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[ United States Department of State ]

[ Bureau of International Information Programs ]

About the Author

osaica Senior Consultant Hilary
Binder-Aviles is the lead author of this
handbook. Mosaica: The Center for
Nonprofit Development and Pluralism is a
multicultural, nonprofit, capacity-building organization
that provides tools to NGOs to build just, inclusive
and thriving communities and societies. For the past
20 years, Mosaica has provided training and assistance
in the areas of NGO startups, program/organizational
planning and management, evaluation, governance,
fundraising, advocacy, and community organizing.
Mosaica’s special commitment is to groups that serve
(Courtesy of Hilary Binder-Aviles)
and represent populations whose voices are least likely
to be heard when policies are made and resources are allocated.
Binder-Aviles has extensive experience working with U.S.-based NGOs started by
refugees and immigrants from Africa, Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Arab world.
She has facilitated planning and coalition building for Iraqi, Yemeni and Egyptian NGOs.
Binder-Aviles holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wellesley College and
a master’s in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard
University. Mosaica founder Emily Gantz McKay and Vice President Hila Berl provided
feedback, insights, and examples based on their combined decades of experience working
with NGOs in the United States and in places of conflict, including the Middle East, the
former Yugoslavia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Have you ever seen a problem and wanted to do something about it?
Of course you have. The schools, police, government welfare offices,
churches and families aren’t handling it. Others share your concerns
and want to do something. That’s why you would start a nongovernmental
organization, or NGO. This handbook will guide you through
the steps of starting and operating an NGO.

Introduction 1 2 3

A Powerful Way Starting and Values, Vision Planning,

to Bring About Sustaining and Mission — Evaluating and
Change an NGO the Compass Managing
[2] [6] [ 14 ] [ 22 ]

4 5 6 7

The Board Community Partnerships with The Funders —

of Participation and Other NGOs and Foundations,
Directors Empowerment Government Corporations,
[ 36 ] [ 48 ] [ 56 ] Individuals
[ 64 ]
Bibliography [ 75 ]

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) advocate for human rights and

environmental protection, build youth leadership, work to end violence
against women and children, assist the poor and much more. Starting an
NGO can be a powerful way to bring about change.

(© 2000-2012 PhotoSpin, Inc.)

GOs — nongovernmental are large, multinational organizations
organizations — are independent while others are small, village-based
of both the government and the groups. Some target particular issues
business sector. Their mandate is to or sectors, such as women, youth, the
promote the public interest and serve the environment, human rights, education
public good rather than to make a profit or health. Others address multiple issues
or advance the interests of a narrow group and sectors.
of individuals. Their independence enables Whatever their area or scope, all NGOs
them to monitor government performance exist to make people’s lives better or
and advocate for improvements. solve a social problem. Most NGOs are
NGOs that are respected by both the founded by people who are passionate
government and the business sector can about their communities or causes. Yet
help mediate conflicts or find solutions starting and running an NGO takes more
to common concerns. Finally, their than passion. It takes knowledge, skills,
independence from government, political resources and relationships. It also takes
parties and religious institutions allows time, planning, patience and flexibility.
them to create a shared vision for their This handbook provides a framework
community. NGOs mobilize volunteers for building an effective, sustainable
and other resources to achieve their vision. NGO. In these pages, you will find
Whether you are thinking about information about how to develop the core
starting an NGO, have already established components of an NGO — the values,
one, or have been leading one for years, vision, mission and programs — and tips
you are part of a global movement of for how to carry them out. We will also
people channeling their power to effect cover the different kinds of relationships
change. Over the past few decades, you need — with the community you
NGOs have been at the forefront of serve, your partners, your funders, the
major social movements to better people’s government and other stakeholders.
lives. The number of NGOs in emerging Throughout the book, you will find best
democracies has grown rapidly over the practices for running an NGO and advice
past decades. In places such as the former on how to avoid and address common
Soviet republics, NGOs are helping build challenges your NGO might face.
democratic institutions and provide safety Ultimately, this handbook will help
nets for poor and vulnerable populations. you build an NGO that is legitimate,
The term “NGO” first came into use transparent and accountable, qualities
after World War II when the United necessary for your NGO to be effective.
Nations applied it to private organizations
that helped heal the ravages of the war
— millions of displaced people, orphans
and high unemployment. But the concept When an NGO is seen as legitimate,
of citizens organizing around issues goes the public believes that it addresses a
back much further. Some scholars identify need in society and that its members put
the first international NGO as Anti- that social need above their personal
Slavery International, established in 1839. interests. Before you ask yourself: How
Today, the U.N. recognizes an estimated do we sustain our NGO?, you need to
40,000 international NGOs, with millions answer the questions: Are we legitimate?
more operating within countries. There and Does our NGO deserve to exist?
are many different kinds of NGOs. Some An NGO deserves to exist when it has a

clear, relevant mission focused on meeting
a critical community or societal need.
But a good mission is not enough. To be
legitimate, an NGO must also be well- NO ONE OWNS AN NGO
governed, well run and effective. Throughout this handbook, we may refer
An NGO that is controlled by one to “your NGO.” By that we mean the NGO
individual will not be seen as legitimate. with which you are affiliated. An NGO is not
If one person dominates an organization someone’s property. It serves the public
with little input or oversight from others, good and must have a group of people
that individual risks promoting his or who serve as the stewards of that public
her personal interest over the public trust. This is typically the board of directors.
interest. Without the active leadership and NGOs that are controlled by one individual
management of several people, there are who is not accountable to a board or other
no checks and balances to prevent misuse stakeholders will not be seen as legitimate
or abuse of NGO resources. An NGO and will not earn the diverse support
needs a broad base of leaders who solicit needed to sustain the organization.
input from stakeholders to make sure their
organization serves the public interest.
➠ The results: It is not enough to carry
out projects and activities. An NGO
must achieve tangible results in
Because an NGO exists for the public improving the lives of the people
good, it must be accountable to — answer it serves.
to — the public. Specifically, that means ➠ Good governance: Your NGO should
answering to your stakeholders: funders, have a volunteer board of directors
members, partners, the people you serve, that governs the organization ethically
the community you operate in and and effectively. Governance is the set
other NGOs. of activities through which a board
Different stakeholders have different provides direction and oversight of the
expectations. Your funders expect organization and its activities.
their money to be used for the intended ➠ Fiscal responsibility: Your NGO must
purpose, managed well and applied to make sure the contributions it receives
meet project objectives. The people you are used to advance the mission, not for
serve expect help with their needs and to the personal gain of specific individuals.
be treated with respect. Partners expect In its governance role, the board
you to be honest and follow through oversees the NGO’s finances.
on commitments. These are just a few
examples. NGOs need to engage and How do you hold your NGO
listen to their different stakeholders to accountable? Too often, NGOs hold
understand their varied expectations. At a themselves accountable only to their
minimum, your NGO is accountable for: funders and donors and not to their
➠ The mission: An NGO’s mission is why communities. Your funders, of course,
it exists. It is your public promise about require you to report to them, while your
what you do and the difference you seek communities do not. In many countries,
to make in the world. An NGO keeps government ministries that oversee NGOs
its promise to the public by upholding require annual reports. But how do
its mission. NGOs hold themselves accountable to the

communities they serve? They do that by Legitimacy, transparency and
holding community meetings, conducting accountability go hand in hand. If
surveys, and writing annual reports, an NGO is not accountable to its
newsletters and other forms of outreach. stakeholders, it will not be seen as
Not only should you regularly inform your legitimate. If an NGO is not transparent,
constituency of your activities, you should it cannot hold itself accountable and
seek their input and feedback. If NGOs neither can others. Further, being
demand accountability in others, they accountable and transparent helps you
must be accountable themselves. build trust with the community. Earning
your community’s trust is key to being
able to carry out your mission. When
community members lack trust in an
When something is transparent, you can NGO, they are less likely to participate in
see through it. That is how NGOs must its programs or seek its services. The more
operate. Stakeholders must be able to see accountable and transparent you are, the
into your organization and understand more trust you gain. And the more trust
how its programs operate, how funds are you gain, the better able you are to serve
used and how decisions are made. An your community.
NGO practices transparency by providing It is up to you as an NGO leader to
timely and accurate information about its uphold these principles, for they are the
activities, finances, policies, procedures keys to your success.
and decisions. By being transparent, you When one NGO makes headlines for
create opportunities to learn how to do corruption or mismanagement, it makes
your work better. When others have all NGOs look bad, and the whole sector
information about what you are doing and loses legitimacy in the eyes of the public.
how you are doing it, they can offer ideas On the other hand, when NGOs uphold
for improvement. these principles in word and action, they
build confidence and trust in the work of
all NGOs. This handbook will help your

REMEMBER… organization do just that.


You may hear other terms used to describe
organizations that work to advance the
public good:
➠ Civil society organizations (CSOs)
➠ Nonprofit organizations
➠ Charities or charitable organizations
➠ Grassroots or community-based
➠ Voluntary organizations
In some cases, the terms suggest a
particular type of NGO. For example,
grassroots organizations are NGOs that
members of a community form to help


(© 2003-2012 Shutterstock Images LLC)

olutions to large global challenges VISION AND MISSION STATEMENTS
often start with small, local actions.
When you see a need or a problem Your NGO’s vision describes the long-
in your community, you can make term changes you seek and how people’s
a difference by standing up and taking lives will be better thanks to your work.
action. An artist may see youth in his Your mission is the unique way your
neighborhood with nothing to do after organization contributes to turning that
school and start an informal art program. vision into reality. It is necessary that you
An educator may notice that young girls put your vision and mission into writing.
from poor families don’t attend school When the leaders of an NGO share a
regularly and set up a Saturday tutoring powerful vision and a clear mission, the
program. A nurse may learn that women NGO has a much better chance to be
in her community are uninformed successful. Without a vision, your NGO
about basic health services and organize will find it hard to inspire others to join
informational workshops. your cause. An ill-defined mission leaves
But, no matter what kind of challenge or an NGO without focus and direction.
opportunity you face, you can accomplish NGOs with unclear missions often
more when you have more resources and dissipate their energy in many unrelated
people supporting your goal than when projects or activities, leaving little impact.
you act alone. This is why you start a Writing vision and mission statements
nongovernmental organization (NGO). is one of the most important things you,
Starting an NGO requires many kinds the founders of an NGO, do. Vision and
of support. You need volunteers, people mission statements set the tone for your
who provide resources and advocates who future work. In the beginning, set aside
believe in your efforts. Launching projects time for your core leadership team to
and activities demands multiple skills come together and define your NGO’s
and forms of support. You need to make aims and means to accomplish them.
plans, reach out to the community, recruit As your NGO gains experience, or as
volunteers, raise funds, monitor projects new needs emerge in the community, you
and evaluate results. Sustaining an NGO will likely need to refine your mission.
over time demands an even greater level Imagine a lawyer who wants to help
of commitment, skills, systems, support migrant workers in his city. He starts an
and resources. NGO called Migrant Workers’ Support
This chapter provides an overview Network (MWSN). Initially, his mission
of the key components to start and is broad: Help migrant workers. Later,
sustain an NGO. As we discussed in he realizes the mission is too broad and
the introduction, when an NGO is his NGO lacks focus. So he narrows
legitimate — accountable, transparent, the mission to: Advocate for the rights
and connected to the community — then of migrant workers in detention. Now
it deserves to be sustained. Sustainability he knows exactly where to channel the
refers to the capacity of an NGO to NGO’s resources. But as time passes, he
maintain its activities over time. Often, discovers other unaddressed needs that his
when we hear the term sustainability, the NGO can meet, such as improving housing
first thing that jumps to mind is money. and working conditions, so he decides
But sustainability is about much more to redefine his mission again: Support
than that. It starts with the organization’s migrant workers to live with safety,
vision and mission. security and dignity in our community.

Periodic review and reaffirmation of
the mission is part of an NGO’s ongoing
strategic planning process. If at any point
your staff, board and key volunteers BUILD YOUR TRACK RECORD
disagree about what your NGO should Even if you have a lot of good ideas, start
be doing, or if your funders and partners small. Pick one or two projects that your
show signs of losing confidence, that group can do well. If immigrants are your
might signal the need to revisit your focus, try an after-work education project
mission. for migrant workers or their children. By
doing one or two projects well the NGO
builds a track record of success and learns
what it takes to be effective.
An NGO must be able to translate its
mission into projects and activities that
have measurable impacts welcomed by the workers and a public education campaign
community. Projects must be thoughtfully about how migrant workers contribute to
designed and carried out by qualified society. But its leaders wisely realize that
people in order to effect lasting change doing all these at once would be biting off
and receive long-term funding. more than they can chew. Instead, they
When you are starting out, start small. pick one or two projects and do them well.
MWSN has a basket of ideas for projects This way, the NGO can build up a track
to empower migrant workers: an after- record of success and learn what it takes
work education program, recreational to be effective. If you are uncertain about
activities to build community, an art the best place to start, conduct a simple
workshop for the children of migrant community survey or needs assessment.

The hypothetical NGO Migrant Workers’ Support Network aims to assist people such as this migrant worker
in a Vidalia onion farm in Georgia. (© AP Images/David Goldman)

This young girl in India’s remote Rann of Kutch, in Gujarat, is the child of a migrant salt worker. Such a child
might benefit from an NGO focused on helping migrant laborers and their families, like the NGO suggested
in this chapter. (© AP Images/Prakash Hatvalne)

As your NGO matures, its projects and care facilities in the evenings. MWSN
activities will evolve in response to the solved this by partnering with another
changing needs of the community as well group to add child-care assistance to
as your own lessons learned. You might the program.
decide to expand some activities and cut NGOs must regularly evaluate how
back on others or completely restructure well their projects and activities meet the
your programs. community’s needs and interests. You
MWSN has launched an after-work need to end programs that are no longer
education program for migrant workers relevant or effective and focus on those
and found that there was high interest that are, especially when money is scarce.
but low participation. After conducting When your NGO can show that it is
a survey, the NGO found the reason was meeting community needs and producing
that the immigrants did not have child- measurable results, you will stand a good
chance of securing the resources and
support to be sustainable.


