3 Tips To Foster NGO SustainabilitySmita Kalappa | February 2, 2016
Any organisation looking to continue expanding its operations needs to build a sustainable business model. NGOs, in particular, find it difficult to fulfil their mission and meet the needs of their key stakeholders over time without a well-structured growth plan.
A sustainable NGO is one that is able to periodically achieve its strategic goals and steadily continue its work through the years.
Sustainability needs to be seen as an ongoing process that involves the interaction between different strategic, organisational, programmatic, social, and financial elements of an organisation.
This article is meant to provide a little more insight into fostering NGO sustainability.
Building and Maintaining Relationships
Sustainable NGOs build strong relationships with their key stakeholders, like donors, supporters, volunteers, staff, and beneficiaries. This helps to promote internal cohesion and makes operations a lot smoother.
Because of the nature of the work, these relationships tend to be relatively more personal, which fosters a sense of trust between the parties involved.
This helps the decision-making process and ensures accountability. A relationship built on personal rapport and open dialogue is absolutely essential for an NGO to strengthen its operations.
Improvement of Techniques
Even if an NGO does not plan on expanding operations significantly, there is always a necessity to improve internal processes.
Growth gives donors and other stakeholders a reason to invest their money in the organisation.
Most donors choose to support NGOs that are working for a cause which aligns with their beliefs. If they notice that the organisation is growing, it’s sure to spark their interest and help the organisation secure a reliable source of money.
Figuring out a Source of Finance
The most important factor that determines the sustainability of an NGO is the source of its funds.
A vast majority of NGOs are gift-based, and receive their funds in a variety of ways, including one-off gifts, personal donations, and by hosting fundraising events.
While it’s difficult to obtain funds through this method, the main advantage is that the organisation receives what’s called ‘free money’ or unrestricted funds. This means that they’re free to use the funds in any way they please, for the development of the NGO and its projects.
If an NGO’s model is based on monetary gifts, it’ll need to take certain steps to ensure a steady supply of money to carry out their operations.
The foremost of these is building strong personal relationships with a variety of people. Promoting its name and brand to ensure that it has the widest public reach possible also helps. As a cautionary measure, excess funds should be set aside as reserve, in case the organisation encounters a dry spell.
Direct Official Aid
Some NGOs rely on direct official aid to fund their projects. The benefit here is that they’ve got a steady flow of income to rely on throughout the year. But there’s a drawback: most official donors specify the purpose for which their funds need to be used, and that may not always be in alignment with the NGO’s mission.
So, organisations looking for official financial aid need to strike a balance between procuring funds and sticking to their mission statement.
These are just a few steps that NGOs can use to bring about a more sustainable future. It’s essential that NGOs conduct their processes with a long-term vision in mind, because without a plan, the organisation will perish.