A team celebrates with a high five in an office
A team celebrates with a high five in an office

Five ways to build a better NGO in the new normal

We are living in a world where climate change, humanitarian crises, energy and water shortages, war and mass migration are becoming increasingly common.

In such a challenging environment, non-profit organisations need to work harder than ever to have an impact. Through their work with non-profit leaders, MzN International has identified five ways to build a better NGO in the new normal.

1. Nurture (not lead) people

In the past, leadership in non-profit organisations meant taking charge, making decisions and giving instructions. Great NGO leaders understand that true leadership involves nurturing teams and empowering them to take ownership of their work. To achieve this, leaders need to hold fewer meetings and make expectations clear. Meetings often create a culture of talking about work instead of doing it. It is better to reduce their frequency and make them more effective. Leaders should set clear expectations, communicate effectively and give feedback to their teams to keep them aligned with the organisation’s goals.

2. Diversify NGO income (and do it fast)

Relying on one or two sources of funding can leave NGOs vulnerable to sudden funding cuts or changes in donor priorities. To build a better NGO in the new normal, leaders need to diversify their income streams quickly. This means growing their list of key donors and adding at least two new ones every year. Leaders should assess their existing donor base, identify potential new donors, and develop a strategy for engaging with them. Building relationships with donors takes time, so it is important to start early and plan for the long term.

3. Transform your NGO to go agile (for real this time)

Covid-19 highlighted the importance of adapting quickly to changing circumstances. Non-profit organisations need to be agile, but this requires more than just using agile methodologies such as diversified income streams, trust-based collaboration and data based work, (take a look at our agile methodology article for more). Leaders need to identify and prioritise what their organisation needs to get work done and eliminate everything else. By focusing on the essentials, they can create a leaner, more flexible organisation that can respond quickly to changing circumstances.

Join us for our upcoming event: Five ways to build a better NGO in the new normal

On 25th April, Bond and MzN are delighted to be hosting a webinar which will dig deeper into what they have learnt from NGO leaders on how to build a better NGO and have an impact in the ‘new normal’.

Register now

4. Learn something new every day

In a fast-changing world, non-profit leaders need to stay ahead of the curve. This means collecting data, analysing it, gaining insights and using foresight to predict future trends. Leaders should encourage their teams to learn something new every day and provide them with the tools and resources they need to do so. This could involve attending conferences, taking online courses, or simply reading up on the latest industry news. By staying informed and up-to-date, leaders can make better decisions and build a stronger NGO.

5. Take better care of yourselves

Non-profit leaders often work long hours and face high levels of stress. In the new normal, where challenges are more complex and widespread, it is more important than ever to take care of oneself. Leaders need to upgrade their self-care and prioritise their physical and mental well-being. This could involve taking breaks, practising mindfulness or exercising. By taking care of themselves, leaders can lead by example and create a culture of wellbeing within their organisation.

Building a better NGO in the new normal requires leaders to nurture their teams, diversify their income, transform their organisation to be agile, learn something new every day and take better care of themselves. By incorporating these five crucial strategies, non-profit leaders specialising in organisational development, strategy, and change can significantly enhance their ability to construct the NGO of the future. In doing so, leaders can create an organisation that is more resilient, more impactful, and better equipped to tackle the challenges of the new normal.