The board of directors is the body
responsible for governing the organization.
The board makes sure an NGO’s mission is Sustainability requires systems for
carried out legally, ethically and effectively. planning, management and evaluation.
Ultimately, the board is accountable to the Regular planning must take place at
community the NGO serves, its donors and multiple levels: project plans, fundraising
other partners. plans, overall organizational plans, short-

WHAT IS EVALUATION AND more sophisticated systems as you need
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? them. When you begin to raise larger sums
of money from multiple sources, then
Evaluation is the systematic review and
you can acquire financial management
assessment of the benefits, quality and
software and detailed accounting
value of a program, activity or organization
procedures. Having clear policies and
as a whole. An evaluation asks:
➠ What worked? procedures and well-defined roles and
➠ What could have worked better? responsibilities for management will help
➠ Why did certain things work or not work? your NGO’s projects, activities and overall
➠ What difference did the work make for organization run smoothly. And when that
our community? happens, your donors and supporters will
➠ What did we learn and how do we use have confidence their resources are being
that knowledge? used well.

term plans, long-term plans. Planning Building and sustaining an NGO takes
systems enable you to organize your people with different kinds of knowledge
work, respond to needs and anticipate and skills: project managers, proposal
challenges. Management systems
are the tools to establish clear
responsibilities and procedures for
handling everything from money
and staff to projects and timelines.
Finally, evaluation systems inform
you of the results you are achieving.
To be accountable, you need to
report results not just to your
funders and supporters, but also to
the community you serve.
Sometimes, new NGOs do not
think about setting up systems.
After all, most people start NGOs
because they want to contribute to
a cause, not because they want to
create administrative procedures,
develop budgets and write reports.
But you must set down at least
simple policies and basic procedures.
At a minimum, you need to set
up a database to track income
and expenses, and establish fiscal
controls such as who can approve
payments and who can sign checks. The NGO Pragya, “wisdom” in Sanskrit, runs this
As your NGO grows, you will have school bus that serves migrant worker
more things to manage: projects, people, communities in Central Himalayan villages in India.
money, relationships. You can develop (© Andrew Aitchison/In Pictures/Corbis)

writers, website developers, fundraisers NGOs that are dependent on just one
and survey takers, to name a few. leader, or a small clique of leaders,
But, above all, NGOs need leaders — have shortcomings that can affect their
people committed to the organization and longevity and effectiveness. Some NGOs
willing to spend time and effort directing have shut down when their founders
its work. Typically, the leadership group departed because there was no one else
consists of an executive director, senior with enough knowledge or commitment
staff and the board of directors. An to keep them going. Others have lost the
NGO’s leaders take on extra responsibility trust of the community when founding
for making sure the NGO has a clear leaders refused to make space for new
mission, effective programs and efficient leaders to come on. Still other NGOs
management of its resources. have become irrelevant and ineffective
When an NGO is starting up, it is because they failed to attract new and
common for the founder to invite friends, diverse talent.
family members and colleagues to join Your NGO should constantly work
the board. However, as an NGO matures, to identify and recruit new talent, build
the founder and board will need to bring their leadership skills, and move them into
in new leadership from outside. The positions of responsibility.
founder and founding board members
of the MWSN might realize they need a
banker or business owner with financial
expertise to advise on budgets, or someone
from the faith community to ask churches Groups and individuals that care about
to provide food and shelter to migrants. the same issues and interact with many
Board members should make a list of the of the same people as your NGO are
kinds of experts their NGO needs and stakeholders in your organization. They
draw up a plan for recruiting them. New have a stake in your work.
board members from outside can bring Relationships with a broad range of
fresh perspectives and energy to the NGO. stakeholders — business and professional
Sustainable NGOs continuously associations, donor organizations, faith
cultivate new leadership at all levels — the institutions, coalitions, unions, political
board of directors, staff, volunteers, and parties and informal community groups
program participants and beneficiaries. — allow an NGO to thrive. Stakeholders
provide your NGO resources — not
just financial support but also in-kind
support. For example, one of the MWSN’s
stakeholders owns a printing business. The
stakeholder prints materials for MWSN at
A resource development plan is one of reduced cost. Or a professional association
the many types of plans an NGO needs with a stake in MWSN’s work may recruit
to sustain its work. It includes your NGO’s professionals from a particular field to
total funding needs for the year and mentor migrant workers.
specific goals for the amount of money Building relationships with stakeholders
you aim to raise from each of your different creates a network of allies who will
sources. It also includes a work plan to meet champion your NGO’s cause and defend
these goals with specific activities, tasks, its rights, and those of your community.
responsibilities and deadlines. Imagine that MWSN has been working

to get the local government to consider faces financial problems, your NGO may
passing legislation to protect the rights become insolvent and have to close. To
of migrant workers. The organization is avoid that, your NGO should seek a wide
more likely to be successful if it can get variety of funding sources, including
letters of support from many stakeholders foundations, businesses, governments and
— other NGOs, businesses, faith leaders individuals. An NGO may also generate
and community leaders. income by selling products or services and
Strong relationships are based on shared holding community fundraising events.
goals, trust and mutual benefit. Regardless With diversified funding, if one source of
of where your NGO is in its lifecycle funding ends, others can help make up
— whether it is just starting or well for the loss.
established — you need to invest time and Building a diversified funding base
energy in building relationships with these requires the collective effort of an NGO’s
diverse stakeholders. The relationships staff, board and volunteers. You will need
will change over time, but they are always a fundraising plan that lays out objectives,
critical to your NGO’s sustainability. strategies, tasks and timelines. Involve all
your staff, board members, volunteers,
and even community members in helping
to raise funds. Create a fundraising
An NGO should not rely on a single committee to coordinate the work and
funder, such as a wealthy business monitor progress.
owner, or a single type of funder, such Building a diversified base of funding
as foundations, for its survival. If your takes time. Keep in mind that many
source of funding changes priorities or NGOs start without formal grants or

The Haitian NGO Fondation Seguin partnered with USAID to involve schoolchildren in a tree-planting
program in Parc National La Visite, Haiti. Children from neighborhoods devastated by the 2010 earthquake
help fight deforestation and learn about the environment. (Kendra Helmer/USAID/Haiti)

WHAT IS “IN-KIND” SUPPORT? for improving its weaknesses to promote
the organization’s long-term viability.
In-kind support refers to items donated to
There are key decision points in an
your NGO. They have monetary value, but
organization’s lifecycle that are vital to
your NGO does not have to pay for them.
its sustainability. Whenever your NGO
Common examples include donations of
is considering launching a new project
supplies and materials, equipment, and
or activity, entering a new partnership,
meeting or office space. In-kind support can
or hiring new staff, stop and assess your
also include donations of time and expertise,
such as a graphic designer who designs capacity to sustain the new endeavor.
your NGO’s website. You must keep track of Ask yourself: Does it fit our mission? Is
in-kind support in your NGO’s budget. it needed and wanted by the community
we serve? Do we have a good plan and
can we manage it well? Do we have
relationships with stakeholders who can
long-term sources of funding. They support or partner with us? And, can we
get volunteers and startup donations, raise the resources we need to start up and
then seek funding from foundations, maintain the project over time?
government agencies and the general An NGO is a powerful way to create
public once they have results to show lasting change for your community.
for their efforts. Some funders give seed Through it, you can mobilize others and
grants to new organizations. Seed funders build something bigger than what you
understand that new NGOs do not have can achieve alone. But it is a long journey
long records of success and are willing to and a lot of work. It takes years and many
take a risk on a good idea and the people kinds of skills, resources and relationships
who will carry it out. When courting a to build and sustain an effective NGO.
seed funder, write up a detailed proposal Remember our hypothetical example: The
describing what you plan to do and how founder of the MWSN started with a core
you plan to do it, as well as a description leadership team, clarified his mission, and
of the qualifications of the NGO’s leaders. later diversified the leadership to bring in
Many NGOs struggle in their first years new skills, expertise and relationships.
with only one or two funding sources. The organization started by carrying out
However, this is the time to build a diverse a small number of projects, set up systems
base of funding for the future. to make sure they were well run, evaluated
them to find out if they were making a
difference, and began to raise money
from diverse sources. With these building
A clear mission and vision; relevant blocks in place, the MWSN has a strong
and effective projects and activities; foundation on which to grow. This means
good planning, management and that more migrant workers will be able to
evaluation; committed leadership; strong live with safety, security and dignity.
relationships; and a diverse base of
financial support are the building blocks
that sustain an NGO over time. From the
moment you found an NGO, think about
sustainability at every step. For example,
when you carry out strategic planning,
assess your NGO’s strengths and set goals


(© Jon Feingersh Photography/SuperStock/Corbis)

n NGO’s values, vision and mission Unite, which was created to empower
are its compass. They guide every young women to combat violence in their
decision an NGO makes and community.
every action it takes. Putting into Typically, an NGO’s founders hold
writing your values, vision and mission is preliminary discussions of their values
one of the first steps you must take when and vision without putting anything
you found an NGO. These statements in writing. But later, after formalizing
will direct the rest of your journey and your core leadership team, including a
communicate to your stakeholders who board of directors and key volunteers,
you are and what you stand for. your team needs to put into writing your
An NGO is more likely to be successful organization’s values, vision and mission.
when its leaders agree on its core values, This will build a sense of ownership
share a powerful vision for change and investment in your NGO. After the
and establish a clearly defined mission. statements are drafted, the board of
Conversely, an NGO without clear directors must officially adopt them.
values, vision and mission lacks a moral
compass to guide its decisions. Without
a clear vision, it will struggle to inspire
others to join. Without a clear mission,
it will lack focus and direction. Such an
organization will likely find itself engaged Values are the principles an NGO
in projects that have little connection to commits to uphold in all aspects of its
the community it seeks to serve. work. Accountability and transparency
In this chapter, we will explore how are two values all NGOs must share.
an NGO develops values, vision and Your NGO should discuss and agree on
mission statements to guide its work. others that are important to who you are.
We will follow the steps taken to found Some NGOs identify values related to the
the hypothetical NGO Young Women quality of their work, while others define
their values in relation to how they work
with others. Still others choose values
that say something about their view of
TRY THIS… the world.
For example, Young Women Unite
AN ACTIVITY TO CREATE A VISION might state its core values as:
STATEMENT ➠ Non-violence — All women and girls
Have your board, staff and key volunteers have the right to live in violence-free
work in small groups. Give the groups large families and communities.
pieces of paper and markers to discuss and ➠ Respect — All women and girls have
depict their vision using words, pictures or the right to be treated with respect and
a combination of both. Questions to spark dignity.
the discussion could include: What will our ➠ Empowerment — All women and
community look like? What will people’s girls have a right to make their own
lives be like? What will they be doing? Then decisions and control their own lives.
ask the groups to share their visions. Discuss ➠ Partnership — Civil society must
them and identify the common elements. work together to bring about peaceful
Task two to three people to craft a concise communities. No single NGO or other
vision statement. entity can do it alone.

➠ Community Leadership — Efforts to
build peaceful communities should
be led by women and girls from the
community. Ask each member of the leadership team
Once an NGO’s leaders agree on their to trace his or her hand on a piece of paper.
core values, they should use them to guide Then have each person write a value they
decisions about: believe should guide the organization
➠ Projects and activities. For example, on each finger on the paper. Next, put
Young Women Unite’s first project was people in pairs or small groups and ask
them to share their hands. The members
a series of “Know Your Rights” work-
of each group agree on the five or six most
shops for women, with messages and
important values they have in common.
approaches based on the NGO’s core
Then ask each team to write out its list and
values. This initiative focused on build-
post it on a wall. After assessing each list,
ing the participants’ critical thinking
you likely will find a core set of values that
and empowering them to speak out.
everyone shares.
➠ Internal operations. An NGO’s
employees should be treated in a way
that reflects the organization’s values.
Young Women Unite made sure it not to add them to the list, make sure
always treated its staff, volunteers those who stated them are comfortable
and constituents with respect. It also not including them. Try to agree on a final
nurtured young women to move into list of four to seven core values. More than
leadership positions in the organization. that will blur the focus of your NGO.
➠ External relations. Young Women Unite
ended a partnership with another NGO
because it did not respect the ideas and
opinions of young women.
It is important to discuss each value A vision statement describes how you
and define what it means to the group. want the world to be. It is a picture of
Sometimes, people use different words to the world you seek to create. It tells how
mean the same thing. One person might people’s lives, communities or society at
say “nondiscrimination” while another large will be better as a result of your
says “inclusiveness,” but they both mean NGO’s work. A vision statement is big
that the NGO should serve and involve and bold, such as Young Women Unite’s:
all segments of the community. Other We envision a society in which all
times, people use the same word but mean people are safe in their homes, schools
different things. Two people might list and communities; are treated with respect
“leadership,” but one means the NGO and dignity; and have equal opportunities
should strive to be a leader in its field to develop and activate their leadership
while the other means the NGO should abilities.
train leaders. It is a good idea to involve the
There might also be values that only community you serve in drafting your
one or two people identify. You should NGO’s vision.
discuss these as well and include them in
your core values if the group agrees that
they are important. If the group decides

A real NGO called Young Women United in Albuquerque, New Mexico, supports the well-being
of women of color, improving health and education and reducing violence. This eye-catching art is
from a recruitment flyer that states the NGO’s mission, and contact and meeting information.
(Courtesy of Young Women United)

An NGO’s vision statement is a things on its own. Making this vision a

powerful tool for motivating staff and reality takes the combined efforts of many
volunteers and inspiring others to join groups working together.
you. For example, the staff of Young
Women Unite has been working hard and
is tired. The leadership team organizes
a day where the board and staff come
together to share a meal and re-energize
themselves. Each one reads the vision out An NGO’s mission statement concisely
loud and talks about what it means to her. states the main purpose of the
Similarly, when members of the board or organization. It answers the question
staff are out in the community recruiting of why you exist. It describes who you
volunteers, they talk about how the Young are, what you do and the end results you
Women Unite’s vision and mission inspired seek. For some NGOs, it might identify
them to get involved. a geographic region or specific target
Different NGOs can share a common population you serve.
vision for what they are trying to build. Mission statements have two parts. The
It is likely that a number of them share first is the core mission statement — the
a vision of a world where all people and one or two sentences that communicate
families have access to quality housing, what you do and the long-term changes
health care, jobs and education. But no you work to achieve. The second part
single organization can achieve all these briefly describes the strategies or types of

activities you use to achieve your mission. ➠ When an NGO gets started and has
Here is the mission statement for Young limited resources, it needs to think
Women Unite: carefully about finding projects that are
The mission of Young Women Unite fundamental to achieving the mission.
is to build the capacity of young women Young Women Unite might decide that
to end violence in our community. We do its target population needs information
this by: about the issues surrounding violence
➠ Providing educational workshops and about their rights to do something
in schools and community
➠ Training peer educators to be
youth leaders who teach others
and speak out on this issue.
➠ Developing curricula
and training for other
organizations to conduct
workshops in their

Do some research to write

a sharply focused mission
statement. At the outset, the
founders of Young Women Unite
knew they wanted to combat
violence in their community,
particularly against women. But
to determine their NGO’s exact
mission, they needed to research
what others in the community
were already doing to address
the problem. They found that
one women’s group focused on
intervening directly in domestic
conflicts and another nurtured
youth leadership, but no one
ran educational programs to
end community violence. The
research helped Young Women
Unite define their mission, which
filled a gap in the community and
complements the work of other
NGOs. The mission statement Nepalese women from the Bakduwa Paralegal
guides an NGO’s leaders in choosing Committee meet regularly in their remote village of
what projects and activities to carry out, Joganiya, Saptari District. Such committees, active
throughout Nepal to fight discrimination and
especially during important points in an abuses, operate like NGOs. They were set up with
NGO’s lifecycle. the help of UNICEF as part of an anti-trafficking
program. (Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty)

TRY THIS… it has the capacity to address other
community needs.
NGOs are more likely to change the
WRITING A MISSION STATEMENT second half of their mission statement
Whether you are drafting your first mission — describing core strategies and
statement or revising your existing one, activities — than the first half, which
writing this document is not easy. You describes the NGO’s primary purpose.
might start by having the NGO’s leaders NGOs commonly revise their strategies
agree on the key words or concepts that and activities in response to shifting
best communicate who you are and why community needs or changes in the
you exist. Then you might assign a small environment. When Young Women
group to put the key words and concepts Unite was founded, it focused on its
together into one or two concise sentences. peer-educator initiative and “Know
It is a good idea to prepare several different Your Rights” workshops, which brought
options to choose from. Share them with down community violence in a few years.
a few people outside the NGO to get Noticing its success, several other youth
feedback. It might be helpful to study organizations contacted Young Women
mission statements from other NGOs Unite to request similar workshops for
as models. their members and volunteers. After
reassessing their values, vision and
mission, Young Women Unite’s leaders
about it, so they start with “Know Your decided to expand their NGO’s work
Rights” workshops. by training other NGOs to deliver
➠ When an NGO is growing, it is educational workshops.
important to make sure new projects NGOs should revisit their values, vision
and activities are closely aligned with and mission statements every three to five
the mission. NGOs at this stage should years. As your NGO matures, it will need
be sure to seek out and accept only input from stakeholders, including its
funding that supports their mission. community members, project participants,
➠ When an NGO faces funding cuts partners and even funders. Find out if
and must end a project or let staff go, your stakeholders understand your NGO’s
think about which projects are most values, vision and mission. Do they think
fundamental to your mission. they are still relevant and, if not, what
changes do they suggest? In addition,
An NGO should periodically review and
update its mission statement. The best
time to do this is at the beginning of a
strategic planning process. As your NGO
matures, it will likely refine its mission to
better capture what your NGO is uniquely
suited to do. An NGO that began with ➠ Is the mission still needed?
a broad mission may decide to narrow ➠ Have the community’s needs or
it to provide clearer direction and focus. conditions changed?
Or, an NGO that began with a narrow ➠ Does the mission statement reflect who
mission may decide to broaden it because we really are and what we really do?

revisiting the values, vision and mission
provides new members the opportunity
to shape and take ownership of these
statements. It is common for an NGO to PUT YOUR VALUES, VISION AND
make small changes and refinements to
its values, vision and mission statements Often, the people who found an NGO
every few years. However, an NGO that neglect to put their values, vision and
radically changes its core principles often mission into writing. This is a fundamental
will not be seen as stable, and supporters mistake. Later, as new members join the
might lose confidence in it. organization, they might bring in different
values. It is important for the NGO’s leaders
to discuss and formally agree in writing on
COMMUNICATING YOUR VALUES, the shared values that will guide the NGO.
VISION AND MISSION Without the written statements, you risk
running into serious disagreements.
An NGO must communicate its
values, vision and mission to all of its
stakeholders: project participants, the
broader community, and current and ➠ If you have a website, post your values,
potential funders and partners. If they are vision and mission publicly and make
going to trust you, work with you, support sure they are easy to find. Many NGOs
you and hold you accountable, then they put them under “About Us” or “Who
need to understand who you are and what we are and what we do.”
you do. NGO leaders also need to make ➠ Provide orientation and training on the
sure that the staff, board members and values, vision and mission to all board
volunteers fully understand the values, members, staff and volunteers. These
vision and mission, and reinforce them in are your NGO’s ambassadors. They
their day-to-day work. Communication must be able to communicate your
is at the heart of achieving this NGO’s values, vision and mission.
understanding. ➠ When you meet prospective partners,
allies, supporters or donors, start by
➠ When you recruit new people to join explaining your values, vision and
your organization, share your values mission. Prepare a one-page sheet with
and vision with them. Ask them how your formal statements and a folder
they understand and relate to them. with information about your projects,
Someone who does not share your flyers, and a few photos of what you do.
values or believe in your mission should
not be invited to join. In the business world, companies sell
➠ When you have board and staff tangible merchandise and services, for
meetings, write your values, vision and example, a computer, a television, a table,
mission statement up on large sheets of an airplane ride. As an NGO, you sell
paper and place them where everyone your values, vision and mission. If you
can see them. Start your meeting by cannot communicate them effectively, you
reading them aloud, then use them to will not be able to get others to buy them.
guide discussions and decisions.

