Advocating for Effective Investments in NGO Operations

Advocating for Effective Investments in NGO Operations

Over the last several years, Humentum’s sharing of best practices, recognition of organizational excellence in Humentum Connect, and benchmarking of indirect costs and full cost recovery have revealed a diversity of approaches reflecting the unique nature of the missions, programs, and operating models of our member organizations. As we move toward the end of 2015, we are seeing two clear trends: First, there is growing recognition that investments in operational talent, resources, and capabilities in international NGOs are essential so that NGOs can deliver on their mission and achieve results. Second, international NGO operations are becoming more local, more integrated, and more strategic, to enable the transformation of traditional organizations to emerging models with an interest in collaborating with the private sector.

We support the nonprofit sector’s efforts to reframe the important, ongoing dialogue on nonprofit overhead and the overhead myth. At the Humentum Annual Conference in July 2015, members flocked to a session on Solving the Overhead Myth: Moving to Solutions. Since our initial co-sponsoring of the first Summit To End The Overhead Myth in 2014, Humentum has continued to convene thought leaders, NGOs, and foundations to deepen the conversation on moving beyond using nonprofit organization’s overhead ratio as a sole measure of mission success.

This year looks to be the year that donors and funders are responding to our collective raised voices and moving away from focusing on overhead spending as the major measure for NGO impact. See how The Ford Foundation is addressing what they call the “overhead fiction” head on:

Changing the dialogue on overhead constraints is just one way in which Humentum is advocating for a more flexible approach in supporting NGOs to achieve their missions. Together with our members, we at Humentum are exploring the opportunities found at the intersection between the private and nonprofit sectors. Supporting efforts to attract new resources to support nonprofits is essential as the scale of needs continues to grow. In October 2015, we joined with Pact and Mercy Corps to announce a new forum for international NGOs engaging in impact investing and social enterprise. This forum will convene leaders from a wide range of international nonprofits active in these areas to learn, collaborate, conduct joint research, and collectively advocate for new ways to advance global development. Learn more about the forum here.


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