|NGO Guidelines for Good Policy and Practice (Commonwealth Foundation)|
|Part I: NGOs: what they are and what they do|
|6. The governance and operation of NGOs|
Work in NGOs has always been demanding. It has traditionally attracted people having high ideals, boundless energy, creativity, commitment and resilience. It is a sector which has a high level of female participation among volunteers and staff as well as at a leadership level. Indeed in some countries, such as Jamaica, the majority of NGO leaders are women. The explosion of NGO activities over the recent past has not only been quantitative, but qualitative, too. As has been noted, NGOs can now be very large and complex entities, financing and running their own programmes as well as being contracted by governments and others to be providers and deliverers of public services. They may simultaneously operate a number of activities, from service delivery to advocacy and campaigning. At the same time they will be seeking funds for their work from a wide range of sources, and applying these funds to their work in the most effective and efficient manner. They will also constantly review, monitor and plan their work. They have to be able to mobilise the creative energies of a team including paid staff, Board members, volunteers, members and beneficiaries. They need to inspire as well as manage. In participatory NGOs, managers also need to know how to work with people rather than administer unto them. Many NGOs work in insecure circumstances, by virtue of having to rely on funding from external sources.
All this means that NGO managers have to be a unique breed of men and women. It is however recognised that:
- the personal qualities of the unique breed need to be supplemented and complemented by the possession of knowledge and skills relevant to the NGO s activities, provisions and target groups, and to the tasks involved in the management of the organisation as a whole. The personal qualities and dispositions of NGO managers are not enough in themselves to sustain and enhance the work and development of the organisations, in other words:
- efficient and effective management and financial systems are essential in NGOs.