➠ Community Leadership — Efforts
to build peaceful communities should
An NGO’s values, vision and mission all be led by women and girls from
work together and feed into one another. the community.
The mission flows from the vision, and
they both need to be aligned with the OUR VISION
values. Together, they tell a powerful story We envision a society in which all people
about what your NGO stands for. are safe in their homes, schools and
communities; are treated with respect
and dignity; and have equal opportunities
to develop and activate their leadership
➠ Non-violence — All women and girls OUR MISSION
have the right to live in violence-free The mission of Young Women Unite is to
families and communities. build the capacity of young women to end
➠ Respect — All women and girls have violence in our community. We do this by:
the right to be treated with respect ➠ Providing educational workshops in
and dignity. schools and community centers.
➠ Empowerment — All women and ➠ Training peer educators to be youth
girls have the right to make their own leaders who inform others and speak
decisions and have control over out on this issue.
their lives. ➠ Developing curricula and training other
➠ Partnership — Civil society must organizations to conduct workshops in
work together to bring about peaceful their communities.
communities. No single organization
can do it alone.

Your NGO should have a plan that sets out
clear goals for advancing your mission and
identifies projects that will accomplish
those goals. Then, you fundraise for your
priorities! When you find an opportunity
for new funding or a new partnership,
stop and ask: Does it fit our mission? An
NGO that drifts away from its mission for
the sake of funding can soon find itself
running unrelated projects. As a result,
the organization can become fragmented,
its impact will be diminished, and its
stakeholders may lose confidence.


(© 2003-2012 Shutterstock Images LLC)

nce your NGO has a clear mission,
you have to translate it into projects
and activities that the community
needs, wants and values. Query FORM A STRATEGIC PLANNING
your community to make sure they COMMITTEE
welcome your initiatives. When projects You need strategic planning. The best way
are thoughtfully designed, carefully to carry out the task is to create a strategic
planned, and rigorously carried out by planning committee made up of three to
qualified people, they will have an impact. five board and staff members. This group
If your NGO can show that its work will decide the approach to use, identify key
makes a difference in people’s lives and questions, and develop a work plan with
communities, your stakeholders — the tasks, responsibilities and timelines.
community, donors and partners — will
likely support you for many years.
This chapter walks you through the
steps to plan, evaluate and manage your development, new partnerships and
NGO’s work. We provide examples drawn allocation of resources, especially staff
from Youth Voices for Democracy, a time and money. It provides a basis for
hypothetical NGO that educates youth monitoring progress and assessing results.
about democracy and increases their NGOs use various approaches to
community participation. strategic planning. Some spend months
gathering input from a broad range
of stakeholders, including the board,
staff, project participants, partner
Planning keeps you focused on your goals organizations, funders and others, before
and enables you to organize your work drawing up their strategic plan. Others
and allocate your resources efficiently. bring board and staff together for a
NGOs that plan do better than ones that one-day brainstorming meeting to do
do not because they have clear direction the same thing. Regardless of how you
and focus. With planning, you will do it, the planning process involves the
anticipate problems and prevent them or following steps:
solve them before they become crises. Here
we discuss two broad types of planning: 1. Identify the key issues and questions.
strategic planning and project planning. Strategic planning is an opportunity to
step back and look at the big picture
What is Strategic Planning? of your organization. Our hypothetical
Strategic planning is a systematic way Youth Voices for Democracy might
of assessing where your NGO is now want to answer the question: Do we
and where it wants to be in the future. want to and are we ready to grow?
It answers questions about what it will If so, how much and what type of
look like, what it will be doing and what growth is manageable? Or Youth
it will have accomplished five to 10 years Voices might have learned that several
from now. A strategic plan starts from of its funders are planning to reduce
an NGO’s values, vision and mission, their contributions. In light of that, the
then lays out its direction, priorities NGO needs to refocus its operations on
and goals. The plan keeps an NGO on projects that are core to its mission.
mission. It guides decisions about project

S trengths
3. Hold a meeting to discuss the findings
of the SWOT analysis and make
decisions about priorities, goals and

W eaknesses Once you have done a SWOT, you will

be prepared to set relevant and realistic
goals for the organization. Based on
what they learned from the SWOT

O pportunities analysis, Youth Voices has set goals for

strengthening its internal systems —
improving management structures and

T hreats
providing more training for staff — and
for improving current projects. It also
has decided not to take on new projects
over the next three years.

Use SWOT to analyze your Strengths, Weaknesses, 4. Prepare a final strategic plan.
Opportunities and Threats.
You need to write the results of your
analysis and prioritizing in a final
2. Give your NGO a SWOT. document that serves as your strategic
It is vital that you step back from plan. It does not have to be elaborate
your day-to-day work and assess or lengthy. Most NGOs prepare
your NGO’s strengths, weaknesses, simple one- or two-page documents
opportunities and threats. This is called that present the NGO’s values, vision,
a SWOT analysis. mission and main goals. Others are
The quickest and easiest way is to more thorough and include the findings
have board members, staff and key of the SWOT along with detailed
volunteers conduct this analysis. These objectives for each goal.
key players know a great deal about
the organization and its environment.
If time and resources allow, get outside
perspectives as well, especially from
project participants, funders, volunteers TRY THIS…
and organizational partners. You can
do this by using surveys, interviews, HOLD AN ALL-DAY PLANNING MEETING
community meetings or focus groups. The best way to set your future directions
A SWOT analysis helps you grasp and goals is through a planning meeting
the key issues facing your organization where you bring the board and staff
and make wise decisions about how to together for at least one day to make
address them. Youth Voices wants to decisions. If circumstances permit, meet
grow, but through the SWOT analysis, somewhere outside of your day-to-day
it learns that its internal systems are workspace so you will not have distractions.
weak and its staff is unprepared for At the meeting, you should review and
expansion. So Youth Voices instead update the organization’s values, vision and
decides to focus on building internal mission, then set broad goals for the NGO’s
capacity for the next year to prepare projects, as well as for building the capacity
for expansion. and infrastructure of the organization.

WHAT’S THIS? have a website, post the plan on it.
If you send out a newsletter, include
the plan in it.
A focus group brings together about 10 to 6. Carry out and monitor the plan.
15 people for a guided discussion about An NGO’s board, staff and key
a particular topic. You could hold a focus volunteers all need to work together
group with project participants to learn to make sure the final plan gets
what they think is working well, what could implemented. The executive director
work better, and what difference the project sees to it that all of the NGO’s projects
makes in their lives. A focus group should and activities are aligned with the
be led by an experienced moderator using plan and that staff understand its
carefully developed questions and last one goals and organize the work around
to two hours. it. The board of directors also needs
to align its priorities with the plan. If
the plan calls for a project that needs
5. Share the plan with your stakeholders. new resources and expertise, then the
Send a copy to your funders and your board might need to set objectives for
partners. You can hold a community raising additional funds and recruiting
meeting to present the plan to your new board members with the needed
constituency. Make a special effort to expertise. At a minimum, the board
give project participants who provided should formally review the plan once a
input for the plan the opportunity to year to assess progress.
comment and make suggestions. If you Strategic planning helps an NGO

Somali organizers discuss strategy at a training session offered by Mosaica. (Courtesy of Mosaica)

What is Project Planning?
TRY THIS… A project plan sets goals and objectives for
a specific project, identifies the resources
INVOLVE THE COMMUNITY YOU SERVE needed to achieve it, and lays out the key
IN PLANNING tasks, responsibilities and a timeline.
When you plan a project, form a community Whether your NGO is developing
advisory committee to provide input and its first projects or continuing long-
feedback on project plans. This advisory established ones, you must have in-
committee can continue to meet regularly depth knowledge of the community
as you implement the project to review you serve. In the past, NGOs and their
its progress and provide suggestions for donors emphasized the needs part of the
improvement. Because they know the assessment. Today, growing numbers of
community well, a community advisory NGOs also are assessing the strengths
committee can identify solutions to and assets that community members can
problems you may run into. For example, contribute to solve their problems. In
if your project faces a high number of conducting its assessment, your NGO
drop-outs, the committee could identify should ask community members about the
additional participants. knowledge and experience they already
have, as well as things they are interested
in learning and doing.
remain relevant and responsive to the Suppose Youth Voices for Democracy
needs of its community. It brings focus has held educational workshops
and common purpose to its leaders. to teach youths about their rights
NGOs should carry out strategic
planning every three to five years. Some
may find at the end of three years that
things are going well, the environment WHAT’S THIS?
is stable, and they just need to keep
doing what they have been doing. NEEDS AND ASSETS ASSESSMENT
Others might find that things have
An NGO should carry out a systematic
changed. Maybe the NGO has new staff
assessment of the needs and assets of its
and board members who do not share a
target community (e.g., neighborhood
common vision, or perhaps other NGOs
or village) or target population (e.g.,
are doing similar work and competition unemployed youth or pregnant women
for funding is greater. In this case, it with HIV). Form a team that includes both
would be helpful for the NGO to go staff and community members to lead
through the in-depth planning process the assessment.
again and develop a new plan. A typical assessment involves surveying
Sometimes, NGOs face major threats a sample of community residents or the
or unexpected opportunities — e.g., target population. Also, find out if the data
the loss of a grant or a change in the that you seek has already been collected by
political environment — before they government agencies, international NGOs
reach their three-year goals. When that or universities. You might also consider
happens, an NGO may need to change partnering with a university to conduct the
course quickly. survey. Once you have the results, the team
Once an NGO has its strategic plan, can review them to identify priorities for
it will need to do project planning. new projects or advocacy.

and responsibilities in a democratic
society. Now, Youth Voices wants
to expand the project in a particular
low-income neighborhood to support ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION TO THE
youth involvement in the community.
By carrying out a needs and assets While a formal strategic planning process
assessment, Youth Voices can identify is an important time to assess the external
not only the individuals to enroll in the environment, an NGO’s leadership should
program but also the knowledge and skills always be monitoring what is happening
they bring with them. The assessment in the community, region, country and
might find that youth who are out of beyond. At their regular meetings, board
school have no access to computers. As and staff should discuss what is going on
a result, they have low computer literacy outside of the NGO: with the economy,
and little familiarity with social media government, donors, etc., and discuss any
emerging threats or opportunities.
tools that help youth access information,

connect to other youth

groups, and organize their
neighborhood. At the same
time, the assessment might find
that youth are eager to learn
and have ideas to improve their
community. So Youth Voices
might decide to open a new
computer learning center as a
first step.
Projects based on a careful
assessment of needs and
strengths are likely to be
relevant, useful and trusted
by the target audience, raising
their chances for success.
Once you have determined the
needs and interests of your
target audience, you are ready
to develop a detailed project
plan. There are many different
formats for this. Often,
international donors have
particular formats they want
their grantees to use. Find out
One of the goals of hypothetical NGO Youth Voices if this is so and make sure
for Democracy is to provide young people with
computers. This child in Peru benefited from the
you use them.
real NGO One Laptop Per Child project that A project plan needs to define what
donated small laptops to schoolchildren in you want to accomplish for the target
Arahuay, an Andean village. (© AP Images/Martin Mejia) population. In other words, what will

Certain If you have If you If you deliver If these benefits
resources are access to accomplish the product to participants
needed to resources, your planned or service you are achieved,
operate your then you can activities, then intended, then then certain
program. use them to you may deliver your participants changes in
accomplish the amount of will benefit in organizations,
your planned product and/or certain ways. communities or
activities. service that you systems might
intended. follow.


1 2 3 4 5


(See Resource Appendix A on page 35 for a sample logic model for Youth Voices’ new Computer Learning Center.)

be different in the lives of people who the changing needs of the community
participate in the project? The plan also and your own experience. For example,
describes what your NGO will do and the after Youth Voices opened its new
resources it needs to achieve these results. computer learning center, it found that
One format for a project plan is called some participants wanted to build on
a Logic Model. This helps you map out a their new skills and start an Internet radio
project, starting with what you want to show. Youth Voices then added a new
achieve and working backward to describe technology training component focused
the activities you believe will produce on radio production.
those outcomes. From there, identify
the resources needed to carry out those
Although you read a Logic Model from Evaluation is the systematic assessment of
left to right, it helps to work from right to the outcomes, quality and performance
left as you develop it. of a project, activity or the organization
When read from left to right, Logic as a whole. Evaluation is a tool for
Models describe program basics over time answering the question: What difference
from planning through results. Reading a did our work make in people’s lives and
Logic Model means following the chain of communities? In other words, it measures
reasoning or “If...then...” statements that what you achieved for the people you
connect the program’s parts. serve. NGOs need to assess community
Once you have developed a project plan needs and strengths regularly, and evaluate
using a Logic Model or another tool, you the results of their projects.
will need a more detailed work plan. An evaluation should ask:
As your NGO matures, you will adjust ➠ What did we do that worked?
your projects and activities according to ➠ What could have worked better?

