This section speaks to any level of organisational development and outlines the basics of establishing and running an effective organisation. It is divided into th following sections:
The first step is organisational establishment. To register as a non-profit or non-governmental organisation (NGO) it is required by law to have a board. Inyathelo is an organisation that exists to help NGOs. There is some information on their website regarding registration and they hold open and free NGO clinics.
IkamvaYouth is a democratically-run organisation that manages by committees. Widening the participation in key decisions has a profound effect on the individual’s commitment to the programme. It is advised to put in place democratic organisational structures as soon as you can. As you grow and develop it is important to have some backbone systems in place that will make your growth much easier.
Due to transparent and democratic governance structures and a highly informed team, responsibility and information is disseminated and distributed amongst staff fairly.
There are numerous systems to establish a democratic management system. Whichever way you choose to do so, IT IS EXCEPTIONALLY IMPORTANT. The involvement of ALL in the operations is one of the keys to the success of the programme and ultimately its impact.
Project planning and management is a broad topic area. Good planning is essential in order to get where you want to go. You will need to plan regularly throughout the year, on an individual level and organisational level.
Before you can plan what it is you are going to do you need to know why you are doing it and what impact you are hoping to achieve. The Theory of Change helps you to create a causal link between what it is that you want to achieve i.e. your ultimate outcome, short and long term indicators of change, and the activities that you will undertake (outputs) and the resources needed to make these happen (inputs).
Once you know where you need to get and what you need to do to get there, it is useful to have a strategic planning session with your whole team. The outcome of strategic planning is a series of SMART objectives (specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) that help to guide the organisation’s direction. By breaking down the objective into bite-sized chunks you will actually be able to take action on your plans.
The first step to creating a dynamic team is hiring the right people. Keep an eye out for volunteers who are highly committed and are good at tutoring. Acknowledge it, and ask if they are willing to take on more responsibility. You will find that some of the most committed volunteers may be in a position to become formal employees. Hiring people who you already know and trust, and that have a good understanding of the model and what you do will increase service quality and ease of management. However, make sure you still consider their suitability for the role. Are they the best person for the job?
An organisation will normally recruit a Coordinator and an Assistant initially. You can find the job descriptions for each of these posts, which will give you some idea around how to construct your own job descriptions.
IkamvaYouth interviews and assesses candidates. Assessments are conducted to test for writing ability, familiarisation with Excel, and critical thinking.
Once you have selected the right person for the job it is a good idea to draw up a contract so that everyone is clear about the expectations etc. Things to consider to put into a contract are; working hours, salary and pay days, sick leave, leave, notice period.
Any staff member when hired is put on a 3 month probation. This protects you against poor performing staff. If you offer a permanent contract from the first instance it can get very complicated to dismiss someone who is underperforming.
At the end of the 3 months a performance review is conducted and if satisfied a permanent contract will be offered. IkamvaYouth also follows a disciplinary process if staff are not performing as expected after this 3 month probation period.
It will be important to put in place basic policies as you grow. Policies aim to maintain the well-being of your staff and protect the organisation.
Leave Policy. Resource/Template: Leave Policy
Study Assistance Policy
Medical Aid Policy
Fundraising and Sustainability
It is essential that you begin looking at the sustainability of your organisation from as early as possible. One aspect of sustainability is fundraising but there are also other activities that can increase the stability and long-term security of your programme. This includes reporting, Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E), marketing and awareness.
It is important to start collecting data early. As soon as you start your programme think about what information will show whether or not your programme is working and then make sure you have access to this information.
Fundraising is one of the hardest parts of working in the non-profit sector, particularly when you first start out.
It is worth sitting with your team to answer a few questions:
- What are our core needs? Money and resources? (Be specific!)
- What are the businesses in my immediate surroundings?
- Do any of the volunteers work for companies that could give?
- Does anyone know anyone at larger companies?
- Are there any funding trusts/foundations in the area?
Remember that not all money is good money! Just because someone offers you money it does not mean you have to take it. Consider the reason for giving, value alignment, and the expectations of the funder before diving into a grant. Be careful when accepting grants that the deliverables that you agree upon are attainable.
