Article by Swetha Anusha Goteti and Smita Suchde Grütter
A business of any kind, any field, or from any place is always conceived from an idea. An idea that has a purpose to help others and to provide a solution.
Non-governmental organizations or NGOs are no different. If studied closely, both, corporates and NGOs, share similar fundamentals. Both are born out of a longing for or the lack of a better solution to otherwise ignored problems or populations.
Let us examine NGOs and Corporates on the principles of risk, funding, vision, resilience and customer feedback – the key success factors for any good business.
RISK: While corporates receive capital for growth and go on to earn profits, NGOs find it harder to get noticed and receive funding. Corporates can take risks on new products and experiment on innovations but the same for an NGO would be taboo. Innovating in philanthropy, regardless of the similarities, would seemingly be a huge risk and not viewed kindly.
FUNDING: Interestingly, Corporate are usually funded faster than a Non-profit organisation, even though the non-profit works solely for the interest of society. Is it because the non-profit world is static and needs to learn to innovate? Or is it perhaps that the non-profit needs to be bolder and a risk-taker and believe that “its product” is also catering to a need of the market?
Resilience: In 1839, the first known NGO, Anti-Slavery Society, was founded. As the name suggests, it was started to fight against the then deadly practice of slaves and ill-treatment of black people. A lot of first-generation NGOs are of similar type – addressing the immediate issue. But, in our present era, there is a growing need to develop organizations that can be sustained in the long run. Just as a corporate company focuses on creating its existence for generations to come, NGOs also need to focus on the issues that encourage people’s abilities and mould accordingly to ever-changing context.
Vision: For a great company to thrive, it has to have a bank of resources, talent, and strong leadership. These all make up the strength of a company. Likewise, an organization with a humane cause must possess the strength equal to a potent company in order to pierce through people’s conviction. Kodak made waves in the photography industry with brilliant inventions during its reign that included inexpensive cameras and development of films without the need of dark rooms. However, its collapse followed as soon as film photography went digital. Why? Because, it was unable to adapt its business model to the digital space. Kodak’s example rings true for an NGO if it as well fails to comprehend the dynamics of the playing field.
Customer Feedback: The downfall of any organization commences when it ceases to listen. Without a strong framework, best practices, process evaluation and customer happiness, companies cannot survive the test of time. On the other hand, NGOs as well, are required to design consistent programs with a regular feedback system both from the people they support and those who provide funds to the NGO, its donors. Implementing a model to collect the data and research creates a much more sustainable impact on the cause and providing evident-based impact, can allow NGOs to gain momentum rapidly.
At HEMLATA, we deliberately include these pillars of the corporate world and ingest them into each stem of our mission application. Our team of diligent and compassionate volunteers, our concentration and focussed approach, and our adaptability to change, to be able to tweak the program as me move forward, allow us to function like a start-up, albeit in the social sector.
Because whether we work in philanthropy, or in busines, a better tomorrow is only possible through social innovation that provides solutions for the betterment of society.