Establishing an NGO is only the first step on the long path to its success. Running it requires putting effort in various areas of the business – from proper management of team members, and organizing projects benefiting society to raising funds necessary for day-to-day operations. Here’s a look at what it takes to run an NGO effectively.

Effective ways to run an NGO – table of contents:

  1. Properly defined purpose of the activity
  2. A detailed action plan
  3. Constantly keeping marketing in mind
  4. Taking care of the permanent team
  5. Support in daily work – information systems
  6. Effective ways to run an NGO – summary

Properly defined purpose of the activity

You surely know your scope and for whom your NGO works – these two elements will make it easier for you to define your main goal. However, remember to make it achievable (so called created according to the SMART concept: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). Only in this way will effectively run an NGO and get satisfied with the results of your work. To do this, it is worthwhile to conduct research among the local community, through which you will determine its practical needs, if met would like to achieve through your work. It’s much easier to make a change by taking one small action first, and only later taking other, larger-scale actions.

A detailed action plan

Without a properly developed action strategy, you will not be able to achieve the goals you have set – both for yourself personally and for the NGO. Awareness in this regard will make it easier to take any action: advertising, fundraising or recruitment. The best way to do this is to set operational goals (concerning the performance of specific tasks and activities), tactical goals (concerning the operation of a part of the organization) together with strategic goals (long-range goals, defined in a perspective of more than a year) – as in the case of business enterprises.


Constantly keeping marketing in mind

Running an NGO effectively will not be possible without undertaking a variety of marketing activities to help raise awareness of the NGO among the community. From a website to local advertising, regular social media posting, these elements become essential to build the organization’s brand recognition. What’s more, they help with fundraising, recruiting volunteers willing to take action or raising awareness of an issue your NGO is addressing. A website is also the best way to conduct networking, thanks to which you can establish valuable partnerships or obtain funding. By the way – thanks to your contacts with other organizations – you will learn from others’ failures as well as benefit from the achievements of others.

Taking care of the permanent team

You may have a great desire to act for a specific public welfare goal, but without your supportive team, you won’t make it. Gathering a dedicated group that shares the same desire to volunteer poses the greatest challenge and becomes the decisive factor for its success. However, your work doesn’t end there – you also need to make sure that individual team members get motivated to work for the community, which will require a lot of effort from you. After all, it’s easier to invite someone to work with you than to make sure they want to stay with the organization for a long time.

In this regard, balance your week schedule to nurture your private life, hobbies, family etc. This way you’ll achieve success without risking that your enthusiasm subsides after a year or two (especially since setting-out is usually immensely exhausting).

Support in daily work – information systems

Your NGO’s day-to-day operations will undoubtedly run by various software and IT systems offered free of charge to NGOs. Among the most popular free tools are Google’s suite of services (Google for Non Profit Organizations, G4NP) replacing Microsoft Office (for effective communication and management), Canva Pro (for graphic design) or Firmbee (for project management). Firmbee equips you with a number of functionalities that make the organization of NGOs projects easier. Here’s the list of some key functionalities:

  • Task management with kanban boards
  • Creating a base and recruiting volunteers (including integration with Slack)
  • Assigning tasks to team members and monitoring their statuses
  • Prioritizing individual tasks
  • Monitoring the time spent on tasks
  • Reminding people of the task deadline
  • Budget control
  • Record keeping
  • Report generation
  • Granting different levels of authority (depending on the role played in the team)

What’s more, with Firmbee you can ensure transparency of your organization’s activities by granting guest access to donor information. You get all these functionalities free of charge – all you have to do is register on the manufacturer’s website, then email [email protected] indicating that you would like to apply Firmbee’s capabilities in your NGO.


Effective ways to run an NGO – summary

What is the conclusion of the above considerations? The key thing to remember is that in many ways, managing an NGO resembles managing an ordinary business – although, of course, NGOs, unlike private sector businesses, do not operate for profit. Still, adopting good practices from business domain becomes the basis of ensuring that our NGO will develop in the right direction. Would you take this advice and apply it in your business?

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Author: Andy Nichols

A problem solver with 5 different degrees and endless reserves of motivation. This makes him a perfect Business Owner & Manager. When searching for employees and partners, openness and curiosity of the world are qualities he values the most.