WHAT’S THIS? and improving their lives. They can
share stories about particular individuals
whose lives have been transformed. Many
WORK PLAN NGOs also keep track of the number of
A work plan is a detailed description of people they serve. For example, Youth
who will do what by when. It ensures the Voices counted the number of youth who
activities are carried out in a timely manner. attended classes at the computer learning
Written work plans allow staff and key center each month and the number of
volunteers to organize their time efficiently youth reached through its “Introduction
and hold each other accountable. In to Democracy” workshops.
contrast, a project plan describes a project’s But for NGOs to be truly accountable
goals and objectives, the sequence of to their stakeholders and to their mission,
activities and resources needed. they must also quantify the outcomes,
such as higher student test scores or higher
numbers of students who demonstrated
➠ Why did certain things work (or not ability to apply what they learned in the
work)? workshops to their jobs.
➠ What did we learn and how can we use The first step of evaluation is to define
that knowledge to strengthen our work? the outcomes you want a project to
Every day, an NGO’s staff and achieve. Do this at the design phase of
volunteers see the people they serve a project. Going back to Youth Voices’
learning new skills, achieving their goals computer learning center and their

“You Choose!” is the catch phase during a voter education campaign in Bulgaria. During local elections
a young activist in Veliko Turnovo hands out information to encourage voting in the community.
(Center Amalite/USAID)

REMEMBER… with the time and resources you have.
If you create a plan with many ways of
collecting information at many points in
EVALUATION: A TOOL FOR time, it may be too complicated and time-
ACCOUNTABILITY consuming to implement. Once you agree
An NGO’s public promise to its stakeholders on your approach, you should:
— especially the community it serves, its ➠ Train all staff, volunteers and
partners and its donors — is not just to participants who will be collecting data
carry out activities, but to make a difference to use the collection tools properly.
in people’s lives and in society. To be ➠ Set up a system for storing the data.
accountable to your stakeholders, you Assign someone to set up and maintain
should report the results of your activities to a file — in a file cabinet and/or on a
them. Tell them what difference your NGO computer — for all the tests, surveys or
made. You measure results by evaluation. notes from interviews and focus groups.
➠ Choose a small group of people to
compile the data. This could include
Internet radio training project, the desired collecting test results or putting all the
outcomes for participants were to: survey comments into one list.
➠ Acquire the technological skills to ➠ Have a mix of staff, volunteers and
produce an Internet radio show. possibly participants review the data
➠ Learn how to develop program content and identify the key findings. Did
for a radio show. participants gain new knowledge and
➠ Apply these skills to produce a weekly, skills? Were they able to apply them?
one-hour radio show about a topic of Why or why not?
interest to youth in the community. ➠ Use the evaluation results to improve
➠ Have greater confidence to speak out on your project. If an evaluation finds
issues that concern them. that participants are not learning a
The next step is to determine how to
measure the outcomes. Youth Voices
could collect data in a number of ways.
They could administer a test to assess REMEMBER…
participants’ knowledge and skills at
the beginning and again at the end of COLLECT THE NUMBERS AND
the project to measure how much they THE STORIES
learned. Project staff and volunteers
Numbers are important. You need to track
could write down their observations each the number of people you serve and the
month, noting changes they see in each percentage that achieve your targeted
participant’s skill and confidence. They outcomes. But stories are equally important,
could hold focus groups at the beginning, so you need to collect them. After each
middle and end of the project to ask workshop, get quotes from participants to
participants for feedback. What are they capture what they learned. Contact a few of
learning? How are they using what they them several months after the workshop to
learn? What more do they want to learn find out how they have applied what they
and what will they do with their new learned. Write that up in a paragraph you
skills after the project? can place in a newsletter or proposal. But
Your NGO’s staff and volunteers should always get permission to use their name
agree on an evaluation plan that is feasible and story!

Members of Alternativa, an NGO advancing the rights of the Roma community in Biala Slatina, Bulgaria,
participate in a World Bank Development 360 project. (Scott Wallace/The World Bank)

particular skill, consider revising the evaluation, including formulating the

training curriculum or finding better key questions, gathering and analyzing
trainers. Too often, the results are the data, identifying the key findings
sent to donors but are not used to help and lessons learned, and developing the
NGOs improve their programs. recommendations and action plan to
➠ Summarize the data and share your improve project performance.
analysis. Evaluation helps you tell your If Youth Voices decides to use
story to stakeholders. It provides you participatory methods to evaluate its
with both data and anecdotes that radio project, participants themselves
demonstrate how your work makes will help decide what to evaluate and
a difference. what questions to ask. They will also
When NGO leaders invest in evaluation be involved in collecting data, such as
and involve everyone in the organization, designing and conducting a survey of
it is a powerful tool for learning, community members who have listened
improvement and growth. to the broadcasts to find out how much
they learned. Or the participants might
What is Participatory Evaluation? record their own observations about how
Participatory evaluation invites project community members used the broadcast
participants and stakeholders, such information.
as family members and teachers of When stakeholders — especially
youth participants, to help shape and community members — are involved
carry out evaluation. Stakeholders in designing and carrying out an
are typically involved at all steps of evaluation, the results are likely to be

more relevant and useful to the NGO
and the community.
Just as you need many kinds of plans, you To govern an NGO effectively, the board
need many systems for managing your of directors should review evaluation
NGO. Decide who has responsibility for findings across projects annually, at least.
each aspect: money, people, projects and In reviewing results, the board needs to
facilities. Because Youth Voices is a small discuss where the NGO’s work is having
NGO, the executive director is responsible the most impact and the least impact. The
for most of its organizational management board can then decide if projects need to
while the staff is responsible for managing be changed to ensure the NGO meets the
projects. As the NGO grows and hires overall goals in its strategic plan.
additional staff, however, someone other
than the executive director may take on
specific management roles, such as for staff often have to take on additional
finances or human resources. projects or administrative tasks. When
Like any manager in business or Youth Voices prepares for a site visit
government, an NGO manager is from a funder, the office needs to be
responsible for planning, organizing cleaned, the files need to be organized,
and monitoring tasks needed for an and several project participants should
organization to run smoothly. But the be prepared to attend the meeting and
context is different for an NGO. Its share their experiences. These tasks do
work often is difficult to measure and not fall under anyone’s job description
communicate. Its goals are ambitious and everyone needs to help. The
but its resources are limited. It works to executive director should call a staff
improve people’s lives and communities, meeting to review the tasks that need
not make a profit. It faces multiple — and to get done and assign the additional
sometimes competing — demands from responsibilities. This way everyone
its stakeholders, many of whom have knows who is responsible for what.
different expectations for what the NGO Good managers do not just delegate
should do and how it should operate. An responsibility. They also make sure
NGO is rarely fully staffed, so individual people have the authority, resources,
staff members often fill multiple roles. knowledge and skills to get the job
Funding limitations mean the staff works done. If the executive director of Youth
without adequate training, equipment, Voices sets up a system for making sure
supplies or facilities. bills are paid and reports to donors are
In this environment, basic management sent out on time, she will assign specific
tasks are both more critical and more responsibilities to staff members, train
challenging for NGOs. them on the system, create a master
calendar of deadlines, then monitor
What are Management Tasks? their work.
1. Assigning people and resources to
tasks. Staff should have written job 2. Motivating people. Some people who
descriptions that define their primary work for an NGO are highly motivated
responsibilities, but in small NGOs, by the organization’s mission. They

devote their careers to civil society 4. Ensuring communication and
because they want to make a difference. coordination. Organizational managers
This is often the case with an NGO’s look at the NGO as a whole. They
first staff members who work long need to make sure that staff assigned to
and hard to establish the NGO. As the different projects or areas communicate
NGO grows and hires new staff, the with each other. In the fast-paced
newcomers may not all share the same environment of an NGO, staff members
commitment to the NGO’s mission. sometimes neglect to share information
A good manager inspires the staff to or ask for help. To avert this, Youth
believe in the organization’s mission Voices holds regular staff meetings
and support its goals. A good manager to review the status of all projects.
helps the staff see how their tasks, This regular communication has
however big or small, contribute to the many benefits. For example, when the
success of the NGO. staff members leading Youth Voices’
educational workshops learn about the
3. Monitoring activities to make sure new radio program, they encourage
plans are accomplished. If plans are not their workshop participants to listen
accomplished, the NGO manager must and suggest topics for future programs.
figure out why and solve the problem.
While reviewing the reports prepared What is Participatory Management?
by project staff, Youth Voices’ executive As an NGO manager, you also will have
director finds that one staff member’s to create structures for management and
reports lack information required by decision making. A number of approaches
the funder. In discussing the problem are available to you. The participatory
with this staff member, she learned that approach involves staff in programmatic
the employee never received a copy of and management decisions. A manager
the requirements and that the project asks staff for input, then makes the
did not have a system for collecting the decision alone. In the team approach,
needed data. After discovering what the senior staff make decisions collectively.
problem was, the executive director was In the fully democratic approach, all staff
able to find a solution. Good managers and managers discuss and reach consensus
identify problems and make corrections on major decisions. However you manage
before they become crises. your NGO, you should find ways to
involve staff and create a formal structure
through which they can add their input.
This will help build a sense of ownership
REMEMBER… and investment in the NGO, its work and
its future.
SOME NGOs HAVE FEW OR Above all, good managers understand
NO PAID STAFF that people — whether paid staff,
In NGOs with no paid staff, board members, volunteers or board members — are an
or other volunteers supervised by the NGO’s greatest asset. An NGO’s ability
board, must manage the organization and to deliver high-quality work depends
its programs. Even when an NGO hires directly on the skills, energy, commitment
paid staff, board members may continue and talents of the people who carry out
some management responsibilities such as the work. NGO managers need to invest
maintaining the organization’s finances. in their people. This means making sure

that staff members get training to do their
jobs effectively and opportunities to grow
It can be hard for executive directors, MAKE SURE YOUR STAFF UNDERSTAND
especially those who are founders of an
NGO, to delegate tasks to others. But for
an NGO to succeed, its staff members Sometimes NGO executive directors are
need to grow. Executive directors and good at communicating the NGO’s values,
other managers must be willing to entrust vision and mission to partners and funders,
tasks to others. but their staff do not fully understand
Finally, as an NGO manager, you need the organization’s purpose. NGO leaders
to create a positive work environment should continuously show staff — through
training, staff meetings, and one-on-one
in which all staff and volunteers are
conversations — how they contribute to the
treated with respect and recognized
NGO’s values, vision and mission.
for their contributions. You can
recognize individual staff members’
accomplishments with something as
simple as a “thank you” at a staff meeting. will have more confidence that their
When a team has worked particularly resources are being used wisely and for
hard on a project, you might take them the proper purposes.
to lunch and feature their efforts in your
newsletter. Spending small sums in your
NGO budget for staff and volunteer
recognition is appropriate. People Good planning, evaluation and
who work for an NGO need to know management are the foundation that
their commitment and competence are supports all of your NGO’s projects
recognized and valued. and activities. When you take time to
Good managers and good management plan, your projects are more likely to
practices are crucial for an NGO to address community needs. When you pay
sustain itself over time. Even the smallest attention to management, your projects
organizations need to set up basic systems will be effective and efficient. And when
for management. Suppose you raise your you invest in evaluation, you will be
first $500 at a community fundraiser. able to document your results and see
You should immediately record who gave where you can improve. In each of these
you the donations, keep track of how you areas, an NGO needs to define roles and
spend the money, and maintain a file with responsibilities and set up suitable systems.
all of your receipts.
As your NGO grows, you will have
more things to manage: projects, activities,
people, money, relationships. You can
develop more sophisticated systems as you
need them. Once you begin to raise larger
sums of money from multiple sources, you
should invest in financial management
software and develop detailed accounting
procedures. When donors and supporters
see that an NGO is well managed, they

Resource Appendix A


$100,000 – Computer Thirty youth Immediate/ • Computer lit-
covers all project training classes will complete short-term (after eracy becomes
costs for youth ages six months 6 months): widespread in
18-25 years of computer the neighbor-
• 90% of youth
Major costs: training (eight hood served by
hours a week). Youth Voices.
• 25% of NGO skills in
director’s time Windows, MS
• Knowledge
Word, and Excel
• 1 part-time and use of
by completing
computer social media
defined tasks
instructor tools become
and passing
• 15 computers standardized
and related tests developed
• Overall higher
equipment (half by Youth Voices.
level of youth
• 85% of youth engagement
• Operating demonstrate around
costs (space skills in usage neighborhood
rental, utilities, of social media and community
supplies) tools, including issues.
Facebook and
Twitter, by
defined tasks.
• 80% of youth
set up their
own email and
create their own
Facebook page.

(within one year):
• 70% of youth
who complete
the training
become involved
in an existing
• 50% of youth
organize their
own initiative
to address a


(© Kai Chiang/Golden Pixels LLC/Corbis)

he board of directors is the body
responsible for governing an
organization. It makes sure that the
NGO has what it needs to carry out YOU NEED A BOARD FROM
its mission, and that it does so legally,
ethically and effectively. Ultimately, When you start an NGO, one of the first
the board is accountable to the NGO’s things to do is recruit a few people to be the
community, donors, partners and other founding board of directors. The founding
stakeholders. board can help you get work done, such
In this chapter, we will follow the board as writing your first proposals or attending
of the hypothetical Clean Streets, Healthy meetings with potential partners. More
Children, an NGO that deals with urban importantly, this group gives you feedback
sanitation and children’s health. We will on your ideas and advice on how to move
see how the board helps its NGO navigate forward. As you build the NGO, you need
people to challenge your ideas or proposed
through challenges and threats.
actions. A board provides the checks and
If your NGO is just starting out, your
balances that keep your NGO accountable
board need not engage in the full range
and legitimate.
of governance responsibilities discussed
here. But you do need to assemble a
founding board, typically three or four
people to help you set your NGO’s values, of Clean Streets, Healthy Children’s
vision and mission and build up your largest funders withdraws its support,
relationships. Every member must know the board decides how to handle the
good governance practices so the board loss. The board takes a hard look at the
can fulfill its prime mission of making strategic plan and identifies the projects
sure the NGO remains transparent, that are critical to the NGO’s mission
accountable and legitimate. and those that are expendable.

2. Making sure the NGO has the

resources it needs. Boards raise
money, collect in-kind contributions
1. Setting the NGO’s values, vision, and recruit volunteers. Boards set the
mission and goals. The board provides fundraising goals and work with staff
the overall direction to an NGO. The to meet them. It is up to each NGO to
founding board usually sets the values, determine its requirements in terms of
vision and mission at the time of its staff and resources. It is the board’s
establishment. The board reviews the job to make sure the NGO has what it
guiding principles every few years and needs to carry out its mission. In Clean
makes sure that the NGO’s long-term Streets, Healthy Children, the executive
goals are aligned with the principles director generally writes the funding
through a strategic planning process. requests to prospective donors, but the
If an NGO engages in advocacy, the board organizes fundraising events and
board should set advocacy priorities schedules meetings with individuals and
and positions. businesses to ask for contributions.
When an NGO faces a threat or
opportunity, the board makes decisions
about what to do. For example, if one

3. Making sure finances are well
managed. Financial oversight is
one of the board’s most important
responsibilities. Making sure that CONFLICT OF INTEREST
money is spent wisely and appropriately A conflict of interest arises when the
keeps your NGO accountable to your personal or private interests of a board
funders and community, so boards member are at odds with the interests of
must regularly review financial reports. the NGO. Such a conflict may prevent a
The staff of Clean Streets, Healthy board member from making an objective
Children prepares the annual budget, decision. Your NGO needs an explicit
but the board approves it. Board conflict of interest policy that requires board
members who cannot attend a budget members to disclose any conflicts of interest
or finance meeting need to get copies of and remove themselves from the related
the documents, review them and send discussion and decision.
questions before or after the meeting. Let’s say Clean Streets, Healthy Children
All board members are responsible wants to speak out publicly against a
for the board’s decisions and actions, company that is dumping waste into the
regardless of their attendance at water supply. One of the board members
has a business relationship with the
every meeting.
polluting company and does not want
to jeopardize his relationship with it. This
4. Ensuring that an NGO’s work is
board member needs to disclose the
effective. Your board regularly reviews
relationship and withdraw from related
your NGO’s projects and activities —
discussions and decisions.
through updates from the executive
director and evaluation reports. It
then assesses whether the projects and
activities are advancing the NGO’s ➠ Announce the job opening.
mission and goals. In the event of a ➠ Review resumes to identify the
negative assessment, the board may strongest candidates.
need to make a decision to end or ➠ Interview these candidates.
restructure a project, or start a new ➠ Make a decision about the best
project that better meets community candidate based on the NGO’s needs.
needs. To be effective monitors, all Once hired, the executive director
board members must be familiar with reports to the board of directors.
all of the NGO’s activities. They should The board provides feedback and
visit projects to meet the staff and see regular performance assessments,
how the community is benefiting. including a formal annual evaluation.
If the executive director does not
5. Hiring, supervising and evaluating the meet objectives or manage the NGO
executive director. The board hires the effectively, the board has a duty to
executive director. It does not take a dismiss that person. The board must
short cut and appoint the first available make this decision carefully based on
person. It goes through a multi-step, the best interests of the NGO. The
transparent process that identifies the board should never dismiss an executive
best candidate for the job. director based solely on the preferences
➠ Develop a job description with clear of one board member.

