is for Foundation-led communities and groups and, in certain cases, for individual groups that the Foundation considers can benefit from this opportunity.
  10. Partners are encouraged to contribute to joint efforts such as the ‘Community Connector’ or other efforts that reinforce and facilitate collaboration and interaction across the partnership and beyond.