Western democracies are increasingly outsourcing Human Services (HS) to Non-Government
Organizations (NGOs), Not-For-Prots (NFPs), and Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs). Increasingly,however, the leaders of these organisations are not executives from the NGO sector, but rather executivesfrom the private sector, with a deep understanding of the commercial drivers, as well as the social and political challenges of running an NGO.These key executives must be able to position their organizations to inuence government policy and decision making – and, equally important, put the right architecture around their business to attract thefunding from the end consumer. Australia provides a unique window on the challenges of leading the rapidly developing – and changing – NGO sector. Malcolm Duncan, co-founder and Director of The Insight Group – IRC Australia(an Australian-owned executivesearch and talent advisory rm with ofces in Sydney and Melbourne), is also amember of the Executive Board of IRC Global Executive Search Partners (IRC)
with deep experience in global recruiting for this challenging sector.In this article, he examines the sector’s development, current and future prospects, and describes the ideal (and rare) prole of those extraordinary chief executives who have the ability to lead NGOs into a successful future.
Why is the NGO sector expanding so rapidly?
Malcolm explains how economic challenges are creating the increased need for effective NGOs, andresults-driven key executives.
“Providing for human services, for most Western democracies, has turned into a nancial black hole,” he says. “Now that all Western democracies are under budgetary pressure – trying to bring in balancedbudgets and/or draw down decit budgets – one way to lighten the pressure is to remove those largesocial/service obligations from government balance sheets.”
Governments increasingly realise that these NGOs, NFPs and FBOs are much more effective in the deliveryof targeted, on the ground services. Malcolm adds: “Governments also realise there’s no votes in failing to
satisfy the insatiable needs of our communities for cradle to grave services. The Baby Boomers are leadingthat demand for better, more exclusive and comprehensive services in areas such as aged-care, with theirchildren wanting increasing quality built into childcare. Since the mid 1970s, incredible increases in wealthhave created a layered, non-egalitarian society – and that’s showing in the desire for stratied services,from basic to gold-plated.”
Where’s the money coming from – and will it get less?
Government redistributes funds to the service providers or the end users.
“Basically, the government then says we’re going to allow these organisations to deliver our policy on theground and, for the most part, it is up to those organisations to appeal to the end consumer to spend their
dollar with them,” explains Malcolm.
Recruiting key executives to lead the expanding NGO sector
CEOs must navigate diverse conicts and challenges to successfully lead an NGO through the nancially challenged 2010s
Malcolm Duncan – IRC Australia, and Board member of IRC Global Executive Search Partners