Knowing NGOs


We understand that NGOs are, more often than not, started and run by leaders with immense passion and with a mission to “save the world”. This is a laudable and absolutely necessary attribute. You do your best work when you remain fully focused upon the goals you set yourself. You rely on talented people, often specialists, to deliver your chosen mandate and, in many cases, your NGO grows rapidly because of the need to fill the gap in delivering services expected of government or to supplement such services - often without recognition or official support, as such organisations are not hampered by ideology or bureaucracy.

But your NGO is a business too and passion alone will not sustain it. Your NGOs needs Leadership supported by a solid foundation of business features to enable your operations to grow and prosper securely .


Firstly, like a business, it is critical to make sure that your management and staff are highly-engaged and committed to taking self-directed action. This ensures that your leadership is not distracted by constant supervision.

But realising such engagement is not easy. It requires the elimination of “dissatisfiers” that make people unhappy in their positions and, at the same time, strengthening “satisfiers” that make people want to come to work and be productive. We can help you implement a secure foundation to keep your people satisfied in the work environment and the primary building block for this is a well-managed and professional employment function.

The good news is that you do not need to have a large HR department to carry out this function because it can be outsourced to our Professional Employer Organisation Services (PEO). In a principal-recipient NGO, it is often appropriate for the staff to be employed by the NGO itself, but in a sub-recipient, it is often far more appropriate to have the staff employed on an outsourced basis by the PEO as the registered employer. This will help to keep your administrative overheads at a manageable level and in line with revenues which go up and down as projects are started and completed.

We, as the PEO, will make sure that your NGO is fully compliant in terms of labour law, employee taxation, social securities and all related employment legislation. In South Africa, such legislation is extensive and stretches from the usual payroll administration, workman’s compensation, unemployment insurance, contracts of employment, job descriptions, critical skills and general work permits right through to skills development and Broad-Based Black Employment Equity. It is also essential in such a working environment to have the correct employment contracts, policies and procedures, employee benefit schemes, conflict resolution, contract and project termination processes. This will remove many of the major dissatisfiers in an organisation. In addition, best-practice remuneration with a well-established job-grading system will ensure that employees feel their salaries are fair and thus remove a common blockage to job satisfaction.

We can also advise on financial management, including business and project reporting. It is essential that where specific projects enjoy specific funding from donors, the project financing is kept separate from other projects. It is surprising how many NGOs have a central bank account where all funding is deposited and then used for a number of different projects as well as administrative payments. This makes audit trails particularly difficult and the reporting of financial management to donors becomes quite unwieldy. Each project should have two bank accounts, one for transactions and a second one to hold spare project funds while earning interest. A further bank account should be used for the NGO’s administrative payments.

We can also assist with a final part of an NGO’s foundation, especially in a country like South Africa, which is Community and Stakeholder Engagement. The local community plays a huge part in South African business affairs in both the profit and non-profit sectors and businesses and NGOs can only be sustainable if they focus on community liaison. Similarly other stakeholders, as with employee-engagement above, like banks, auditors, insurance companies and other professionals, must be part of a well thought-out stakeholder engagement programme.

As an NGO grows, therefore, we can put in place an essential, solid foundation so that the donors are comfortable that your NGO has sound governance and administrative best-practices as an assurance of the responsible and effective application of their funding in achieving your objectives.