During the NGO's Forum that took place on October 28, 2016 (more about the event on the previous article http://mcb-institute.org/component/content/article/36-primaria/159-ngos-forum) , Multicultural Business Institute proposed as topic for its roundtable debate the need for an NGO’s school, so that NGOs become professional organizations that take over from companies management strategies and function under their criteria for performance, adapted permanently to each NGO’s profile. In this regard, participants were invited to come up with their own ideas on the organization and functioning of such a school.
The discussion table was attended, among others, by
- Mihaela RUS – President of Vitrina Advertising, and Asociația Femeilor de Afaceri din Cluj (Cluj Businesswomen Association);
- Lucia MORARIU - President and general director Eximtur;
- Iosif POP - President of the Local Civic Council of Cluj-Napoca;
- Raluca BREHAR - Cluj Innovation Park, Asociația Europeană pentru Siguranță și Antidrog (European Association for Safety and Anti-drug);
- Attila KIRALY - president of Clujul văzut Altfel and Cluj.com;
- Cristina RIGMAN – Executive director ProVobis - National Resource Centre for Volunteering;
- Dan BACIU, founder Transylvania College, Romanian Health Association, the Center for Elderly Care
I. Socio-economic context
The main stakeholders currently operating in the social environment, who have undertaken tasks on solving community needs while achieving general and specific progress of the whole society, are the following types of organizations:
1) Public institutions, officially established and mandated to provide and manage the collective good, but succeed only to a certain extent (for a variety of reasons well known to most);
2) Community organizations (NGOs), born exactly out of the crisis left by public institutions, in those social segments where they (public institutions) do not manage their tasks successfully. NGOs are striving to achieve this thing (in counterweight and / or in parallel with the institutions), where possible, through volunteers who act from/on their own conscience, assuming the task, sometimes titanic for their ability, to solve those problems that state institutions through state budgeted personnel, do not fulfil effectively or sometimes at all. In doing so, NGOs and their staff have the following advantages:
a. Strong civic conscience;
b. Vocational involvement;
c. Involvement based on criteria of personal passion;
d. Missionary spirit (the desire to contribute to a noble cause);
e. The desire to give a higher meaning to his own self/his own identity (obtained through involving oneself to the good of others, through an altruistic attitude);
f. The desire for personal and/or spiritual evolution by cultivating virtues in a practical way: self-sacrifice, a sense of charity, selflessness, compassion, dedication etc.- behaviours and attitudes which are defining and implicit for volunteering.
3) Business organizations – also called for help, where the first two categories of organizations fail to face: 1. public institutions because of hyper-bureaucratization, systemic corruption, mismanagement of resources, extra-politicization, decrease of meritocratic spirit, promotion of nepotism/cronyism and incompetence among employees (etc.) and 2. NGOs which, despite the best intentions and through their staff they put the whole soul at the foundation of their mission to meet in an adapted way the needs of society left uncovered, however they lack the main tool of work in this regard, owned by corporate environment: the set of knowledge, professional skills, people, experience; the knowledge and expertise to handle the resources in the most efficient, adapted and sustainable way in order to achieve the settled objectives and the lasting solving of needs.
For these reasons, the corporate environment was stimulated (sometimes forced sometimes absorbed) to engage either by allocating resources to NGOs (sponsoring, funding, grants etc.), or by creating their own tools (e.g.: CSR platforms) through which to intervene directly, avoiding the NGO environment due to the lack of high standards expertise required by professional, efficient management of resource and problems, standard at which corporate environment is motivated / encouraged / willing to cooperate.
But for companies, for the entire corporate environment, this direct involvement is a distraction from their purpose and main activity, with an additional expense often uncovered and a rate also not satisfactory enough of the settlement of community needs (unsatisfactory both for companies and beneficiaries), determined by the specific profile of the business organization. Its main purpose and founding mission is to produce profits for owners, creating / producing / distributing goods and services, not to solve social needs.
On the other hand, the mere allocation of resources through NGOs to the community, again, does not really solve the problems sustainably and efficiently. Due to the fact that the NGOs work with fewer specialists (and more with simple volunteers) and are not designed to be organizations that offer specialized services, they are mostly mere transporters/handlers of resources (money, goods, services, technologies, treatments etc.) from the ones that produce them (companies or individuals) to the ones that require them. It is as if someone gave a hungry man a fish to temporarily ease the hunger: should he do this repeatedly instead of teaching him how to fish on his own and become self-reliant, the hungry man will become addicted to the assistance he is given.
