The boards that govern Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who
deliver social services face a range of complex challenges. They must
secure sustainable funding, comply with changes in the law and manage
the increasing demand for their services and the increasing complexity of
the people and communities they serve.
Strategizing and planning are much needed functions for these NGOs in a
context where government policy, funding and client needs are constantly
changing. The responsibility for strategy is generally considered to lie with
the governing body.
This research sought to understand how the boards of social service NGOs
approached their governance role, and in particular, their approach to
In-depth qualitative interviews with 36 Board members and Chief
Executives were completed, drawing from 12 different NGO social service
providers. The results were then reviewed by NGO leaders, academics and
governance experts in order to ‘sense-test’ the findings and draw
implications and recommendations.
The research found that for smaller NGOs attracting skilled board members
is a challenge. For some of these organisations, the governing body
operates like a ‘management committee’, who works to support the Chief
Executive, fundraise and may even help in the delivery of services. For
these organisations, the strategy and planning functions associated with
governance may not occur.
Constitutional structures, such as elected and representative structures,
may also create a barrier for many NGOs to getting an effective governing
board with the necessary mix of skills and experience.
Given the importance of NGOs, and the need for them to navigate their
future in a complex environment, the research discusses a range of
implications of the findings. There are implications for the funders of these
NGOs in how they structure their funding and invest in NGO governance
capability; for the NGO sector in terms of the understanding of and value
placed on the governance function; and for the governance community to
promote the value of and continue to contribute to NGO governance,
especially of smaller NGOs.
- Citation: Cribb. J, (2017) Governing for Good: The Governance Capability of Social Service NGOs, Wellington, New Zealand
- Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives CC BY-NC-ND
- Creator: Jo Cribb
- Language: English
- Publisher: www.jocribb.co.nz
- Year: 2017-10-20
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