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Stop Starving Scale: Unlocking the Potential of Global NGOs

Stop Starving Scale: Unlocking the Potential of Global NGOs – by Jeri Eckhart Queenan, Jacob Allen, and Jari Tuomala, April 15, 2013

  • “Generous funders have fueled the spectacular growth of global NGOs in recent years. But the money comes with strings that thwart these organizations’ ability to create the platforms for scale needed to solve global problems.The Bridgespan Group’s interviews with more than two dozen global NGO leaders revealed both a shared desire to implement operational and systems changes that could make their organizations more effective and widespread consternation over how to pay for those changes. Fully 65 percent said strengthening their core functions to create platforms for scale remained a distant goal. For most, the biggest obstacle is funders’ tight-fisted approach to spending on “indirect costs” or overhead, encompassing everything from strategic planning and staff training to program evaluations and computer systems upgrades. And it’s pervasive. Seventy percent of NGO leaders surveyed by Bridgespan named “insufficient indirect cost recovery” from funders as one of their most pressing problems.
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