Therefore, in order to fulfil their role as agents of social progress, it is necessary for the current community organizations (NGOs) to convert themselves from suppliers of companies’ resources to the community into partners towards the multiplication of these resources (to recall the parable of the talents that underlies the ethics and the entire organizational culture of corporate environment) so that they can offer people strength/empowerment and self-sustainability and to be able to cover the needs of a broader range of social categories in their (i.e. NGOs’) field of activity.
In this context, a much more viable and rewarding solution for all stakeholders (business organizations, NGOs and community environment) is to focus not on reforming public institutions (as initially thought, but was found in decades that the method does not work) but on NGOs as organizations founded, as well, to cover social needs and cumulatively with the nobility of their basic mission and virtues previously presented, to help them operate at a level of competence, expertise and mastery comparable to that held by the corporate environment.
In other words, in Multicultural Business Institute’s vision, there is the need for professionalizing the NGOs in Romania.
This implies that the NGOs learn to design, organize themselves and function according to the criteria and performance standards of the companies in order to be able to attract the best resources: human (professionals), financial, technological etc. to become profitable, self-sustainable and to fulfil their mission successfully. Once reorganized, they can decide whether to professionalize their current personnel having as mentors experts with similar positions from companies in their line of work (marketing, public relations, human resources, project management, finance etc.) or to recruit new specialist members.
Therefore Multicultural Business Institute proposes nothing more or less than simply sending NGOs to "school", to help them get out of adolescence and, through professional qualification, to become mature organizations, with the highest level of competence and mastery in their fields.
A part of the framework ideas of such an organizational structure – NGOs’ School / Academy - as well as a list of incentives / benefits for each of the three parties (Companies, NGOs, individuals involved / active in these organizations) we invite you to consult in the following pages.
The list is open and is a work suggestion; therefore we also address you the request to complete/develop it together, so as to create the most efficient and appropriate solution.
II. Possible model for organizing the NGOs’ School / Academy
The concept of NGOs’ School/Academy stands for a private organization that takes on the role of a meeting place between NGOs and the companies in order to express their specific needs, identify common interests and demands and build bridges of cooperation. The term “school/academy” conveys the educational character of the proposed organization. Like a school, it is intended to host personalized activities to optimally transmit know-how from companies to NGOs according to the particular needs of the two community stakeholders. The trainees are the NGOs that wish to learn to redesign themselves and become professional, and the trainers are the managers and specialists of the business organizations.
The redesigned NGOs as professional organizations with respect to their mission will be able to make the following decisions concerning their personnel through their founders and designated managers:
- to hire/recruit specialists and/or
- to send the current staff to training programs held by the School
- to educate the young starting from their school years (through professional volunteer practice in NGOs and attending classes held by the School/Academy that they will be sent to) in order to become future professionals in the NGOs they will take part in (the ones that deal, through their policies, with youth qualification)
The Multicultural Business Institute’s vision is that the school should have an administrative team and possess the following organizational and functioning characteristics:
- It takes over the particular needs of every NGO, according to its demands or to the analysis conducted by the team to identify liabilities (in preparing the personnel, in the organizational design, used strategies and so on). This is done in a way that suits the NGO’s field of activity and seeks to maximize the fructification possibilities of resources received according to that field of activity.
- Prepares, similar to a restaurant chef, recipes for success adjusted to the needs of every NGO client/student using a wide range of ingredients (the professionals from various companies) offered by suppliers - the participating companies.
- The educational process of the NGO consists of:
- Knowledge transfer sessions through various means: workshops, printed or filmed material, books etc.
- Expertise transfer through the practical activity the people in the NGOs with needs of professionalization in various domains (marketing, PR, branding, finance, strategic or project management etc.) perform along with the company specialists as tutors in the School;
- Mentorship – the assistance offered by the mentoring companies (through it professionals) to a respective NGO up until it is proven that the knowledge acquired by the mentee is assimilated thoroughly;
One or more companies that choose to work together will teach one or more NGOs, through concrete practice (such as coaching/mentorship workshops) how to increase their professionalism. The relationship between the companies and the NGOs can be compared to the one between companies and individuals: the companies invest in the qualification of the young with potential by paying their studies and taking them into practice hiring them to become specialists as future employees or to just produce valuable services/goods on their own.
