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A couple of years ago, the notion of building your own nonprofit /(also known as Non-government organization) NGO and chasing funders left and right to fund your projects would be faced with trepidation. Not now.
There were many new NGOs and INGOs that have mushroomed in the last five to ten years.
Yes, the facility, the technology, the networking, and the amount of information that we have about what works and what do not work have abounded in a gazillion times.
This is also the era of start-ups, innovation prizes, and private sector-led initiatives that call for market-oriented solutions.
Everyone can be a disruptor, innovator, accelerator, and other important adjectives or noun that you can name. I just googled the word ‘disruptor’ and guess what, it produced 10,600,000 results.
There were many instances and conversations with groups, individuals, and networks I found myself in small chit-chats that revolved around about building an NGO for this and that. It is a noble and endearing idea that some people will commit their life and time to help others and for social good.
But, I think that people have misunderstood the day-to-day work that it requires.
A lot of nonprofits fail because they do not have the business mindset and the financial management skills to keep it afloat.
Marketing is a number one preoccupation aside from getting those services out in the door to the target communities. If you do not have the plan to keep it sustainable, you will literally have to use your personal monies to keep it barely alive.
I have worked with founders and creators of various nonprofits and all their time is devoted to getting funds either by grants, donations, and other creative income-generation mechanisms.
Do not be surprised that by the first 5 years or more, this is what the CEO and Founder’s job would look like. Not very glamorous.
This search for funding has gotten a lot in trouble. From a nonprofit that works in, for example, the environment starts working on a different mandate totally unrelated to their core mission.
The chase for money can lead to further scope creep, venturing to unknown and inexperience lands just to get some dollars pumping into the organization before another staff gets to asked to resign. I have seen this practice a lot.
They tend to do many differentiated things but lose a lot of focus and expertise due to being a "Jack of All Trades."
They also court new donors with new monies on new ‘flavor of the month’ topics such as greening “everything” or using "technology" as a the solution to all social ills in the world without checking for what works with their client communities.
Building an NGO is a very demanding and challenging experience. Some people have built NGOs that have lasted for many decades and have succeeded a lot. Some built NGOs to be their own boss.
Giving back is the least reason why a new nonprofit has to be built. There are 1001 ways to give back without building one.
Start with the local community agencies in your area and build the required skills, perspectives, and experience you need to determine if this is the road you want to travel on.
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