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Partnering Smoothly with the Government



69. During some of the recent massive disaster relief operations, friction has developed between experienced expatriate humanitarian NGOs and local government relief coordinators. International NGOs would do well to try to show the appropriate level of respect to the local authorities even if they are critical of their performance.

Center for Development of Non-Profit Sector (Serbia)*
Forum of Yugoslav NGOs’ model law on NGOs (in English)

Survey of NGO Legislation in Countries of the Baltic Sea*
(Also covers Germany, Poland, Russia and Nordic Countries)

Pakistan Center for Philanthropy Download Library*
Extensive full-text laws and rules, sample policies, studies and a directory of certified NGOs from a developing country perspective

The Compact Website (UK)*
Social contracting between the UK government and the voluntary and community sector in England, including a standard set of core Compact commitments and an accreditation scheme for Businesses and Nonprofits*
US government official web portal to most departments and agencies partnering with civil society

Pakistan Center for Philanthropy*
NGO Certification Model, includes detailed criteria for evaluation and process flow charts for Pakistan nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations

Philippine Council for NGO Certification’s Primer & Steps*

ACCION International, nonprofit for microfinance promotion*
Support for networks of NGO microfinance institutions, with a fund that also invests in commercial transformations into regulated financial institutions (i.e., banks)

The Sphere Project (consortium of humanitarian NGOs and the Red Cross/Crescent movement)*
Handbook on Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response

Sampradaan—Indian Centre for Philanthropy (SICP) Online Reports*
Portal to free Indian conference proceedings on subjects including making partnerships work, NGO-donor dialog and new leadership

70. In many developing countries the governments frequently see themselves as competitors with NGOs for receiving overseas development assistance from donor countries.

71. In the People’s Republic of China, there has developed an interesting model for other countries and NGOs. When the state wants to attract private donations for public purposes, it will set up a foundation and pay all of the salaries and overheads, leaving 100% of the public donations to be directly spent on the programs.

72. Remember to watch out that your NGO does not get into too much of a business operation and breach its public benefit status or lose tax privileges as a non-profit. This depends mainly on how you are set up and the form of the local tax breaks you enjoy.

73. Ways NGOs can find out about government opportunities and start to compete for state money and contracts. Check first with your governments and, if they have them, small business or entrepreneurial agencies to see if they offer help in how to bid and get qualified to tender for government projects.

74. Another useful way to get exposure to the government departments that may be judging the tenders could be through first being invited into policymaking procedures through comments from the public or giving evidence before hearings. The NGO establishes its expertise in certain areas and begins to win the confidence of government bureaucrats.

75. By their very nature as one-sided gifts, there remains a risk that a promised donation or grant may not be honored as expected. Even after a public pledge has been made there is still some doubt unless the grant is turned into a contractual promise. Therefore, NGOs should be prudent in making financial commitments on the expectation of grant funding.

76. Writing good grant fund proposals is now becoming an integral part of every NGO’s repertoire. Make sure some of your staff attend any free training programs being offered to help them prepare better proposals with a chance of being accepted.

77. The law and practice concerning the tax status of not-for-profit foundations and charities, is extremely complicated. Many companies or family estates also structure themselves in similar positions to take advantage of the tax exemptions of these non-profitmaking entities.

78. Umbrella organizations that certify the validity and good faith of NPOs and their operations are another effective way to convince tax authorities of the legitimacy of an NPO and that it is not being used as an unproductive or illegal tax shelter.

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The views expressed in this book are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank Institute nor the Asian Development Bank. Names of countries or economies mentioned are chosen by the authors, in the exercise of his/her/their academic freedom, and the Institute is in no way responsible for such usage.

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There are [2] comment(s) for this entry. Post a comment.

  1. Eric
    (posted 31 December 2009 / 02:29:09 AM)

    I think the main problem with NGOs is trying to chastise them from over-exposing themselves into areas of self promotion. I also think this is a real and overly prevalent issue which needs to be looked at as it sullies the waters for organisations which look to actually deal with issues of community development.

    I understand the irony of posting here whilst supporting an NGO but what needs to be said, for the people who are meant to be helped by these NGOs, should be said openly and in front of everyone who would take away someone's quality of life for a quick non-profit buck.

    I dont know the solution but I do perceive of the problem and hear about it all too often from people who have mixed with the wrong organisation. It's time to all grow up and deal with important matters in important ways.
  2. Susan B. Somers
    (posted 25 April 2008 / 09:57:15 AM)

    Governance of NGOs can be as difficult as getting governments to change policy in human rights areas, however, good governance is essential if we are to accomplish our goals. It has been somewhat troubling to me that there has not been more support for NGOs over the years in this area. Therefore, when I first "discovered" this valuable resource, found it to be incredibly useful and that it was free to all, I could not have been more pleased.
    Now we have to spread the word that help is near. Thank you for your foresight and concern that we in the world of NGOs don't always have the luxury of experience in this area. This will make a difference.

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