- Knowledge and skills transferred by the company to the NGOs remain in the NGOs legacy/heritage, favouring the increase of its “market share”. Therefore, the organization acquires a brand (through certificates, for instance) that certifies its expertise and capacity to efficiently manage resources and will have priority and credibility to display for future investors.
- The NGO staffs (employees, volunteers etc.) that have attended the qualification/perfecting sessions receive certificates issued by the NGO and certified by the companies and their experts involved in the respective sessions. Certificates shall remain in the record of the NGO’s members indefinitely and shall be recognized in both the NGOs and public institutions market (according to the legislation of professional seniority acknowledgement through volunteering) and the firms market.
III. Participant benefits
A. For the companies
- More prolific solutions upon the causes of their problems (better proficiency of the NGOs in processing the resources received from the companies and of deducting results from them ) and coverage for a wider range of issues (enhanced efficacy in harnessing the resources allocated by firms);
- The opportunity to form a network of professional organizations through which the resources (goods, services, money, people, knowledge, expertise, etc.) intended to be transferred to the community be fully fructified and with a guarantee. The relationship between the companies and the NGOs is similar to the one between companies and the students they support through college and later hire them or finance them to produce valuable goods/services on their own Thus, the School/Academy facilitates the formation of mentoring relationships between firms and NGOs, which can be further derived into relationships based on trust and permanent cooperation;
- The direct consolidation of companies’ image, impact and value in the community which can be capitalized in publicity, CSR campaigns, marketing policies etc.;
- Identifying means of motivating their employees by their direct involvement as volunteers in the School’s activity and in the professionalized NGOs’. Employees will feel useful by contributing with their expertise and abilities in resolving community issues that cover their domains of passion/interest;
- The possibility of recruiting new specialists from the mentored NGOs;
- Achieving the reputation of direct educators for the agents of transformation of society, which are the proactive people and NGOs as teams that attract and stimulate these people;
- The possibility to reach a high number of stakeholders;
- The possibility of including (at request) other elements in the mentored NGOs programs (actions, events, achievement or development strategies, studies or trends, ways of disseminating the results in the community, professionals and personalities etc.), elements that could be of interest for the financer’s organizational and social image or for his economic interests;
- The possibility to include/take over some of the mentored NGOs’ activities (projects, programs, services, campaigns, events, etc.) in the CSR campaigns of the mentoring organizations;
B. For the NGOs
- The opportunity to become professional organizations specialized in resolving at the highest standards those needs of the community for which they were founded;
- The possibility of attracting and keeping professionals as motivated and passionate volunteers;
- The opportunity to build long lasting networks and partnerships with people and organizations from the business, the academic, institutional etc. environment, with specialists from various fields that are necessary to the growth of every NGOs activity;
- Earning a name/official status of a professional organization for the future investors – similar to other domains where brands or labels are used for value differentiation: like the food products marked with “traditional product” or “ecologic/bio product” labels;
- The enhancement of the ability to attract superior resources necessary for the fulfilment of their programs and missions;
- The consolidation of their credibility in order to attract high value people who wish to voluntarily contribute to the solving of community’s problems..
- For the people in the community in search for opportunities of personal and professional development, that are aware and motivated to become proactive in really solving the diverse social needs will benefit from:
- Professional experience and seniority acquired in his/her activity spent in the NGOs;
- Practicing qualified skills/activities from fields of their interest ;
- Professionalization on voluntary basis at the work/practice place in the NGOs:
- The possibility, for specialists or volunteers specializing in the NGOs (through the School’s practice and courses), of being hired by the professional NGOs;
- The possibility for the volunteers to promote themselves to professionals and business organizations, state institutions in the areas they want to specialize.
The companies’ employees willing to contribute to the satisfaction of society’s needs will find in the professional NGO’s genuine environments of social transformation in which their contribution of knowledge, competences, abilities, expertise, passion will be fructified and multiplied exponentially; therefore, they will desire to involve by occupying voluntary positions.