Becoming Self Sustaining

A thought occurred to me the other day as regards the whole debate about NGO's becoming self sustaining. With the non-profit that I run, when I recruited/brought on board the people who currently work with us, they were brought into the organization, as they fulfilled the brief and mandate of an NGO (in our case including special needs, ex-street children etc). 

This mandate as we all well know is much broader than a lean and mean profit generating organization, which ultimately has a buck as its bottom line. What concerns me is that we establish and staff organizations as NGO's, and somewhere along the line, we then try to fashion them into a self sustaining entity. Essentially once you are self sustaining, you are essentially a business in NGO clothing, you just give things different names. In the process of transformation, the theory goes that you train your staff to make the jump.

What worries me is that a question, which perhaps needs thinking about is, surely some of the staff recruited under the mandate of an NGO, even with training, are not going to be able to make the jump to working effectively in a profit generating entity? I am not saying this is the case, but the current dispensation does assumes that there is an entrepreneur lurking in everyone, just waiting for some funds and a learnership to set them free.

I am worried that I do not hear people talking about these issues, whatever their opinion may be. I am a varsity educated, English first language and  computer literate, and I find the move to retail, self sustainability and entrepreneurship hard enough. I worry that people are not willing to look at the gap that NGO's and their teams are being asked to jump. It is not impossible, but the current thinking by corporates is that within a 3 year funding window period, NGO's can make this jump. We need to discuss this as NGO's. If the debate is taking place,

I would be keen to join it, as I think I could learn a lot from it. My mind changes every minute about this, and I would be keen to hear what other people think about it?

 

Robin Opperman-Umcebo Trust.

Author(s): 
Robin Opperman

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