What Is an NGO Consultancy?

Mark Wollacott

An NGO consultancy offers advice, training and solutions to Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) across the world. Consultancy services include assessments, legal advice, project and organizational structure advice. They are on offer for both national and international NGOs, if the NGO is willing or able to pay for the services. Each NGO consultancy is run and staffed by people experienced in the world of non-government organizations and international development.

An NGO might work to provide goods and supplies to an area.
An NGO might work to provide goods and supplies to an area.

NGOs are created for a variety of reasons. These may be social or political, and they may be long- or short-term projects. They fall into a middle area between being government departments and being independent, profit-driven businesses. Most NGOs are, therefore, not for profit organizations that are funded by government or inter-governmental funding.

NGO consulting involves the analysis of the area in which the NGO is focused.
NGO consulting involves the analysis of the area in which the NGO is focused.

While NGOs first emerged in the 19th century, the number of organizations grew significantly in the second half of the 20th century. While some NGOs are created by people with experience in running such organizations or at least by running government departments or independent businesses, many others are not. This opened a gap in the market for each NGO consultancy to exploit. The services offered by a NGO consultancy can be divided into four sectors: organization, training, finance and project management.

Organizational advice and assistance are naturally aimed at new NGOs, but can also be effective for NGOs that wish to function more efficiently. Services tend to concentrate first on structure, ensuring that the NGO functions well, has the necessary employees and systems in place, and does what it was set up to do. The latter comes by the NGO consultancy helping the NGO to focus on its vision and mission. Other organizational help offered by consultancies includes capacity building, improvement planning and organizational culture development.

Training advice is aimed at two sections of the NGO. First, upper management is trained in organizing and running the organizations and, second, employees are trained to do their jobs. Training covers various aspects of an organization from team-building to recruitment policy. Needs-based training covers specifics of the NGO’s declared vision and mission. Other training schemes look towards fundraising methods and strategies and towards improving communication and networking strategies.

Financial advice from an NGO consultancy focuses on areas such as fundraising and accounting. As a result, the consultancy offers services that help NGOs with grant applications, getting tax exemptions and account management. They also offer legal advice to NGOs in domestic and foreign settings.

Project management covers the planning, execution and assessment of a specific event or project in the field. Planning ranges from outlining the project to organizing logistics. Project management often includes monitoring and assessment of an ongoing project by the NGO consultancy. They also look towards aspects of a project such as community involvement, impact and public relations.

A number of NGO consultancies also work with donors. They help donors in risk assessment when choosing which NGO to invest in. This means the donor can be assured that the NGO both exists and does the work it claims to.

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