Few days ago, I was elected to lead a coalition containing more than 30 NGOs and 10s of individuals working towards promoting and sustaining civil peace in Lebanon. The coalition is called “Wahdatouna Khalasouna” which means “Our Unity is Our Salvation”. As the name highlights, the focus of the coalition is bring together a plethora of non-profits, experts, activists and academicians to work on issues that might hinder or threaten civil peace in Lebanon.
Our work as a coalition is to tackle the different themes that have an impact on civil peace including but not limited to: human equality, environment, armed conflicts, reconciliation and post-conflict peace building, youth employment and empower, women in leadership, media biases among others.
The coalition is more than 7 years old and I’ve been a proud member since its inception. Back then, my own NGO, Aie Serve, was operating for almost 3 years and we believed that as a youth organization we have a stake in this matter and wanted our voices to be heard. So from joining the coalition as an NGO representative all the way to becoming a member of the steering committee in the last round of elections to recently becoming the General Coordinator of the coalition. IT’s been an interesting journey and for sure I’ve learned a lot from the previous leadership of the coalition and will continue to ask for their guidance and support throughout the upcoming years.
So the journey starts this month in setting up the new strategy, framework and modus operandi for the future of the coalition and its projected impact on our society.
It’s been quite a long time since I wrote any posts on my blog, but there are certain things that can’t be kept silent for too long. This is a message of gratitude to an unsung hero.
I’d like you to meet Youssef Aziz,
a dear friend of mine, an activist, an a true unsung hero in several NGOs I’m engaged with.
This gentleman works behind the scenes, does double the effort than most, has the kindest of hearts and a brilliance that is rare to find.
Topping all of that, he is down to earth and a true believer in the values of the organizations he joins/founds/advises.
What triggered my post is the fact that this week…one of the dear NGOs to his heart, and mine, has been officially shut down. It wasn’t shut down by force or by external factors but by an unanimous Board decision, including Mr. Aziz. The choice was tough for all of us, but I know for a fact that it is by far the toughest on him than any of us.
In spite of all that, he’s been orchestrating the process, handing all the necessary documents and coordination to ensure a smooth and successful transitioning for the status of the organization.
But his efforts, input and value is not just about this NGO, but rather for the past 9 years I’ve known him in, he’s been the most trustworthy, consistent and resourceful individual in my volunteering experience.
So to you Youssef I want to say, your work shows when the organizations you’re involved in succeeds in whatever decisions it takes. To you I say, and bluntly, if it wasn’t for you, at least 4 NGOs that you and I know of/volunteer with/advised, wouldn’t have succeeded or existed. So what you’ve done, is setup the infrastructure for those NGOs to be built on, serve others and grow.
On my behalf, and undoubtedly on the behalf of many others, I say thank you for who you are, what you’ve done and what you continue to do day in day out.
Hello my dear reader,
I’ve successfully finished my Masters in Human Resources Management (MHRM) program at AUB. My focus was on Training and Development, thus I developed an NGO Leadership & Management Competency Model. It led to a tentative design of a training program that I will later develop to be offered to NGOs, possibly in partnership with some of the top universities in the region.
I did in-depth literature review on the topic of core competencies for Leadership & Management in NGOs in Lebanon and globally. Following the research, I organized 2 focus groups, bringing in the insights of experienced professionals in NGOs, Training and Development. Based on the findings, I published a survey to further verify the findings and have a wider input from a diverse background of individuals.
This mixed-methods research project resulted in a detailed analysis of competencies and training and development preferences for the target group. Here is a brief report of the findings: NGO Management Leadership Competency Model
Moreover, the above video is a 30min video of the defense I did on the project in front of the jury and here is the link of the article published on the Lebanese Development Network Website: LDN Article.
If you have any suggestions, questions or need any clarifications, don’t hesitate to let me know.
