Institutional Suicide

Institution

I’ve volunteered with a few NGOS, both faith-based and non-faith based. It amazes me just how many of them are heading towards institutional obsolescence.

A few months ago, I was having an internal conversation and a phrase ran through my mind – “Should you care about an institution more than it cares for itself?” I answered by saying, “It’s true, Subomi. You shouldn’t take Panadol for another man’s headache.”

Sometimes, when you work with an NGO, you realise that they are not serious.

When an executive volunteers for a cause, they are giving their extra time. They typically have a day job or business they’re running. But, because they are passionate about the cause, they give their time. Therefore, as the convener of an NGO, you cannot want to do your own 9 to 5, then complain that your volunteers call you or respond to your emails at odd hours or on weekends. That’s the only time they have for you! You must be flexible, if you need their help.

Another thing is, results matter. Executives do not get to where they are by planning and strategising, without executing. They consider it a supreme waste of talent, resources and networks to contribute to an NGO, only for the organisation to not execute.

Loyalty and reciprocity matter. If someone is dedicated to your cause, you must also support the things that are important to them and show up.

Don’t take your volunteers for granted. Little things, like providing lunch at meetings or choosing a comfortable venue, demonstrate that while you can never pay your volunteers, you will do the little you can.

Finally, build your brand. Those who value their reputations, want to be associated with strong brands. That is why some NGOs find it easier to raise money than others. It is not enough to stand for a cause, NGOs must communicate that cause in a desirable and attractive manner.

If you are an NGO and are mindful of these points, perhaps you will escape institutional suicide.

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