Discuss: What makes a good NGO?

17/06/2011 at 10:42 am 2 comments

In recent blog posts, we have written about the challenges facing Irish Development NGOs, and we have philosophised about the possible future shape of NGOs.

We are obsessed, you might say, with effective Development NGOs.

And for us, effective NGOs are, first and foremost, accountable NGOs.

And we have drawn up an initial list of key aspects of “NGO Quality”, which can serve as a basis for further discussions – Discussions that would also take account of the IstanbulCSODevelopmentEffectivenessPrinciples and the InternationalAidTransparencyInitiative (IATI).

This is very much a work-in-progess, and we would very much like to know if you agree with us that Effective NGOs have:


  • Strategic Plan in place, and translated into implementation plans & organisational policies.
  • Organisational “Theory Of Change” articulated.


Link to Istanbul Principle 8

  • Systems for Programming, Monitoring and Evaluation in place, and linked to Management Information Systems.
  • HR systems and policies in place, and linked to organisational strategy
  • Organisational development policies being implemented, to strengthen core competencies and skills sets.
  • Staff skills, and staff training policies.
  • Justification of the number of sectors/countries the NGO is working in.


  • Quality of financial systems and procedures.
  • Quality of financial reporting
  • Adherence to Dóchas Corporate Governance Code
  • Adherence to Dóchas Code of Conduct on Images & Messages


Link to Istanbul Principle 5

  • Partnership policy formulated and adhered to
  • Extent to which the organisation networks with other organisations, in-country, in Ireland, and globally.
  • Capacity building strategy in place, and constantly monitored.


Link to Istanbul Principle 6

  • Programmes are relevant, as well as effective (Based on quality context analysis)
  • Aligned with, or at least complementary to, Government development strategies.
  • Engagement with policy processes, in-country and in Ireland
  • Ability to demonstrate impact at project, programme and organisational level.
  • Cost-benefit analyses for major strategies (and their alternatives) regularly undertaken.


Link to Istanbul Principle 8

Added Value
  • Evidence of the organisation’s niche/area of core competence, in terms of staff, expertise and programme focus.
  • Clarity about how the organisation’s work relates to/adds to the MDGs and to a human rights approach to Development.
  • Clarity about how the organisation’s work relates to/adds to the overall Irish Aid strategy.


  • Extent to which the NGO contributes to capacity building of its partner organisations
  • Extent to which the NGO documents – and applies – its learning.
  • Quality of its evaluations
  • Availability of programme base-lines and performance indicators.


Link to Istanbul Principle 7

Public Support
  • Organisational contribution to public engagement in Ireland
  • Extent of involvement in Development Education work.
  • Extent of involvement in public campaigning


What do YOU think?

Please comment!


Also read:


Entry filed under: Development Effectiveness, NGOs, Overseas aid. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Irish NGOs ready to play their part in Review of White Paper on Irish Aid Irish Aid consults with Dóchas members on Busan Forum on Aid Effectiveness

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