Most funding organisations do not accept random proposals. It is therefore important to be on the constant look out for possible funding opportunities. You can check sites such as NGO Pulse and Funds for NGOs.
Before starting any proposal familiarise yourself with the donor and their interests. Are you a good fit? Are you working in their area of interest? Do you meet their eligibility requirements?
When you first begin working on the application, check the requirements for additional documentation, reference letters, etc. When letters are required, provide referees with at least a week to provide them. Put aside A LOT of time. Proposals always take a whole lot longer than you’d expect, even when you’re an experienced proposal writer.
A good proposal will consist of the following:
- Problem statement – why are you needed?
- Outputs and Outcomes
Outputs are essentially your activities: numbers of tutoring sessions, number of workshops, numbers of learners participating, attendance results etc. This will speak directly to the budget, showing how you will spend the money.
Outcomes are the results of these activities: academic improvement, increased eligibility for quality post-school opportunities, access to tertiary and employment. This will speak to the problem statement showing how what we do will address the challenges.
To recap on some key points:
- Don’t waste time on applications for which we are not eligible.
- Don’t send generic proposals to donors; it’s the equivalent of sending generic cover letters when applying for a job.
- Don’t send an unfinished / unpolished version for last-eyes edit.
- Never leave it until the last minute!
Unfortunately your job is not over yet. In fact, once the money is in your account and the agreement is signed, the hard work really begins! You now have to spend the money and report against it. This is easier said than done.
- Begin with a summary of activities against the proposal you submitted.
- Elaborate upon your programme delivery/outputs and detail the lessons learnt -both those resulting from successes and
- Look at what you have learnt and suggest clear ways forward (particularly if you are providing a mid-grant report).
- The key is to find a way to be open and honest without alarming funders. If you are worried that you will not meet the funding deliverables or something has gone severely wrong with your programme during the funding period SPEAK TO THE FUNDER. A good funder understands the reality and will not hold you to something that you cannot achieve, particularly when it is outside of your control. BE HONEST.
While donors need to know the social returns on their investments (the outputs and outcomes of the project, programme or branch that they’re funding), they also need to know exactly how you spent their money.
Follow these steps when reporting:
- Report against each line item as featured in the original proposal
- When you have over or under-spent by more than 10%, you need to include a note or comment explaining the reasons for this. (Note that some donors have different % requirements; refer to the grant agreements for these).
- Where you have reallocated unspent funds, you need to explain what these were for.
Monitoring & Evaluation
M&E will ultimately lead to a better quality programme that will achieve more impact and having data readily available will dramatically increase the ease of your fundraising efforts. Without good reporting you won’t be able to demonstrate impact or improve your programme and you won’t be able to access funding.
For an introduction to M&E, have a look at this Beginner’s Guide produced by one of our funders, The Learning Trust.
Marketing & Awareness
It is important that the community in which you work is aware of what you do so that you can recruit more learners and volunteers and involve more schools and parents.
A few ideas that may help you to market your organisation are listed below:
- Design an eye catching logo that is not too text heavy – you could approach design students at universities and colleges or ask your learners to have a go at designing something.
- Use this logo in all your external communication so that people start to associate the logo with what you do
- Setup a Facebook group that is clearly named and invite your friends to join.
- The best way of marketing your organisation is in person so attempt to organise as many presentations, workshops, visits and Open Days as you can so that people become aware of what you do. You can write and practice a ‘pitch’ which includes all the needed information so that you don’t waffle.
Financial management is an integral part of your organisation’s growth and sustainability. A good financial system will vary from organisation to organisation depending on your specific programme and context. However, there are some fundamental aspects to a good financial system that apply across the board:
- A detailed budget prepared ahead of time
- A system of tracking expenditure against that budget
- A system for recording income and expenditure – record keeping/cashbook
- Regular monitoring and checks
A lot of spending is done with cash at the branches. This is the most common reason an organisation fails to get a successful audit. When an organisation deals with cash it is vulnerable to mistakes. IkamvaYouth has spent years developing a working cashbook that you may find useful if you are dealing with cash in your organisations.
You can find some tips on using the Cash Book in this short video.