An NGO’s performance is how well it contributes to other people’s efforts to improve their lives and societies.

NGOs can make a big contribution to people’s own efforts. But each NGO normally only has a small influence on long term social change. Other factors are normally more important, like government, politics, economic opportunities, friends and family, culture or even the weather. Ultimately, people make their own choices about their lives. NGOs aim to nurture and respect that autonomy, in what they do and how they do it.

This website argues that NGOs can achieve most by managing and measuring their own performance, rather than poor people’s long term social change.

The approach focuses on factors that are within NGOs’ control and reinforces respect for other people’s autonomy. It is about helping people help themselves.

It passes the acid test that it provides help to other people in the same way that most people – including those who work in NGOs – would like to receive help.

The approach is different to focusing on ‘impact’, defined as long term social change. This website argues that ‘impact’ is not a reliable guide for maximising NGOs’ results. Some comments about ‘impact’ are made in boxes on other pages.

The international humanitarian community needs a fundamental reorientation from supplying aid to supporting and facilitating communities’ own relief and recovery priorities.”  Tsunami Evaluation Coalition, Recommendation 1, 2006

… the success of development as a process depends on the role of people as agents rather than just as patients.”  Amartya Sen, 2000

Development agencies do not do development; at best they do development assistance.”  David Ellerman, 2005

…. to help does not mean to be a sovereign but to be a servant …”  Soren Kierkegaard, quoted in Ellerman 2005

13 Responses

  1. […] performance in a slightly different way. The blog offers a wide range of resources from redefining performance specifically for NGOs, to management tips, and a lengthy list of helpful references for those who […]

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