6. Establishing policies and procedures.
The board approves all of the NGO’s
policies and procedures, covering the
gamut from personnel and fiscal issues SELF-DEALING
to conflicts of interest. Staff might Self-dealing is when a board member acts
prepare the policies but the board must in his or her own interest rather than in
approve them. the interests of the organization. A board
member who advocates for the NGO to use
7. Serving as ambassadors for the NGO. his sister-in-law’s printing company even
Board members should always look though it would cost the NGO more would
for opportunities to develop new be engaged in self-dealing. The extremes
relationships and find new resources of self-dealing involve illegal actions such
for the NGO. They advocate for it as stealing or steering funds to others in
and its community and represent the exchange for a kickback.
organization at community events. Boards must set policies to prevent self-
Board members for Clean Streets, dealing and take immediate action when
Healthy Children are also active in self-dealing occurs.
national and international professional
networks. When they attend meetings
or conferences, they bring their NGO’s practices are allowed, the NGO will
brochures and have their talking rightly be seen as corrupt.
points ready. To prevent unethical behavior and
Board members are the NGO’s corruption, an NGO’s leadership must
ambassadors. They attend community establish fair and open dealing as a
meetings and events, listen to core value. Practices must be put in
community concerns and make place to discipline or terminate anyone
themselves active and visible in the found in violation. If the board learns
community. In this way, board members that the executive director has engaged
build trust with the community. in corrupt practices, it should let this
person go immediately. If one board
8. Ensuring the NGO meets ethical member sees other members acting
standards. The board of directors unethically, that board member must
ensures that anyone associated with report their behavior to the board
the NGO behaves ethically and avoids chair for immediate action. All board
corruption at all costs. An NGO must members are responsible for ensuring
be honest, fair and transparent in its the full board behaves ethically.
interactions with all stakeholders,
internal and external. For example, it
would be unethical for Clean Streets,
Healthy Children to have a partnership
with another NGO to run a joint In new NGOs without paid staff, board
project but not reveal information that members take on roles and tasks that
it received a grant to support the joint would otherwise be carried out by paid
project. Or, it would be unethical for staff, including:
the executive director to pay a staff ➠ Designing the NGO’s first projects and
member a salary different from the getting them started.
salary written in the budget. If such

➠ Attending meetings with stakeholders
to build relationships.
➠ Creating the management infrastructure
for the organization — such as setting WHEN BOARD MEMBERS DISAGREE
up an accounting system or a system for Sometimes board members disagree with
organizing volunteers. each other on a decision, a policy or the
➠ Carrying out the project — such as best course of action. When this happens,
teaching a computer class or leading a take time to discuss why. Try to understand
civic education workshop. the perspectives and reasoning behind
Board members of start-up NGOs the different points of view. This will lead
need to remember that, in addition to a better, richer discussion about the
to carrying out the NGO’s work and advantages and disadvantages of different
managing the organization, they still approaches, and ultimately a better decision
need to pay attention to their governance for the NGO. If, even after discussion, board
responsibilities and should set aside a members still disagree, you may have
portion of board meetings for oversight to take a vote on the issue and have the
activities. majority rule.
Once an NGO gets its first grant and
hires paid staff, the role of the board
will begin to change. Not only will the typical meeting, the executive director of
board be less involved in the day-to- Clean Streets, Healthy Children might
day work of the NGO, it will also have report to the board that she met with a
new governance responsibilities. It will prospective donor for the NGO’s new
need to develop personnel policies and public awareness campaign. The executive
supervise the executive director, for director shares concerns that the donor
example. Making the transition from an wants to restrict what the NGO can say in
all-volunteer NGO to a funded and staffed the campaign in return for funding. The
one can be very challenging for NGO board discusses the offer, decides whether
boards. When board members understand to accept it, and establishes a policy for
how their role is changing, they will be handling funding offers that come with
better able to navigate the transition. conditions.
A board of directors makes only official
decisions, such as to approve priorities,
new projects, budgets or policies. It can
take official action only at meetings that
Regular meetings are a must for a board have enough board members present. That
to exercise its oversight responsibilities. detail needs to be specified in the NGO’s
Some boards meet monthly — especially charter. An individual board member
if the NGO is just starting up, growing cannot make decisions for the NGO. At
rapidly or going through a crisis. For each board meeting, someone should take
NGOs that are running smoothly thorough notes, called “minutes,” which
and not having to deal with threats become the official record of a board’s
or opportunities, quarterly meetings discussions and decisions.
are adequate. Board members should Board members should make every
review project and financial updates at effort to attend all board meetings. This
their meetings, as well as discuss any is necessary for them to keep informed
new issues that require a decision. At a and make sound decisions for the NGO.

If a board member has to miss a meeting,
he should follow up with a fellow board
member to find out what happened and
ask questions.
Many boards set up committees to Building a board takes time. Time to find
carry out specific tasks between full board people with the right mix of knowledge,
meetings. This makes board meetings skills and relationships and time to
more efficient. For example, when the train them to fill their roles. Few board
board of Clean Streets, Healthy Children members will come to your NGO fully
needs to review and update a policy, it equipped to perform all the functions
creates a committee to analyze the issue required of them. Think of your board as
and bring forth recommendations for the a team — each player has his or her own
board to act on. position. Working together, they get the
For a new or small NGO, it makes job done. Regardless of what position each
sense for the whole board
to work together. As the
NGO grows, the board may
form committees to deal
with an expanding number
of issues. Committees
are a way to strengthen
teamwork on the board and
provide opportunities for
its members to build their
skills and leadership.
NGOs provide all new
board members with a
thorough orientation to the
organization — its mission,
history and projects. NGOs
make sure board members
are equipped with the
knowledge and skills to
do their jobs, providing
training when necessary.
Finally, NGO boards
elect a board chair who
provides leadership that
motivates all board
members to do their best
for the NGO. A good
chair creates a positive
environment and good
working relationships
Taking notes of board meetings, called “minutes,”
among board members. is important for transparency as a record of the
board’s discussions and decisions. (© 2003-2012
Shutterstock Images LLC)

plays, all board members must believe in to launch a public awareness campaign
the NGO’s mission and be willing to work about the connection between waste
hard to advance it. and child health. The board would
Founders of NGOs often start by definitely benefit from having new
inviting friends, family members and members with backgrounds in
colleagues — people they know and trust communications and social media. A
— to serve on the first board of directors. board consisting solely of sanitation and
Once the NGO is established, people health experts would be unable to guide
with new skills, experiences and points of the NGO through a communications
view need to be brought onto the board. campaign or review a contract with a
Greater diversity helps a board govern a consultant to ensure it was appropriate.
more complex organization.
To build a more diverse board, make 3. What kinds of connections and
a list of the kinds of expertise, skills and relationships does our NGO need
relationships the NGO needs and where now and in the future? Clean Streets,
you can find people who have them. As Healthy Children has decided it wants
you do so, consider these questions: to build a long-term partnership with
a local university to bring engineering
1. What expertise, skills and relationships and environmental science students
do we need for a well-rounded board? into the NGO’s projects. The board
Many NGOs look for new board realizes that it could benefit immensely
members with expertise in their sector, by recruiting a new member from the
such as health, human rights, education, university. The board draws up a list
or microfinance. This is important, but of their contacts at the university and
don’t forget to recruit board members arranges meetings with them to start
with expertise in management, the process of identifying prospective
communications, community outreach candidates for the board.
and finance.
If Clean Streets, Healthy Children 4. What personal traits and characteristics
has a well-rounded board, it will should a new board member have to fit
make better decisions. Suppose it is in with the rest of the board? This is an
entering into a new partnership with an important question to answer before
international NGO to help engineering making your selection. If your board
students carry out community
sanitation projects. The board needs
to review and approve both the
partnership agreement and the budget. REMEMBER…
Board members with expertise in public
health and sanitation can make sure the FOUNDING EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS
project approach is sound, while board HAVE TO REPORT TO THEIR BOARDS
members with management expertise Sometimes, the founder of an NGO decides
can oversee budget issues. to be its executive director and recruits the
first board of directors. Founding executive
2. W hat specific knowledge and skills will directors still are accountable to the boards
help our NGO achieve its goals over the and must report to them. Founding boards
next three to five years? Let’s suppose demand regular reports from the executive
Clean Streets, Healthy Children plans directors and evaluate their performances.

meetings are casual and informal,
you should make sure new members
are comfortable with that style. If the
NGO is growing or changing rapidly, CHECKLIST FOR A WELL-ROUNDED
you need to find members who make BOARD
decisions quickly and are flexible. Before you begin your search for new board
As you recruit new board members, members, go through the checklists below
keep in mind that, above all, they must to identify the right candidate.
be committed to the NGO’s vision, values Knowledge and skills:
and mission. Make it clear to them that ➠ Organizational and project management
they will need to devote time to NGO ➠ Fundraising
governance and planning, and acquire ➠ Budgeting and fiscal management
new skills to support the NGO. ➠ Human resources
Once your board has identified what it ➠ Planning and evaluation
wants in new members, agree on a process ➠ Marketing and communications
for recruiting them to join the board. ➠ Legal issues
Networks and relationships:
➠ Other community groups and networks
➠ Local business community
➠ Corporate sector
The key is for boards and executive ➠ NGO sector
directors to work together cooperatively. ➠ Government sector
Both are responsible for setting directions ➠ Professional associations
and priorities, building relationships and
bringing in resources for the organization.
The main danger is that they will step role. The job description states that
on each other’s toes without clearly the executive director is responsible
differentiated roles. for hiring, supervising and evaluating
Here are a few tips for building a good all other staff.
relationship between your board and
executive director: 2. Support one another to fulfill respective
roles and responsibilities. Boards need
1. Make sure that board members and information about the day-to-day
the executive director understand their operations and challenges of the NGO
respective roles and responsibilities. to do their governance job. Executive
Develop written job descriptions for directors have this information and
each. Keep in mind that: need to share it willingly with their
➠ The board of directors sets boards. Suppose a board member of
organizational policy, authorizes Clean Streets, Healthy Children has
programs and approves expenditures. a relationship with researchers at a
This is the governance role. The job university. The university wants to
description states that the board partner with the NGO to carry out a
supervises and evaluates the executive research project. The board discusses
director, who reports to the board. the project and reaches the conclusion
➠ The executive director implements that such a partnership would raise
the policies and programs the board the NGO’s visibility and provide
sets out. This is the management opportunities for further collaboration.

Before making a decision to move
forward, the board should consult with
the executive director, who might have
concerns about the NGO’s capacity BOARDS MUST PUT THE INTERESTS OF
to take on a major new effort. In this
case, the board might decide not to Expanding the board beyond the founder’s
authorize this new initiative or it might relationships will help avoid conflicts of
go back to the university, present the interest that might arise by having family or
concerns, and see if the university could friends on the board. If the NGO needs to
provide the resources for additional make a difficult decision, a family member
staff and training. Close consultation or close friend might not be willing to
between the board and the executive disagree with the founder. If the founder is
director provides a solid foundation for no longer the best executive director for the
decisions they take together. NGO, a friend or family member might not
be willing to replace the founder.
Likewise, an executive director
needs the board’s guidance and input
to manage the NGO well. Let’s say that
Clean Streets, Healthy Children has of the newly hired project manager.
begun implementing the new research While it is the executive director’s job
project, and now, the executive director to address these concerns, she might
has concerns about the performance want to consult with the board to gain

Involving community members in planning ensures an NGO’s responsiveness to their needs. Here Melinda
Gates, co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, meets with health and sanitation
committee members in Kathgara village in Uttar Pradesh, India. (© Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation/Barbara Kinney)

a different perspective before making
any decisions on how to deal with
the matter.
3. Build collegial relationships between
the board and NGO staff that respect A good way to make sure an NGO is
the authority of the executive director. responsive and accountable to the
Board and staff members should community is to have community members
know each other and understand that on the board. If your NGO focuses on a
they play for the same team. You can particular neighborhood, recruit people
facilitate this relationship by having who grew up there to serve on the board.
staff periodically attend board meetings If you focus on young mothers, get several
and inviting board members to visit of them on the board. They will bring in
projects and get to know staff. But firsthand community knowledge and
relationships that will make your work more
board and staff members must also
effective. Make sure you provide newcomers
recognize that the executive director
with the training and support to carry out
supervises and directs the staff. Board
the board’s governance responsibilities.
members should never attempt to give
instructions to staff or bypass the
executive director to obtain information
from them. needs. The community in turn rewards
Above all, boards and executive you with their trust. The board of
directors need regular and open directors works in tandem with the NGO
communication. When a problem appears, to build trust with the community. Here is
you need to raise it, discuss it, and try what your NGO and board need to do to
to resolve it before it becomes a crisis. build trust:
Understand that there always is tension
in the relationship. The executive director 1. Educate the community about your
may at times feel like the board is trying NGO. The staff and board members
to manage the NGO, and conversely are all your NGO’s ambassadors.
the board might feel that the executive They educate community members
director occasionally makes decisions about what your NGO does, how it
that are not hers to make. Such tension is works, what its limitations are, and
a natural and important part of holding the resources it needs to function.
each other accountable. As long as Have your ambassadors tell about your
everyone talks openly and honestly, with projects, staff, board members, funders
the understanding that each has a job to — especially why the funders support
do, you can find the appropriate balance your NGO. Lastly, your ambassadors
for your NGO. must let your community members
know that your NGO is accountable to
them and they have a right to demand
information, ask questions and give
One of your NGO’s most important
assets is your good reputation within 2. Hold your NGO accountable to the
the community. You earn it by running community. Remember, NGOs exist
projects that respond to the community’s for the public good, and they must

answer to the public. All NGOs need to to all NGO staff and volunteers. The
set up mechanisms to hold themselves board adopts policies that prohibit all
accountable to the communities they forms of discrimination (for example,
serve. Involving community members in based on ethnicity, religion or clan
planning and evaluation and reporting affiliation). The board can also dedicate
back to them are two ways to do this. resources to train and monitor staff

3. Behave ethically. All board

members, staff and volunteers
have a duty to behave ethically.
It is the role of the board to
enforce ethical standards by
taking corrective action when
the standards are violated.
The board’s goal is to ensure a
high level of professionalism by
making sure that your NGO’s
actions are open and in the best
interest of your community.

4. Be transparent. Your NGO

must provide community
members access to information
about your organization. Never
hide information about:
➠ How your organization
works, the projects it runs, or
who it serves.
➠ How people are selected to be
on the board or hired as staff.
➠ How major decisions are
made and priorities are set.
➠ Where your money comes
from and what it is used for.
Nonprofit organizations rely
on the resources (e.g., time,
money, skills and energy) of
the community to do their job
effectively. The community has
a right to know what you are
doing, how you are using their Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), or the “Save
resources, and what results you Childhood Movement,” is an example of a
are achieving. successful NGO. It began in the 1980s with a
handful of people committed to ending child
labor and trafficking. BBA’s marches against child
5. Treat all community members with trafficking, like this one in New Delhi, India,
fairness, dignity and respect. The board spread across India and the world. (© AP Images/
needs to communicate this principle Manish Swarup)

and volunteers to ensure they do not
show favoritism.
6. Respect confidentiality. Your NGO’s GOVERNANCE VS. MANAGEMENT
staff and board members may learn In its governance role, the board reviews
sensitive information about individuals, and approves the budget. Once the budget
such as their health status, financial is approved, the executive director executes
situation, or family secrets. NGOs must it. If the board approves $5,000 for printing,
put policies in place to protect this it should not later question the executive
information and sanction those who director’s decision to spend $3,000 on a
breach confidentiality. This is one area new brochure. A board member can offer
where you should not be transparent! suggestions for a cost-effective alternative,
but, ultimately, it is the executive director’s
7. Solicit community input and feedback. responsibility to decide how funds are
This can be done by creating formal
community advisory committees, as
described above, as well as by involving
community members in planning. You
can also conduct regular surveys that
invite people to tell you what you can Whether an NGO is just starting out or
do better and hold regular meetings well established, the board of directors
with project participants to listen to plays a critical role in keeping the
their views. organization accountable, transparent and
legitimate. In the beginning, that means
In the end, trust is the critical factor in working with the founder to set out the
an NGO’s success. Its founders, staff and organization’s vision, mission and goals
volunteers build it. The board establishes while holding the NGO accountable to
and implements policies and practices that its community. As an NGO grows and
create it. When the community trusts you, matures, adding projects, staff, resources,
they will: donors and partners, the board assumes
➠ Seek out your services and participate greater responsibility for oversight and
in your projects. accountability to an expanding set of
➠ Volunteer and support your organization stakeholders. For any NGO, finding the
in other ways. right board and making sure its members
➠ Speak well of your NGO’s work, staff are equipped to do their jobs is critical
and leaders. to success.
➠ Give you honest feedback to improve
your organization and its projects, and
refrain from harmful accusations.

Remember, you will never be able to

make everybody happy. There will always
be someone whose expectations you
cannot meet. But as long as you stay true
to your mission and behave ethically,
you will gain the trust of most people in
your community.


