How may NGOs cope with challenges of creative disruption?

As a non-governmental or not for profit organization, you are confronted with mounting challenges and threats. … Once upon a time it was sufficient to have a good story, present a nice project and be convincing about your noble intentions. While this is still essential, you now also need to demonstrate good value for money. You are expected to enhance your accountability. You need to show how, and to what extent, you are effectively generating worthwhile societal or ecological value, and increasing efforts are required to enhance the trustworthiness of such claims.

There are multiple good reasons to argue and lobby for sufficient recurring and structural funding of well-performing NGOs and not for profit organizations. However, the sector observes and regrets persistent declines in the availability of structural funding. … It is also important to accept that the domain of ‘doing good’, is no longer reserved for or monopolized by NGOs or not for profit organizations. Social business and impact enterprises are increasingly entering the game. They are challenging you in your front yard and in your back yard. ….

One might argue that the trend towards measurement, results-based funding, impact investment and socially or environmentally driven entrepreneurship are increasingly disrupting the not for profit sector. … Agility in changing times is crucial. Some of your embedded patterns and cherished paradigms could be hampering the innovation you urgently need. While thoroughly remaining not for profit, you may adopt (aspects of) inclusive entrepreneurial models that allow for balanced income generation, reducing your dependency on donor funding, mitigating related risks of mission drift, and enhancing your ability to create and demonstrate societal and ecological value and impact. …

The first step is to shift your own paradigms. Try to distinguish between the essence of your not for profit organization – which you need to preserve and sharpen – and the ballast you may want to get rid of to survive in this changing environment.

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