Seechurn Sandya: How should a national NGO implement good governance at all levels of operation?

Seechurn Sandya: How should a national NGO implement good governance at all levels of operation?

Non – Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are organizations that are neither a part of a government nor a conventional for-profit business. NGOs are set up by ordinary citizens and may be funded by governments, foundations, businesses, or private persons.  Good governance is very important in an NGO because the latter is accountable to the community.   Since they benefit directly or indirectly from public support, NGOs are expected to demonstrate a high degree of accountability to their surrounding community.  This community includes members, beneficiaries, donors, the government, and other stakeholders or constituencies. As such to good governance here becomes the steer that can guide NGOs towards social accountability.

The eight principles of good governance are : accountability, transparency, responsive,  equitable and inclusive, effective , efficient and participatory.  These eight principles are the base of good governance whereby any NGO who follow them shall not only perform better and at the same time be a better-managed organization but also get the trust of the different stakeholders.

According to the World Bank, Good governance has to have three aspects:

First, the form of political regime;

Second the process by which authority is exercised in the management of a country’s social and economic resources for development.

Third, the capacity of the government to design, formulate and implement policies and discharge functions.

Generally, all NGOs have a “basic document” as required by law, that is, the act of incorporation, statute, etc.  This document explicitly designs the name of the governing bodies, their roles and responsibilities within the organization.  It also states how an NGO function, i.e., the board and the distribution of decision making powers.  This is the governance structure of NGOs in Mauritius generally.  Now in order to bring in good governance, the whole structure has a crucial role to play.  Since the board members are the pillars of an NGO structure, they are the ones who are going to implement that aspect of good governance.

Firstly, we have a board which is the principle governing body and also takes decisions.  For a better governance the board members should proceed towards having collective decision making that will represent the interest of all stakeholders while still being focused on their mission.  In other words involve all the responsible parties in order to understand the needs of the organization.  These collective decision making processes have a practical benefit also.  The involvement of all members brings more breadth of perspective and depth thereby surpassing the abilities of a single leader.  This also brings up much transparency in the work and role of the board.

Secondly, when a board governs, it generally has staffs that manage.  The division of duties between board and staff often leaves a gap between them and affects the effectiveness of the whole process from decision making to implementing.  But for a better governance to be in action it is crucial that the board must involve and participate in the implementation task thus eliminating the gap that hinders the board from fully understanding the needs and requirements of the organization and thus become more responsive.  This also encourages all the parties involved to be more confident and the end result be better decision making.

Taking in account the impact that good governance, it is easy to understand that the latter is beneficial for all, be it the stakeholders, the society or the government.  Good governance can improve the transparency of NGOs, involve participation, be more responsive, responsible and be effective and efficient and have more social accountability.  This will generate trust of one and all.

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Registered in February 2015, YUVA started as a group of enthusiastic individuals, and today it has mobilised thousands of young people with a simple aim of creating a better future for children and youth of Mauritius. At the heart of YUVA’s duty lies the conviction that the collective destinies of the human race are bound together.

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