(© AP Images/Tony Avelar)

eople and communities are the heart
of why an NGO exists. Regardless
of the issues they address, all NGOs
were created to make people’s lives DEFINE YOUR COMMUNITY
better and communities stronger. Yet NGOs define community in different ways.
NGOs can be more than humanitarian For some, community means a geographic
organizations to ease suffering. They can area — a neighborhood, a village, a
also be empowerment organizations to city or a region. For others, community
spur people to realize their aspirations refers to members of a particular ethnic
for better lives and communities. To minority, language group, age group or
achieve this potential, NGOs need to give gender identity. And others might define
community members the knowledge, skills their community as anyone affected by
and confidence to address their own needs a particular issue, such as HIV or youth
and advocate on their own behalf. unemployment. Your NGO needs to define
A good way to begin is for your NGO the community you seek to engage
to open doors for community members and empower.
not only to participate in projects, but also
to help plan, manage and evaluate them.
Your NGO can facilitate broader civic Health for All, approaches community
participation in a number of ways, by: participation and empowerment.
➠ Investing in leadership development
and supporting new leaders to define
problems, identify solutions and
establish action plans. NGOs need to cultivate new leaders
➠ Organizing “visioning” sessions within their communities, whether they
that invite community members to are geographic or based on addressing a
share their dreams for their lives and shared problem. You do this by building
communities, then combining them into people’s skills and providing them with
a collective vision. opportunities to step into leadership roles.
➠ Coaching community members to By cultivating new leaders, you ensure
be their own advocates and voice that your NGO’s work will go on after the
their concerns to elected officials and founders are gone. Equally important, you
government decision makers. create a situation in which people affected
➠ Advocating for the creation of by a problem are part of its solution.
structures and mechanisms that make The leaders you cultivate will amplify
government and elected officials your NGO’s work in a number of ways,
accountable to citizens. by:
➠ Mobilizing people to vote. ➠ Educating others in the community
Participation and empowerment are about the issue.
mutually reinforcing. When people ➠ Serving as the messengers in public
participate, they learn new skills, gain education campaigns.
confidence and develop their own voice ➠ Advocating with government or elected
and ability to control their lives. And officials and by attending meetings or
when people feel empowered, they giving testimony.
are more likely to participate. In this ➠ Mobilizing others to get involved, speak
chapter, we’ll illustrate this by showing out and take action.
how another hypothetical organization,

Health for All has been providing
health-education workshops targeting low-
income women and has been successful in
helping them adopt good health practices. LOOK FOR YOUR COMMUNITY’S
Now, Health for All wants to start a NATURAL LEADERS
Women’s Leadership Project to train low- All communities have “natural leaders”
income women to become community — individuals whom others seek out for
leaders on health issues. advice, look up to, and listen to. They might
The NGO is going to recruit a few be elders respected for their experience
women who participated in the workshops or young people able to motivate others.
to begin meeting weekly. The NGO will Some may have formal education; others
focus discussions on what it means to be a may not. If you don’t already know who they
leader, what kind of leadership is needed are, ask your community members when
in their community and what kind of you conduct a needs and assets assessment.
leaders the women want to be. The project Then, invite these natural leaders to
will hold training workshops designed to participate in a leadership program.
build basic skills, such as how to:
➠ Analyze a community problem.
➠ Develop solutions. programs guide participants through
➠ Plan events and projects. the process of picking an issue to tackle,
➠ Manage tasks, timelines and resources. identifying solutions, then carrying
➠ Run a meeting. out an action plan. Health for All’s
➠ Speak in public. Women’s Leadership Project will guide its
➠ Deal with conflict. participants to:
➠ Identify an issue, such as why so many
While providing formal training is women in the community have been
important, remember that people learn getting sick from preventable illnesses.
by doing. The most effective leadership ➠ Analyze the root causes. For example,
funding for the government primary
care clinic was slashed, with the result
that many women are being turned

REMEMBER… away. Also, government-funded health-

education campaigns have been cut.
➠ Identify and prioritize what they want
START BY INVOLVING COMMUNITY to change. They decide they not only
want funding restored, but also the
When the people you serve are involved clinic to develop better outreach and
in your NGO, your NGO will be more education for women with low
successful. Not only will your projects be literacy levels.
more relevant to their needs, but you will ➠ Pinpoint who they need to influence —
build collective ownership for your NGO’s the person with the power to restore
mission. Your community members will be funding — and decide what kind of
more willing to support your NGO and its message is most likely to persuade
work in the future. In addition, by investing
that person.
in the skills and leadership of the people
you serve, your NGO will expand the pool of
talent to help carry out your mission.

Here members of the Anti-Poverty Campaign, a Tokyo-based NGO, tap their community support
across the seas, as this Los Angeles, California, demonstration shows. (© AP Images/Hector Mata)

➠ Finally, the women leaders mobilize graduates of the leadership project to

other women in the community to sign help design the campaign, craft the
a petition, send letters, or stage a vigil messages, and advocate with public
in front of the regional office of the officials.
health ministry. ➠ Supporting them to become engaged
in other community projects and
After new leaders “graduate” from your coalitions. Health for All can introduce
training, find ways to continue nurturing newly trained leaders to other NGOs
and supporting them. You can do this by: and coalitions where they might get
➠ Hiring them as staff. If Health for All taken on as staff or volunteers. In this
secures additional funding to expand way, Health for All’s leadership project
its health-education projects, it can hire benefits the whole sector.
leadership-project graduates to conduct ➠
outreach, coordinate workshops or even
provide training.
➠ Engaging them in advocacy. If Health
for All decides to advocate for greater
public funding for maternal and child
health clinics, for example, it can invite

raise funds to launch the project. The
confidence they glean from this project
might propel some of them to found
their own NGO, which would be an CIVIC ENGAGEMENT
ally of Health for All. Civic engagement encompasses a range of
activities that allow citizens to express their
views and take action to effect change.
PROMOTING WIDE CIVIC ➠ Helping in neighborhood meetings,
ENGAGEMENT clean-ups, or cultural festivals.
Your NGO can promote civic engagement ➠ Volunteering with an NGO or other
in ways other than grooming new community group.
leaders. After all, not everyone is cut out ➠ Attending city council meetings or giving
to be a leader. Your NGO can create testimony at public hearings.
opportunities for people who are not ➠ Participating in meetings or forums to
discuss community issues.
leaders to contribute to bettering their
➠ Writing letters to the editor.
communities. Generating broad civic
➠ Taking part in rallies, marches, or vigils.
engagement will ultimately help your
➠ Voting.
NGO accomplish its mission.
The ways that NGOs can promote civic
engagement range from simply creating
opportunities for people to articulate visioning sessions with different segments
their vision of the future to mobilizing of the community, such as youth, elders,
them to get out and vote. NGOs can be adult women, or men, or in different
instrumental in getting people to realize neighborhoods of the city. In the sessions,
that they have a voice and a vote! you could ask participants questions such
as: If everyone in your community had
Inviting Community Members to health care, what would it look like? What
Shape a Vision would be different?
For people who have never had a say Health for All’s Women’s Leadership
in shaping their future, a powerful way Project could bring together women from
to begin is to invite them to share their a low-income neighborhood to create
hopes and dreams for their lives and their a collective vision for a community
communities. Health for All could hold that fosters women’s health. Visioning
processes often ask questions such as: In
your vision for the future, what would

REMEMBER… women’s lives be like? What would

the community look like? What kinds
of resources would it have to support
If your NGO is going to build new leaders Organizing Projects for People’s
and empower them to lead efforts to effect Participation
change, then the NGO leaders and staff Helping people to form a collective vision
must be willing to step back and let others for their community is the first step to
lead. To be empowered, people must get them to see that they have a voice in
be responsible for their own successes shaping their future. The next step is
and failures.

to help them see that they can make a Engaging Community Members
difference. NGOs can organize various in Advocacy
activities in which people can make You need to involve community members
changes — large or small — to improve in speaking about the issue your NGO
their communities. deals with. The people who are most
Health for All, for instance, could affected by an issue are the most credible
sponsor mural projects in the neighbor- messengers to government officials and
hood, inviting youths to paint the walls other decision makers.
with scenes of a healthy community. In countries with sufficient margins of
Health for All could also organize freedom, NGOs can organize people to
neighborhood clean-up days, where people sign petitions, write letters, make phone
come out to clean their streets and parks. calls and provide testimony. Your NGO
The NGO’s board members could help by needs to support them by furnishing
appealing to businesses to donate supplies information and other tools to be
for these activities. effective.
Your NGO could also seek to make For example, if Health for All advocates
the government a partner to support such with the health ministry to improve
efforts. This would provide opportunities sanitation in the region, it could recruit
for officials and lawmakers to build and train community members to speak
goodwill with the public and strengthen out on the matter. Community members
your NGO’s ties with the government. could help shape the key messages for
We’ll talk more about NGO-government an advocacy campaign, then present
relations in the next chapter. testimony and facts to government

A mother and her child at a Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) march outside parliament in Cape Town,
South Africa. TAC advocates for access to comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services.
Through such efforts, South African NGOs have brought better health care to HIV positive citizens.
(© AP Images/Obed Zilwa)

WHAT’S THIS? ➠ The use of community advisory
committees or citizen oversight
commissions by government ministries
ADVOCACY to receive community input and answer
Advocacy is the act of promoting a position community questions.
with the decision makers who have the ➠ Greater transparency in the decision-
power to effect change. You can advocate making process and access to
with government officials to get a new law information for citizens, such as
passed or an existing one changed. You requirements to publish voting records
can advocate with officials of a government or make certain documents available
ministry to change their rules or practices. for public scrutiny.
Many NGOs advocate for increased funding
for a particular problem or issue, such as NGOs can educate officials to
primary health care or education. NGOs recognize the value of such structures
can also advocate with business leaders for and mechanisms in helping them to meet
greater corporate social responsibility. their mandates and generate greater public
support through increased accountability.
At the same time, NGOs need to educate
officials about the impact of poor their communities that officials are
sanitation in their communities. It would accountable to them, and citizens have a
be especially powerful if a few community right to hold officials accountable. To do
members told personal stories of how the so, the communities need information and
health of their children has been affected. access to officials, both of which NGOs
Health for All staff could work with can provide.
community members to draft their talking Health for All, for example, is leading
points and coach them on delivering them. a coalition of NGOs to press the health
In countries where the political environ- ministry to create a citizen advisory
ment discourages community activism, committee to provide input and feedback
your NGO needs to carefully consider its on the ministry’s health programs.
advocacy strategies. You want to make
sure that your community is well-informed
about any risks of government reprisals.

Advocating for Governance Structures

that Support Engagement
In countries where civic activism is legally
permitted but not widely practiced, an Advocacy is about telling stories that help
appropriate role for NGOs would be to decision makers understand the impact of
advocate for the creation of mechanisms a problem, law or policy on people’s lives.
of civic engagement. NGOs could work NGOs can encourage community members
together to advocate for: to step forward and share their stories —
➠ The adoption of requirements that local whether as testimony at public meetings or
as part of the NGO’s general education and
elected bodies hold open meetings for
awareness-raising efforts. You can do this
citizens to voice their views on new
by recording people’s stories in writing and
laws under consideration (i.e., public
on video and posting them on your website
and other media.

The NGOs see a role for themselves
in recruiting and training community
members to serve on the committee.
Health for All encourages graduates of CIVIC ENGAGEMENT SERVES
its Women’s Leadership Project to apply
for seats on the committee. The NGOs
want to make sure that the committee is In dealings with appointed and elected
structured in a way that it is outside officials, NGOs need to hammer home
the control of the government or a continuously the message that citizen input
particular NGO. and oversight will ultimately result in better
government services, and help the officials
Mobilizing and Educating Voters fulfill their mandate. Further, this will show
the officials that broad civic engagement is
Finally, NGOs can promote voting as a
a way to tap into citizens’ own resources to
form of civic engagement. The political
improve communities, thus complementing
system permitting, NGOs can register
what government can accomplish on
voters, educate them about the importance
its own.
of elections, sponsor forums for candidates
to meet community members and mobilize
voters to turn out on Election Day.
to a narrow problem that directly affects
them and their families. They may need
time before they are ready to speak out on
Strengthening community participation large policy issues.
and empowerment is key to an NGO’s There is no one right way to
efforts to bring about sustainable change. promote community participation and
Your NGO may have exemplary planning, empowerment. You can start small, try
management, and governance practices, different approaches, and learn as you
but if you are not building a strong base go. Remember, regardless of your NGO’s
of community leadership and engagement, specific mission, the more that individuals
your NGO might not outlive its founders. understand their rights and responsibilities
As with other aspects of an NGO’s as citizens, the more effective your NGO
work, you need to build your own capacity will be.
to support and sustain community
participation and empowerment. You
need to start by educating your own staff,
volunteers and board members about
what NGOs can do to generate civic
engagement. Educate yourselves about the
political process, understand the power
dynamics, identify the role your NGO
wants to play and build relationships with
You also need to listen to your
community. What are they ready and
willing to do? Where do they want to
start? Some people may want to limit their
engagement to their own neighborhood or


(© 2012 Thinkstock)

n NGO cannot achieve its
vision for a better society on its
own. Community needs are too
numerous and society’s problems CREATE A MAP OF NGOs
are too complex. Your NGO needs As you become familiar with your
to work with other NGOs and your environment, get to know the other NGOs
government to accomplish your goals. that work in your community or on your
Through partnerships with other issue. Draw a map of your community and
NGOs, and the public sector, you gain mark the locations of other NGOs. Identify
access to new resources, including what they do and the type of relationships
funding and in-kind support as well as you would like to build with them. This
information, expertise and skills. When exercise will highlight knowledge gaps that
an NGO is just starting, it might find you need to fill.
rent-free space for its activities through
relationships with other NGOs, a
local government office or a university.
Partnerships with other NGOs might
allow you to reach new target populations
with your public education messages and Other NGOs can be sources of
broaden your base of popular support information and ideas, partners for
for your mobilization efforts. In short, projects, and allies for your cause.
partnerships can be an important vehicle Get to know the ones working in your
for young NGOs to build visibility and community — their issues, target
capacity. populations and services. They can be
Partnerships take different forms, especially helpful when you are just
ranging from informal and casual to starting up and trying to define your
formal and structured. You can have mission and carve out your niche. Later,
relationships where you talk to each other as you plan new projects and activities,
regularly to share information, ideas and you will want to know who is doing
experiences. You can also have highly similar work so you can coordinate your
organized, collaborative relationships efforts and avoid duplication. Make it a
where you design projects, raise money point to get to know other NGOs in your
and run the projects together. area, even if they are pursuing different
When you are developing your near- missions. They probably care about your
term project plans and long-term strategic issue and may become strong allies.
plans, think carefully about who you want You also need to know who is working
to build partnerships with and what form on your issue in other cities and at the
the partnerships should take. national and international levels. NGOs
In this chapter, we use a hypothetical can learn from each other by sharing
NGO, Citizens Fighting Corruption, experiences and lessons learned. If
which focuses on rooting out local Citizens Fighting Corruption wants to
corruption, to explore how different address corruption at the municipal
partnerships are built, and the benefits procurement office, it could learn about
and challenges they present. strategies used by groups in other cities
and how effective they were.
NGOs working on the same issues
in different places can work together

A year after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a member of the Japanese NGO Association
for Aid and Relief (AAR) walks past ruins of a school in the city of Kamaishi. The AAR partnership with
the International Rescue Committee helps distribute assistance to people still struggling with effects
of the disaster. (Courtesy of International Rescue Committee)

to address the root causes that cross conferences, training opportunities and
geographic boundaries. When anti- funding opportunities. Telephone calls,
corruption groups from various localities meetings and email are good ways to
get their heads together, they might realize keep in touch. Another way to build
that what’s really needed is a national law. trust is to support one another’s work by
That would open the possibility for them publicizing and attending each other’s
to coordinate their efforts in a nationwide events, volunteering for each other’s
campaign to pressure legislators to pass activities, and providing letters of support
such a law. for grant proposals.
But make no mistake, effective Citizens Fighting Corruption has
partnerships take time to build. NGOs conducted a survey about perceptions of
often see each other as rivals, competing corruption. After compiling the results,
for resources, support, visibility and even it invites other NGOs to a briefing to
public praise. To begin to see each other share and discuss the results. That opens
as partners, you need to get to know each communication channels with other
other and build trust. You can start by groups that have the same concern about
contacting another NGO for a meeting to corruption. Likewise, Citizens Fighting
get acquainted. Corruption makes every effort to accept
Once you know each other, you can invitations from other NGOs to expand its
share information about activities, network of allies.

