The hard, commercial reality of being an NGO

In the past, volunteers and employees of NGO’s were often people that had difficulty ‘fitting in’. They were people on a mission to do good in the world. They choose to ‘solve world hunger before breakfast’, rather than working for a profit organisation that did little to fulfil their need to change the world. 

Fast forward to the present and many NGOs are analyzing their business plans, revisiting their strategies and ultimately, reorganizing. Dutch NGOs, in particular, are focused on 2015. The year in which many government subsidies will cease to exist. A year in which NGO’s will need to be self sufficient. The year in which non-profit meets profit! 

The unfortunate circumstance of this hard reality is that many people may no longer ‘fit’. Let’s face it, ‘do gooders’ will always be necessary. Those people that join NGOs to travel the world in order to teach, to  rebuild homes or makeshift shelter, to offer love and understanding, to save lives; the list goes on and on. The hard reality however, is that if the back office is not working effectively, the front office can’t go and get its hands dirty.

NGOs need to be far more commercial, than they may have been used to. They need to make themselves really attractive to third parties in order to raise funds. They need to review their business propositions and be more flexible than they’ve ever been. They need to focus on running a profitable business. 

‘Profit’ is a dirty word in the mouths of many hard core volunteers in the ‘front office’. What these people need to understand is that without profit, generated in the back office, the front office ceases to exist.

The coming 3 years will not be easy for many NGOs. But, it’s my opinion that when IQ and EQ converge, or should I say the worlds of profit and non-profit, that real change will start to happen in the world.

Let’s make sustainable waves!

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