Skip to main content
Community Contribution

Creating a Confederation Wide Knowledge Management Platform: CARE Shares

Mar 28, 2024
CARE International


CARE International, a humanitarian and development NGO that consists of 18 Member Organizations, works in approximately 100 different countries and has around 10,000 employees. Each country has their own standards for information management, knowledge storage, and internal communication. Centralizing communication within the wider CARE Confederation was and remains an enormous undertaking. Ensuring the Confederation can access the right information from the right people at the right time is the key to maximizing impact. From this, CARE Shares was born. 

This case study documents the process of developing a knowledge management (KM) platform for a localized NGO, sharing lessons learned and providing a potential model for others that may be starting or continuing their journey to build their own KM system.

The Need 

CARE has a wealth of knowledge and experience from over 75 years in the development and humanitarian space. CARE colleagues work together to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges, but working together and accessing that knowledge was challenging as there was no central repository of CARE knowledge. Additionally, collaboration between CARE offices was ad hoc and decentralized. Communication between offices happened on a multitude of different platforms. CARE Shares is the first organization-wide intranet and KM platform for the CARE Confederation. CARE Shares launched in 2019 and has continued to evolve. It is an ever-growing program and continues to be improved upon by the CARE Shares Management Team, as well as the CARE Shares Advisory Committee. The continued work to create an effective and organized, centralized KM platform within CARE has been invaluable to the CARE Confederation.


CARE Shares usage has grown exponentially since launch. CARE Shares started with 14 sites, a few hundred documents, and a couple hundred visits a month in 2019, and has grown to over 120 sites, 100,000 documents, and over 6,000 engaged users per month – meaning 60% of CARE staff engage with CARE Shares on monthly basis, with almost 75% of staff engaging in March and October 2023.

The Process 

Initial Leadership & Design 

CARE Shares was soft launched in September 2019. This was the realization of years of intensive work by many CARE employees. The seeds of CARE Shares began in 2015, with the creation of a Confederationwide IT Steering Committee comprised of IT and KM Leads across CARE. The idea then was a “global enterprise content management system”, but the execution and implementation for a system like this was still only vaguely defined. The formation of CARE Shares as a set of SharePoint communication sites connected through Hub sites and tags came to fruition in December 2018 at an in-person development workshop of the IT Steering Committee.

Tool Selection (SharePoint) 

SharePoint was selected as the tool to build on, as it was already a common content management tool within CARE’s shared Microsoft 365 environment and most CARE staff already had access. Making use of existing platforms and avenues for digital collaboration and knowledge sharing was an essential design element to keep things simple for CARE staff. After the initial decision to utilize SharePoint as the platform to host CARE Shares, the team used CARE’s Vision 2020 program areas and KM contacts to shed in September 2019.

Change Management

Extensive change management activities were conducted prior to and following the launch. This included individualized training and working with senior leaders to generate buy-in. The CARE Shares team continues to socialize CARE Shares and embed its usage throughout the Confederation, not at one moment or as one step of the process, but as an ongoing process of integration. This includes quarterly communication updates, presentations at global town halls, individualized invites, and site owner meetings, to name a few.

Planning for Scale 

CARE Shares has grown rapidly in the years since the initial launch. Now there is a global homepage that links to all sites in CARE Shares, including the main sites of CARE Member Partners, each of which has their own “hub site”. Each CARE Country Office also has its own site that allows them to share their work with the rest of CARE. Beyond that, departments, teams, strategy areas and working groups can also have their own sites.

Standard Information Architecture 

The format of all sites is kept relatively uniform so that each site has key features that can be universally useful (document storage, a calendar, a team introduction page amongst other things) for the benefit of both the team themselves and someone visiting the site for the first time. However, there is a lot of flexibility to alter each site to the needs and context of the particular team to make the site as helpful as possible. 