As NGOs build trust with each other, they
can coordinate their efforts more closely. INFORMATIONAL MEETING
Before you combine your efforts, however, At an informational meeting, members
make sure you agree on certain things: from your NGO and another can share
➠ A shared vision. While each NGO information about each other’s vision,
should have its own distinct mission, mission and values. It’s an opportunity to
a shared vision will help like-minded identify shared goals and explore whether
groups set common goals and deliver you might have opportunities to work
a common message for change. For together. Sometimes, an informational
example, if anti-corruption NGOs meeting results in concrete ideas about
working in different parts of a coordination or collaboration. Other
country come together to develop a times, you may simply agree to stay in
shared vision for what a corruption- communication.
free government looks like, they can
establish a national platform that will
provide a clear direction and sense of ➠ Coordinated outreach and education.
purpose for all. Create a division of labor among
➠ Common goals and a coordinated cooperating NGOs as to who shares
strategy for achieving them. Citizens information or conducts trainings
Fighting Corruption and its related with different target audiences. This is
NGOs know all too well that they face needed to avoid duplication of effort.
potent opposition from the beneficiaries Citizens Fighting Corruption is working
of corruption. By forming a united with another NGO that focuses on fair
front with like-minded NGOs, Citizens elections. Both want to educate voters
Fighting Corruption reduces the to recognize election fraud and blow the
opportunities for corrupt elements to whistle on it when they see it. The two
play NGOs off each other and nullify NGOs realize that they can increase
their efforts. their effectiveness by pooling their
knowledge and skills in joint education
workshops and campaigns. Those steps
enable them to expand their work into
WHAT’S THIS? new neighborhoods.
Coordination does not mean you
do everything together. It does mean
you talk and decide what you will
Your allies are the individuals, organizations do individually and what you will
and institutions whom you can call on to do jointly. Keep in mind that each
support your NGO, your community and NGO is autonomous and has its own
your issues. If your NGO faces a funding cut internal priorities and decision-making
that might force you to close your doors, processes.
your allies will speak up that your work is
important and deserves to be supported. If
you are an advocacy group, your allies will
sign your petition, give testimony, or show
up for your rally.

Sometimes NGOs develop close AN ADVOCACY COALITION
collaborative bonds by designing and An advocacy coalition is a group of NGOs,
carrying out projects together. Through sometimes joined by other civil society
collaborative projects your NGO can: groups, who come together to advocate
➠ Reach more people and broaden your for changes in laws, government policies or
constituency. regulations. Coalitions can come together
➠ Carry out new kinds of projects for a very specific objective — such as to
and expand your range of skills and pass a particular law — or to work together
expertise. on a range of advocacy strategies.
➠ Attract new resources. If you have
limited management capacity or project
experience, you may not qualify for Let’s say Citizens Fighting Corruption
grants from large foundations or the sets up informational meetings with other
public sector. Partnering with an NGOs working in the same neighborhood.
experienced organization could make It gets to know an arts and culture NGO,
your NGO eligible for such funding. and the two start talking about how they

Could this be the beginning of an advocacy coalition? During an Occupy Wall Street movement protest
in Philadelphia, participants meet to discuss social and economic issues that fueled the protest. NGOs may
start with a perceived need, but require an organized plan and follow-through to achieve results.
(© AP Images/Alex Brandon)

can reach people with low literacy levels.
They decide to work together to create
street theater performances with anti-
corruption messages. In working together, COLLABORATE TO BUILD YOUR
the anti-corruption NGO learns about CAPACITY
staging theatrical performances and the When you are starting up and have little
arts and culture group learns about the experience and few resources, finding an
corruption issue. established NGO to collaborate with is a
It’s good to start with something easy. good way to build your capacity to design
For example, your NGO could partner and run projects. Your NGO has to have
with another to co-sponsor a one-time something of value to offer an established
training event that benefits everyone. NGO in return for taking you on as a junior
Afterward, the NGOs can assess what partner. For example, your NGO might have
worked well, what did not, how each a very good relationship with a community
benefited, and whether you want to work that the established NGO wants to serve.
together again. The experience your NGO gains through
collaboration improves your chances to win
funding grants on your own in the future.
NGOs that seek to change laws and
government practices are more likely to be procurement office. It is looking to
successful when they join forces. Effective form a coalition of diverse stakeholders,
advocacy requires large numbers. The such as NGOs from the health care,
more people you have on your side, the education, and housing sectors. They all
louder your voice is, and the stronger the seek contracts from the city government
pressure you are able to bring to bear. If and are concerned about corruption in
a coalition already exists, join it. If none the process of granting them. Citizens
exists, think about starting one. That Fighting Corruption sees that by unifying
will make your NGO a leader among these NGOs into a broad coalition, they
its peers. Such a step will take time and can all speak with one voice and increase
commitment. You may have to recruit pressure to reform the government
staff and board members who can invest procurement office.
the time and energy to do it well. In order for the coalition to succeed,
Let’s return to Citizens Fighting Citizens Fighting Corruption needs to
Corruption and its struggle to root out make sure there is agreement on the
corruption in the local government following points:
➠ A shared commitment to the coalition
based on shared values and vision.

REMEMBER… ➠ Clear roles and responsibilities for each

➠ A defined decision-making structure.
USE YOUR BOARD MEMBERS TO BUILD ➠ Open communication and transparency.
RELATIONSHIPS Have clear understandings about what
Your board members are your NGO’s information you will share and will not
ambassadors. Use their networks of share and how you will share it, such as
contacts to identify and build partnerships through regular email, phone calls and
with other NGOs. meetings.

➠ An agreed-upon process for dealing
with conflict or disagreements.
INTERNATIONAL NGOs When NGOs begin to coordinate their work,
it is important to establish ground rules
Relationships with international for this. Even though you are not creating
NGOs offer your small NGO access a formal structure, NGOs should agree
to information about global standards on basic rules to conduct joint meetings,
and practices that affect your work. The communication, and any projects you
international organizations are important do together.
members of your support network who
will speak up and defend you when
necessary. Through contacts with have your detailed knowledge of local
international NGOs, Citizens Fighting issues and your relationships with local
Corruption learns about international stakeholders. You have a lot to offer.
conventions, model laws from other Remember that.
countries and advocacy strategies that
have been effective elsewhere. Taking on
corrupt politicians, government workers
and business owners can be a dangerous
undertaking. The more relationships the NGOs need to build relationships with
NGO has with anti-corruption activists the government — elected and appointed
nationally and internationally, the more officials — to accomplish their mission.
people there will be looking out and At times, the relationships may be
demanding protection should Citizens confrontational; at other times they may
Fighting Corruption be threatened. be cooperative.
Building relationships with The role of NGOs is to hold
international NGOs can be challenging governments accountable. Sometimes,
for local NGOs. The international NGOs, an NGO may monitor a particular
with their size, resources and visibility, government agency or elected official to
often dictate agendas. But they also need make sure they are doing their jobs and
small NGOs. International NGOs do not spending public resources appropriately.
If they are not, that’s when NGOs need to
speak up and demand changes.

TRY THIS… Let’s say the advocacy coalition formed

by Citizens Fighting Corruption was
successful in getting the government
SHARE RESOURCES procurement office to adopt an
When your and another NGO see that you anti-corruption plan and appoint a
are working toward the same vision and commissioner to oversee it. The next goal
goals, it makes sense to pool your expertise for the NGO is to monitor implementation
and materials, such as training curriculum, of the plan.
tools, fact sheets, contact lists, etc. NGOs
can also train each other’s staff in areas
where they have knowledge, expertise
and skills.

NGOs also need to cooperate with
governments in providing outreach,
education or services. NGOs and
governments can work together to develop GOVERNMENTS NEED NGOs
solutions to community needs, run joint Governments need NGOs to accomplish
projects, or carry out public awareness their missions as well as vice versa. Because
campaigns. For example, through they often have very deep relationships
meetings with the new anti-corruption in the communities they serve, NGOs can
commissioner at the government reach people governments can’t. With
procurement office, Citizens Fighting the ability to operate with high levels
Corruption saw a need to educate other of flexibility and creativity, NGOs can fill
NGOs about the government’s new gaps where governments have difficulty
contracting procedures, which were reaching.
formulated to prevent corruption. As a
gesture of goodwill, Citizens Fighting
Corruption offered to do this with its relationships with people in government
own funding and not ask the government and make them your allies, you can
for funding. accomplish a lot together. But you also
Building a cooperative relationship need to maintain balance and perspective
with a government ministry takes time. so you can speak up when the government
You need to find allies — people in the does not do its job. And sometimes
ministry who have influence and share collaboration with government may not
your values, vision and goals. Then you be in an NGO’s interest if the government
need to work to build trust with them. does not have citizens’ trust or if the
NGOs must think carefully and government is oppressive or corrupt.
strategically about their relationships
with government ministries and elected
officials. When you build strong
Strong relationships are based on shared
goals, trust or mutual benefit. Regardless
of where your NGO is in its lifecycle —
WHAT’S THIS? just starting up or well established — you
need to invest time and energy in building
AN NGO’S MONITORING ROLE relationships with other NGOs and your
governments. Your relationships with
When an NGO monitors government, it them will certainly change over time, but
watches and documents its practices to they are always critical to your NGO’s
bring attention to problems and identify sustainability.
solutions. Sometimes, an NGO’s monitoring
work focuses on a specific problem and
leads to the recommendation of a new law
or policy. Other times, an NGO monitors
how well a law or policy is implemented. To
be effective and credible, NGOs must ensure
that the staff and volunteers who carry out
the monitoring are knowledgeable, well-
trained and impartial.


(© 2003-2012 Shutterstock Images LLC)

n NGO needs money to pay speaking, it takes a long time before
salaries, buy supplies and fund an NGO can raise the bulk of its funds
programs. As a small, poorly from individuals. The important thing to
funded NGO, how do you find the remember is that your organization should
resources to do all these things? You do never depend on one source of funding.
them by building relationships with three Build a diversified base of funding so that
sources of funding: if one source goes away, you will have
➠ Foundations others to sustain your mission.
➠ Corporations/businesses This chapter introduces the hypothetical
➠ Individuals NGO WE CAN! Federation of People
Ask yourself whether government with Disabilities. Its mission is to empower
funding will compromise your NGO’s disabled people to become contributing,
credibility or undercut its effectiveness respected members of society through
because of conditions attached to the literacy and job-training projects, as
grant. Your NGO must weigh the well as advocacy. This chapter presents
particular opportunities, benefits and examples of how WE CAN! goes about
disadvantages associated with government building relationships with foundations,
funding. corporations and individual donors.
As for foundations, corporations
and individuals, each has advantages
and disadvantages as funding sources.
Foundations and corporations are easier Like NGOs, foundations exist to improve
to approach than individuals, give society and make positive changes in
larger grants, and often provide funding people’s lives. Rather than directly serving
for a long time. Down the road, your or advocating for people, they provide
organization might be able to raise a lot funding to NGOs to do this work.
of money from individuals, but, generally In another similarity to NGOs, each
foundation has its own mission and
priorities. Some are set up by wealthy
families who want to give back to society.
WHAT’S THIS? The family controls the mission and
priorities of its foundation. A family
RESOURCES with a handicapped child may channel
Resources are all of the things an NGO its grants to NGOs that serve people
needs to carry out its mission, including with disabilities. Or a family that started
money, people, meeting space, equipment, out as impoverished immigrants before
materials and supplies, skills, expertise and accumulating great wealth may direct
relationships. You need to raise money to its foundation to fund groups that help
pay for resources. It’s important to recruit immigrants or migrant workers.
volunteers, but NGOs typically need paid Other foundations are set up
staff to run projects. and funded by corporations. These
For other things, you can try to get in- foundations seek opportunities to enhance
kind donations. When a business, another the visibility and public image of their
NGO or individual donates items such as parent corporations through acts of good
meeting space, computers, or food for a neighborliness.
community meeting, these are called in-
kind donations.

How Do You Find Foundations? ➠ Does the foundation make the type of
➠ Ask your colleagues. Talk to your peers grant you are looking for? One detail
at other NGOs and other partners. you should look at is the foundation’s
People who work in government or average grant size. Some make only
universities, for example,
might be familiar with
different foundations.
➠ Ask your current funders.
If your NGO already has
foundation support, ask
your current funders for
suggestions. Many will be
more than happy to give
➠ Use the Internet. You can
look for foundations online.
In addition to the Foundation
Center, try this website:
You can also do a search on
“foundations that support x in
x country.”
➠ Check the websites, annual
reports and other publications
of NGOs similar to yours for
listings of their funders.

Once you have identified a

foundation, review its website to
determine the following:
➠ Does the foundation fund
in your geographic area?
Some funders focus on a
whole country, some on small
regions or even specific cities.
➠ Do the foundation’s priorities
align with your work? Some
funders have broad interests
that span a variety of issues,
while others have a narrow
focus. In addition to looking
at a funder’s stated priorities,
look at the NGOs and Foundations need strong leadership and vision,
projects it has funded. This information such as that provided by co-founders of the Bill &
should be on the funder’s website and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Gates couple visit
one of their projects at a cassava processing plant
will help you determine if your NGO is in Karsana, Nigeria. (© Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)
a good fit.

WHAT’S THIS? ➠ Invite foundation representatives to
come see your work in action. Check
the funder’s website to find out their
FOUNDATION preferences on direct personal contact.
A foundation is an entity that is established Some funders encourage NGOs to
for the purpose of giving money to promote contact them, while others discourage
a social good. Foundations make grants it. If the guidelines do not say anything,
to support scientific, educational, cultural, you can call the funder or send an email
religious, or other charitable causes. Not all or a letter to introduce yourself.
foundations have the term “foundation” in ➠ If you have a printed or electronic
their name, and not all organizations that newsletter, send updates to prospective
have the word “foundation” in their name funders.
give grants.
When funders are familiar with your
work and know its quality, chances
very large grants, bypassing requests are better that they will support your
from small, startup NGOs. Others do organization.
the opposite, funding small, grassroots Finally, remember that while
NGOs. Some fund new, experimental relationships are important, they are not
projects, while others fund only projects all you need. To get funded you must be
that have produced proven results. doing good work that meets identified
Once you have identified foundations community needs and demonstrate
to target, make sure you find out the
application procedures and deadlines.
Does the funder want a brief letter of
introduction first or should you send TRY THIS…
a full proposal? Does the funder have
deadlines or does it review letters and IF YOUR NGO IS NEW
proposals at any time? Finally, find out What do you do if you are a newly founded
the names of staff in charge of your NGO and do not yet have experience
activity or geographic area. If that managing projects or funding and cannot
information is not on the website, you yet demonstrate a record of results? Here’s
can call or email the foundation to ask. what you can do:
➠ Show that you have documented the
How Do You Get Foundations to
need for your NGO and its proposed
Fund You?
Getting a foundation grant is not easy — ➠ Show that you have a clear, well-thought-
especially your first one! It takes time to out plan for addressing the needs with
identify and research foundations, to build measurable outcomes of success.
a relationship and to develop a strong ➠ Show the qualifications of the founders,
proposal that meets the foundation’s board members, and staff — even if the
guidelines and criteria. NGO is new, the people who founded it
Your NGO will be more likely to get have experience!
funding if you have built a relationship Remember, as noted in Chapter 6, you
with the foundation. How do you do this? can also build your capacity and experience
➠ Ask others who know the foundation to by partnering with a larger NGO first, then
introduce you. approaching foundations on your own.

TRY THIS… Corporations generally give to NGOs
through one of the following channels:
➠ A corporate foundation that operates
ASK FOR FEEDBACK IF YOUR REQUEST independently from the corporation.
IS DENIED ➠ A corporate contributions program
If your request for funding is denied, you managed within corporate
can contact the foundation and ask for headquarters.
feedback on your proposal — some will ➠ A marketing office, through which a
be willing to speak with you, while others corporation can sponsor events. Event
will not. Sometimes, your first proposal sponsorship is considered advertising
serves as a way to introduce your NGO. rather than a charitable contribution.
So if you are turned down the first time, ➠ Corporate field managers who can
don’t be discouraged. Keep trying to build make small gifts — cash or in-kind
a relationship. It sometimes takes several donations — to local NGOs at their
submissions to get a grant. own discretion.

