Organisational challenges facing International NGOs

August 18, 2020

While it seems clear that our world will be radically changed by the 2020 global pandemic, the knock-on impact on NGOs are likely to be far reaching and long lasting. The associated economic downturn means the medium-term forecasts for aid budgets and donations is bleak. 

In the short term, several government and private sector grants have been made available for NGOs. Some only apply to those operating on the Covid frontline, however, as time goes on they are broadening to include NGOs tackling other issues. Global organisations like the World Economic Forum are also working on potential solutions for funding to support NGOs through unprecedented situations that we may face in future. 

Unfortunately NGOs are not immune to corruption. Financial corruption in the form of bribery, fraud, kickbacks, or double funding divert resources and draw negative attention. This also causes reputational damage. Transparent governance is key to maintaining and building your reputation as a trustworthy NGO. Good governance happens through an internal system of checks and balances that distributes power and authority between management and a board of governors. The aim is to ensure public and beneficiary interest is at the heart of all decisions.
Many NGOs are so busy with current needs that future challenges are not planned for. The best global NGOs can take learnings from their past and apply them in a strategic plan for their future. A written plan identifies the best approach your organisation can take to advance your mission while also allowing for expected internal and external change. Like any business plan, it needs to be a living document that is regularly updated to consider unforeseen developments. For example, many NGOs may not have planned for the impact Covid-19 has had on funding, however, they may have contingency plans for a loss of funds due to other circumstances that can now be implemented. 

When an NGO is run by the founder or a small team of people who established the organisation, it may experience additional challenges. Founder syndrome is a situation where the founders of an organisation believe it would fall apart without them or their identity becomes synonymous with the organisation. The downside to this is all major decisions are made by these individuals with little input from others. The board of directors may be appointed based on loyalty and ideas coming from those other than the founder are dismissed. This can leave NGOs exposed to risk – what if something happens to the founder? Protect the longevity of an NGO with a clear succession plan. If you are not sure where to begin, there are experts that can help your business survive and thrive.. 

As a global not for profit you have faced many challenges in 2020, don’t let your employee’s health and wellbeing be one of them. Provide employees who work overseas with access to quality healthcare through international health insurance tailored to NGO needs.