CARE Shares sites are connected through a shared information architecture and metadata, all based on a shared cross-Confederation taxonomy managed by the CARE Shares Advisory Committee. The CARE Shares team built a custom search page to improve the SharePoint search function, in order to use CARE specific metadata tags to filter content. This makes it easier to find documents that would otherwise be virtually inaccessible.

Staffing & Resources

CARE Shares is operational for all 10,000+ CARE employees. The CARE Shares team is currently made up of two full-time staff, with two additional staff with hours dedicated to strategy and technical support. These four staff act as a help desk for all technical CARE Shares needs, as well as connecting with Site Owners about creation and maintenance of their sites. Solving the issues that arise from different parts of CARE operating with a decentralized organizational structure, as opposed to one all-encompassing organization with centralized identity and user management, requires continuous cross-confederation buy-in and cooperation for the small team to be effective. This larger scale buy-in is also necessary to maintain the budget, which is shared across the Confederation with each member contributing an amount relative to their size within the Confederation. Additionally, keeping the budget lean is integral for CARE Shares, as it keeps the costs low for smaller Confederation members.

Challenges & Lessons Learned

User and Identity Management 

Due to CARE having a more localized model, each CARE Member has their own user management system within their IT department. This means that while the majority of staff in the Confederation have automatic access to CARE Shares because their Microsoft accounts reside in the shared CARE International Microsoft tenant, many other CARE staff are invited as guests and have to be managed separately. In the absence of a cross-Confederation user management system, the CARE Shares team operates as the de facto user management system. This has involved creating workflows for guest invitation processes, ensuring cyber security rules and permissions are adhered to, and developing individual workflows with each CARE Member Partner’s IT departments to invite new CARE staff.

Decentralized Content Management Approach 

CARE Shares' decentralized content management model means that each team and their appointed Site Owner (currently around 300 in total) is responsible for uploading content and maintaining their own site. Because Site Owners take on this role in addition to their day-to-day tasks and most have limited prior SharePoint experience, keeping the sites up-to-date and correctly tagging documents becomes a challenge. For this reason, the CARE Shares team has an annual site audit, as well as monthly meetings for Site Owners, and is always available to be contacted when a Site Owner might be in need of support.

Multilingual Content Management

A large piece of ongoing work that the CARE Shares Team is engaging in is the focus on Multilingual/ Translation options. Currently, most of the content that is housed on CARE Shares is in English. It is of course a great first step to have this much content, but to truly reflect the diversity of the CARE Confederation, the platform needs to be multilingual in the languages staff feel most comfortable working in. The CARE Shares team partnered with a SharePoint Multilingual Publishing expert to develop a translation approach that makes multilingual access and publishing as easy as possible for all CARE employees.

The first steps of this ongoing process have been implemented, with the addition of tools in the SharePoint sites that allow the Site Owners to create multiple language versions of their pages if they choose to, and allowing users to utilize a browser-based auto-translate widget where official translations are not available. The next steps will be to incorporate machine translation of documents and custom search experiences in the user's preferred language. The team is excited to improve the CARE Shares experience for all CARE staff in this way.

Launching is Easy, Sustaining is Harder 

People want to connect and learn from one another. However, behaviors such as sharing information and content expansion on a new platform takes time to integrate into working culture. Providing opportunities for staff to engage with CARE Shares in meaningful ways, and promoting the platform and its many uses as much as possible is key to creating staff engagement. Meeting people where they are allows for each person to use the platform in the way that is most useful for them. Taking the time to prioritize change management and ensure it is continually ongoing has been key to CARE Shares’ growing use at CARE.


Sharing ideas and learning from culturally and linguistically diverse communities that are organizationally separate and geographically distant is a key component of the CARE mission statement. The CARE Shares team is committed to giving CARE staff the chance to do this in the most intuitive, productive, and supportive way by making CARE Shares work for CARE staff. 

The CARE Shares team hopes that this case study will support other organizations facing similar challenges and looking to implement a shared system for better knowledge sharing. Though the task may feel daunting, the results are worth it!