WE CAN! has identified a corporation

measurable results. And, you should that manufactures products and
be able to communicate this in a clear, technology that benefit people with
concise and compelling proposal. disabilities. This raises a number of
possibilities. If the corporation has its
own foundation, WE CAN! might submit
a proposal to the foundation to fund
The private sector, local businesses, and its life-skills training program. Or, WE
national and international corporations CAN! could approach the corporate
can provide support and resources contributions program and request an
to NGOs. They can be partners in-kind donation of, say, mobile phones
in developing solutions to societal that the corporation adapts for people
problems and allies in advocacy efforts.
Nevertheless, NGOs should proceed

with caution in seeking support from
the business community. Make sure the
potential corporate partner’s business and
image are consistent with your values and DO YOUR HOMEWORK
that the relationship truly benefits the Learn as much as you can about your
community you serve. potential funders before approaching
them. All foundations and corporate
How Do Corporations Support NGOs?
giving programs have their own missions,
Just as NGOs scan their environment for priorities, application guidelines and
opportunities, corporations also watch procedures. Some of the information you
for opportunities to give back to the need might be in a funder directory. If the
community — contributing not just money foundation or corporation has a website,
but time and expertise. Such contributions you will find this information there. Don’t
enhance a corporation’s public image. be afraid to talk with funder staff. Make sure
In addition, governments in some that you have the right contact and “do
countries have tax incentives to encourage your homework” so you can ask informed
corporations to donate to NGOs. questions.

Funding comes from international NGOs, agencies and governments. At this “Rural Women Speak Out” event
sponsored by the NGO Committee on the Status of Women at the U.N. Church Center in New York City,
representatives from NGOs, local leaders, U.N. agencies and others meet for roundtable discussions. Events
like these are good places to gain new contacts. (UN Women/Ryan Brown)

with limited vision. Lastly, if WE CAN! mobile phones, snack foods or tennis
is working with other disability NGOs shoes are most common? The corporations
to organize a job fair, WE CAN! might that produce these goods are connected to
invite the corporation to sponsor the your community, which provides a market
event. In return, WE CAN! could put the or a workforce for those corporations.
corporation’s name on the event banner Find out how those corporations support
and program. NGOs and how you might access
that support.
How Do You Find Corporate Funders? Ask your colleagues at other NGOs to
You certainly know the national, regional share their corporate contacts, especially
and international corporations present the names of individuals who are likely to
in your country, city and community. be helpful. Remember, if you ask others
Perhaps you buy their products or, if to share information, you must be willing
they have a factory or office in your to do likewise. NGOs need to work
community, you know people who are together to bring added resources to
employed by them. Look around your further your objectives.
community at the various products that
people buy and use. What brands of

WHAT’S THIS? ➠ We provide education and training
that enhance the skills of your future
FOUNDATION DIRECTORIES ➠ We hold public events (such as health
The Foundation Center, which is based and job fairs, cultural celebrations, art
in the United States, has been collecting exhibits and performances) that provide
information about U.S.-based and opportunities for corporate visibility.
international foundations for decades. ➠ The community we serve is a potential
The Foundation Center’s materials are market and we can help corporate
accessible online. Go to the website sponsors learn more about it. and click on ➠ A relationship with our NGO has
“Find Funders” for information about educational value to your corporation’s
international funders. employees and the public.

How Do You Get Corporations

to Fund You?
Just as with foundations,
you must build personal
relationships with key employees
of corporations. However, your
messages to corporations will
be different from your messages
to foundations. Corporations
tend to take a business approach
to giving and want to see a
“return” on their “investments.”
Your NGO must show that
For example, WE CAN!
quantifies the number of people
with disabilities it has trained to
find jobs and live on their own.
WE CAN! demonstrates long-
term impact through surveys.
For example, it heightened
public recognition that people
with disabilities are contributing
members of society.
NGOs also need to show how
corporate support of NGOs There are many kinds of fundraising events. The
enhances a company’s image and business Empty Bowls Project, a grassroots program to raise
goals. WE CAN! stresses the following money for people in need, organized this event at
points in making its pitch to corporations: a church. Potters donate handcrafted bowls, which
are given to invitees who buy tickets for a soup and
bread meal. Proceeds go to charity. (© AP Images/The
Tribune Democrat/John Rucosky)

TRY THIS… All cultures and faiths have long
traditions of giving. But the concept of
giving to NGOs is recent. To build a
SEARCH THE CORPORATION’S WEBSITE base of support of individual donors, you
When you go to the home page of a start by educating people about the NGO
corporation, you should look for a link such sector and your NGO’s work. Work out
as one of these: a solid plan and thoughtful approach.
➠ Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR Try gathering staff, board, volunteers and
➠ Human Rights community members to discuss traditions
➠ Labor Rights of giving in your community and identify
➠ Community Initiatives when, where, how and why people give.
➠ Community Relations
➠ Giving Back How Do You Involve Individuals?
➠ Touching Lives Individual donors can be anybody —
These kinds of links offer basic people from your own geographic, ethnic
information about the corporation’s giving or faith community, and those outside it.
practices. They might be friends, neighbors or co-
workers of the board members, volunteers
or staff. If you look around, you will see
Corporations are eager for good that you are surrounded by people who
publicity, and WE CAN! shows it can support you and will be willing to give
deliver that. WE CAN! has convinced a something, if you ask.
corporation to fund the construction of a Bring together a group of board
training center for people with disabilities. members, staff, volunteers and project
What persuaded the corporation to decide participants. Make a list of people you
favorably was the NGO’s promise to put already know who believe in your work
the corporation’s name on the center. and could make a contribution, however
Keep in mind that some funders like big or small. Think about members of
to be the first to invest in “the next big your community who have been helped by
thing.” Present your request for support your services, who have volunteered their
as an opportunity to invest in an exciting time, made in-kind donations, or offered
new idea that has great growth potential. guidance, such as a university professor or
Then, when that potential materializes, business owner.
the corporation can rightfully claim its
portion of the credit.

Individuals can be a major source of WHAT’S THIS?
support for NGOs — not just in countries
with strong economies or among people CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
with high incomes. Increasingly, across the Corporations now widely embrace the
globe and across income levels, individuals concept of Corporate Social Responsibility.
are supporting the NGOs that make a This is essentially a set of principles through
difference in their lives and communities. which a corporation pledges to be a good
Individual donors account for much of the corporate citizen by promoting the public
private money donated to NGOs. interest and giving back to communities.

TRY THIS… can do this through letters, emails,
text messages and websites, giving
detailed instructions on how to make
A WRITTEN POLICY ON DONATIONS contributions. Hang a poster in
This is useful for a number of reasons: your office!
➠ A written policy is a document that Make sure your fundraising campaign
staff, board and volunteers can use in all is well matched to your audience. You
circumstances, minimizing confusion. do not want to try to sell baked rolls to a
➠ When new staff, board or volunteers join person who is fasting or on a diet. Your
your NGO, a written policy helps them appeal for funds must suit the way of life
learn about the organization. and traditions of your audience.
Set a goal for how much you want to
➠ If you have to reject a gift but want
raise from individuals and announce it.
to keep the relationship with a donor,
a written policy makes handling the Tell people you will be able to accomplish
awkward situation easier. X if you raise Y amount of money.
Keep track of all the people you meet
and who attend your events so you can
keep inviting them! Keep a record of who
Make a list of people who do not know makes contributions so you can thank
about your work, but might be interested them. Saying “thank you” shows people
in it if they did. To compile this list, go that their help is appreciated. Most people
beyond listing individual names and who give money want only three things:
consider categories or networks of people ➠ To receive a personal “thank you” soon
who are potential contributors. after their gift is given.

How Do You Get Individuals to Give?

Asking for money isn’t easy. It’s much
easier to ask foundations and corporations WHAT’S THIS?
than individuals. Foundation and
corporate websites indicate whether GRASSROOTS FUNDRAISING
they support your mission and would be
receptive to your application for a grant. The term “grassroots” refers to the
communities and people directly affected
With individuals, you need to take a
by an issue or problem. So, the term
more nuanced approach that does not
“grassroots fundraising” means raising
put them in an uncomfortable spot.
money from these communities and people.
For example:
Many organizers think, “How can my
➠ When you hold an event — such as
organization raise money from individuals?
a graduation for project participants,
We don’t know any wealthy people!” Most
a community celebration or an open
community-based organizations have
house for a new center — invite all of broad support from lots of people who are
your stakeholders. At the end of the willing to give a little something, if asked.
event let them know that contributions This is the heart of grassroots fundraising.
are welcome. Even people with very modest incomes can
➠ At least once a year, announce to give a little bit or can help in an activity to
the community, stakeholders and generate funds. Many small contributions
supporters that your NGO is carrying put together become large amounts.
out a fundraising campaign. You

All donors — foundations, corporations
PRACTICE ASKING! and individuals — value honesty,
Asking for money can be intimidating, transparency and respect. The best,
especially when you do it face-to-face. A shy longest-lasting and most productive
person probably needs a bit of training in relationships are based on trust. How do
fundraising to learn how to do it gracefully. you earn that trust?
Make sure your NGO is equipped to provide ➠ Be as accurate, truthful and clear as you
this training. can be. This protects your reputation
and that of the sector as a whole.
➠ Make sure that all your written
➠ To know that the money is being used materials and all the people who speak
as planned. on behalf of your organization are
➠ To know that their gift has made a accurate in what they say.
difference. ➠ Be prepared to explain how you spend
your NGO’s money. Have clear,
accurate and up-to-date financial
As you make fundraising plans, think ➠ Make sure you understand and adhere
about how to involve your community. to the conditions stipulated by your
Don’t assume that they are not able to donors. Are you allowed to use the
make financial contributions or participate money as you see fit or is there a
in fundraising activities because they have requirement to spend it over a specific
low levels of income and formal education. period of time or to implement a certain
Often, those who benefit from an NGO program or activity? Are there specific
are among the most willing to support it outcomes that the donor expects to see?
and give whatever they can. Are you required to mention the donor’s
WE CAN! is forming a fundraising name in materials produced using the
team of project participants, their family donation? Make sure there is agreement
members, and volunteers. They have
decided to make desserts and sell them to
support the NGO. Remember that you
need to spend money to make money. So,
WE CAN! buys the flour, eggs, sugar and
other things to make the desserts. They
might not make a profit the first time. But
in grassroots work, friend raising is almost
as important as fundraising. While WE Just as a prospective corporate funder will
CAN! volunteers are selling the desserts, look at your NGO’s track record, you should
they’ll tell people about their wonderful look carefully at the corporation’s track
organization and make new friends who record in your community and beyond.
might support the NGO in the future by While all corporations want to enhance their
public image, you might not want to be
giving money or volunteering.
associated with a corporation that is trying
to repair its image after having caused harm
to people or the environment.

on the conditions before you accept
a donation.
You must win trust in order to raise funds.
Building relationships and securing It’s that simple. Whether donors are
funding from foundations, corporations community members of modest means
and individuals is a lot of work. You or institutions and individuals with deep
need to involve staff, board, volunteers, pockets, they must believe in the value
project participants and other community of your NGO’s work. You earn their trust
members. Consider a division of labor through your integrity.
in which the executive director or other
staff develop the proposals to foundations
and corporations, while board members
and volunteers handle raising funds from
individuals. Board members are often When your NGO is just beginning to raise
able to make convincing appeals because money, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.
they are not paid for their NGO service. There is a lot to learn and a lot to
Funders may think that if these people do. Build a team of people to develop
volunteer their time and energy, the fundraising plans, carry them out and
organization must be worthy. learn together. As with other aspects
Develop systems and procedures to of your NGO’s work, evaluate your
track all aspects of fundraising, such fundraising efforts. After you have your
as objectives, tasks, timelines and first meeting with a funder, evaluate what
responsibilities. Keep records of: you did well and what you could have
➠ Your fundraising prospects. For done better. If you hold a fundraising
example, create a file for each one that event, assess how well it met your
includes contact information, notes on objectives and what can be improved.
conversations you have had with them, The most important rule of fundraising is
materials you have sent and proposals that you have to ask! The worst that can
submitted. happen is a foundation, corporation or
➠ Funds received from foundations individual will say no. If they do, find
and corporations. Once you receive out why.
a grant from a foundation or a
contribution from a corporation, pay
careful attention to requirements
for documenting project activities,
managing the money and submitting
➠ Contributions from individuals. Keep
a list of donor names, their donation
amounts and their contact information.
Make sure to thank them so you can
go back to them next year and ask for
another contribution.

Numerous tools useful for research, development and
operation of nongovernmental organizations are available. Many
of these are online. Here are a few of those resources.

Mosaica NonProfitExpert.Com World NGO Resource Page
Mosaica: The Center for Nonprofit
Development and Pluralism provides ngos.htm
organizational development tools, This compendium of resources offers
including training, to multicultural guidelines on all aspects of NGO
NGOs. Materials are available in Spanish, operation, including sources of funding in
Bosnian-Croatian, Hebrew, Arabic and the United States and advice on filling out
Farsi/Dari. grant applications.

This website was created by the Global The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for
Development Research Center (GDRC), an AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) partners with
independent, nonprofit think tank focused governments and private organizations,
on broad-based global development. It including NGOs, to help save lives and
offers a venue “for NGOs to discuss, bring treatment to those infected with
debate and disseminate information on HIV/AIDS by supporting education and
their work, strategies and results.” public health efforts internationally. It
is part of the President’s Global Health
NGO Connect Initiative.
NGO Connect has assembled a wide President’s Global Health Initiative
range of resources for NGOs, including
information on best practices, a searchable The President’s Global Health Initiative
database that includes case studies, managed by the U.S. Department of
project reports, toolkits and links to State focuses on better integration and
recommended websites. Some materials coordination among programs supported
are also in Arabic, French, Russian by the U.S. government with countries,
and Spanish. donors, NGOs and communities. The
emphasis is on building sustainable
programs, gender equality, healthy
children and HIV/AIDS.

The Foundation Center U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Grants
This foremost source for information and-reporting/
about philanthropy worldwide, The The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Foundation Center, publishes books, (USFWS) actively engages in building
maintains an online database and runs capacity of and supporting wildlife
workshops to inform and facilitate conservation NGOs. Wildlife Without
connections between foundation funders Borders has 10 grants programs that
and prospective grantees. It operates fund international wildlife conservation
library/learning centers in five U.S. cities projects.
and maintains the Foundation Directory
Online. Subscription required. WANGO
The Foundation Directory Online The World Association of Non- Governmental Organizations aims to
Developed by The Foundation Center, this give “support needed for NGOs to
database connects grant seekers with grant connect, partner, share, inspire, and
makers by providing information about multiply their contributions to solve
more than 100,000 U.S. foundations and humanity’s basic problems.”
corporate donors. It includes details of
more than 2.4 million recent grants and
thousands of key decision makers, and is
updated weekly. Subscription required.

USAID Partnership Opportunities
The United States Agency for International
Development (USAID) works with
NGOs large and small throughout
the world, funding programs that
deliver humanitarian assistance, build
infrastructure, develop and support
public health programs, implement
environmental conservation programs and
many other projects.

The NGO Handbook
A Handbook Series Edition

Published in 2012 by: Bureau of International Information Programs

United States Department of State


Coordinator:............................................... Dawn L. McCall
Executive Editor: ..................................... Nicholas S. Namba
Publications Director: ......................... Michael Jay Friedman
Editorial Director: ................................... Mary T. Chunko
Production Chief: ................................... Michelle L. Farrell
Editors: ........................................................... Lea Terhune, Phillip C. Kurata
Art Director: ............................................... Min-Chih Yao
Photo Researcher: ................................. Ann Monroe Jacobs

Front Cover: (From top, left to right) UN Women/Ryan Brown; © 2003-2012 Shutterstock Images LLC;
© AP Images/Tony Avelar; © Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; © 2012 Thinkstock;
© 2003-2012 Shutterstock Images LLC; © Jon Feingersh Photography/SuperStock/Corbis