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What Are the Best Tips for Starting an NGO?

K.C. Bruning
Updated: May 17, 2024

Before starting a non-governmental organization (NGO), it is wise to determine whether there is truly a need for its particular services and if there is enough support available to keep it afloat. Other important things to consider when starting an NGO include the group’s mission, resources, and potential funding. It is also wise to consider the nature of the organization’s leadership, staff, and overall structure.

Previous experience in a similar organization can be helpful when starting an NGO. This is one of the best ways to learn how such an organization runs and what sorts of challenges to expect. It can also help the founders to determine whether they are suited to the demands of this kind of undertaking.

Before starting an NGO, it is also advisable to determine whether there is a need for the organization in question. This includes finding out if another group or groups are performing the same service and whether there are gaps in what they offer. It also involves learning about the target population and researching their needs.

Another important task is to build staff and volunteer support for a new NGO. This includes efforts to ensure that supporters who are passionate in the early days of the organization are kept engaged over the long-term. It also involves finding people who understand and are able to advocate effectively for the cause. In addition to those who understand the core mission, administrative, legal, and financial functions should also be covered.

While many groups can start small and with little funding, it is still often useful to determine potential sources of money before starting an NGO. This includes researching possibilities for private and public contributions. If possible, it can be beneficial to secure at least one major source of income before developing the organization.

Understanding avenues for promotion is another important part of starting an NGO. While it is good to start by determining where similar organizations are already marketing themselves, it can be more beneficial to find areas that are not as crowded with groups needing donations. By finding a unique angle, a new NGO can break into different sources of donors.

Effective networking in a wide array of venues is another common task of starting an NGO. This can include attending local business functions, fairs, and circulating in the community in order to spread awareness of the organization. Using online methods such as public service announcements and social media can also help to boost an organization’s profile.

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K.C. Bruning
By K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and platforms, including WiseGeek. With a degree in English, she crafts compelling blog posts, web copy, resumes, and articles that resonate with readers. Bruning also showcases her passion for writing and learning through her own review site and podcast, offering unique perspectives on various topics.
Discussion Comments
By clintflint — On Feb 08, 2015

@pastanaga - This is one reason I think people should have a wide range of experience in multiple positions and charities before they try to start their own, or at least have access to people who have that kind of expertise. It might seem easy enough to funnel money or resources to a problem, but if it was that easy the world's troubles would be long since over.

By pastanaga — On Feb 08, 2015

@umbra21 - Basically the ideal NGO is going to work with the people to see what they need and figure out ways for them to get that themselves. Micro-financing is particularly good for this, because it provides realistic expectations and allows people to really think through what they hope to achieve.

I have heard multiple stories of NGOs that have gone into an area and built something marvelous and media-friendly that the people simply aren't going to use. If you are intending to start an NGO make sure you're doing it for the right reasons and with the hope of achieving the right kind of goal.

By umbra21 — On Feb 08, 2015

One thing that I think gets ignored in far too many NGO organizations is whether or not their policies and methods have long term benefits for the people they are trying to help. And I have to say that in a lot of cases, the answer is no.

The thing that is particularly harmful is when NGOs provide artificial support for a community in a place where there is no possible means for them to become independent.

I'm not against handouts when they have long-term benefits, like vaccinations or education, but when people are helped to stay in a place where they cannot support themselves and will never be able to support themselves, spells disaster and often leads directly to literal disaster.

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and...
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