Two Golden Rules

Guide to Financial Management

Two Golden Rules

Golden Rule 1

NGOs' front line staff have to maintain a good quality dialogue with the people they aim to help.

This requires that managers should ask two key questions at each stage of the project cycle:

  • Who is making decisions or analysing the situation?
  • Do activities help people build up their self-confidence, and ability to tackle their own priorities?

Staff have to build up dialogue with all local groups of people, including the poorest and most marginalised. This is sometimes known as ‘downward accountability’.

Golden Rule 2

NGOs depend on their front line staff and have to help them make good judgements - and check whether they do.


For instance, this can involve:

  • Ensuring they share the organisation’s social values
  • Reinforcing their commitment to helping people help themselves
  • Helping them build up their own skills
  • Providing them with good quality information
  • Decentralising decision-making, and encouraging flexibility (with suitable controls)
  • Focusing on ‘customer-service’
  • Asking for feedback from beneficiaries / partners
  • Reducing staff turnover.


'Development management... is not just a question of getting the task at hand completed by the best means available.'
Alan Thomas


'NGOs deliver quality work when their work is based on a sensitive and dynamic understanding of beneficiaries’ realities; responds to local priorities in a way beneficiaries feel is appropriate; and is judged to be useful by beneficiaries.'

Back to top