With the proliferation of NGOs in Lebanon and around the world, there is a growing need to empower their staff and volunteers with the needed skills, knowledge and abilities (KSAs) or what is also known as competencies to do their role properly.
In parallel to that, there are hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent annually on training workshops and courses for NGOs. Yet most of them happen without a structured approach to assess the actual needs and gaps to design the appropriate training/coaching/mentoring programs that best fit their situation.
The aim is to do this study with a multi-stakeholder approach that involves not just the NGOs but also the donor agencies, training providers and academicians.
As a result of the study, an NGO Management Competency Model will be developed. Based on that competency model, potential capacity building programs (training courses, workshops, mentoring programs and coaching sessions) will be designed to cater to the different needs of organizations and their staff and volunteers.
The above concept is not uncommon in certain industries and professions like Human Resources and Project Management professions, so a similar approach will be adopted for the aforementioned initiative.
Many times I get asked: What are NGOs? The answer is usually a bit more complex than you’d expect.
But before going into my own definition, let me share with you some definitions by some renowned sources. So here they are:
- “A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government.”- www.UN.org
- “A non-governmental organization (NGO) is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group which is organized on a local, national or international level.” – www.NGO.org
- “A nongovernment organization is an association which is based on the common interests of its members, individuals, or institutions has no governmental status or function, and is not created by a government, nor is its agenda set or implemented by a government.” – www.SIL.org
- “Private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development” – www.WorldBank.org
Now the problem is, none of the above is complete or accurate, here is why:
- The UN definition misses out that such organizations should have a cause for the benefit of the community and that they should be not for profit. According to UN definition, most private sector companies would fall under the category of “NGOs”, which is obviously incorrect.
- The NGO.org definition misses out that they should not be initiated, managed or has members of NGO bodies. Moreover, it limits the to “voluntary” work, while in reality there are thousands of NGOs that have paid staff.
- The SIL.org definition also misses out on the not for profit part, thus once again being an inadequate definition.
- The World Bank definition misses out on many factors. Their definition misses out on the fact that should not be initiated, managed or has members of NGOs, nor that they should be not for profit. Just to name a few that is.
In this context, after further research, discussions and meetings with stakeholders from NGOs, I’ve managed to identify the components that one can use as a checklist to check if the organization in study is an NGO or not. Here are the components or attributes if you’d like to call them so:
- Is a legal entity founded by natural or legal persons.
- Not initiated nor managed by any government.
- Doesn’t accept membership of governmental bodies.
- Works to fulfill community needs rather than profit, i.e. not for profit.
- Can be based on voluntary work, paid staff or both.
Using the above, I can assure you that you’d be able to clearly identify what is an NGO and what is not. You can put them in a definition as follows:
“An NGO is a legal entity founded by natural or legal persons that is not initiated nor managed by any government nor does it accept membership of governmental bodies. An NGO works to fulfill community needs rather than profit, i.e. not profit, and it can be based on voluntary work, paid staff or both.”
Thus, the following organizations are not, and should not, be considered as NGOs or labeled as such: UNDP, ESCWA, UNESCO, ILO, OPEC, FAO, Arab League.
I hope that clarifies the issue for you and I look forward to hear your feedback on the definition.
Considering the sheer number of questions and consultations I get regularly about NGOs, their types, fields of work, definitions, structures, proposal writing, fundraising and the like, I will be posting a series of articles about NGOs to cover such topics.
Here is a quick overview about some of the articles I’ll be posting:
• Defining NGOs
• Types of NGOs (by geographic scope)
• Fields of Work of NGOs (by industry)
• Functional Types of NGOs (internal structure)
• Project Management in NGOs (how it differs from those in private and public sectors)
• Fundraising in NGOs
• Proposal Writing in NGOs (how it differs depending on the donor/funding agency)
• Logical Framework Approach/Matrix (what it is, how it came into existence, when is it to be used)
If you’d like to know about other topics related to NGOs don’t hesitate to drop me a comment about it.