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Organizational sustainability

Sustainable NGOs have the ability to survive over a long period of time. They have a good standard of organizational performance, financial viability and capacity.

Their focus is on maintaining this standard in a changing world with new demands coming from stakeholders and the general public.


In order to become sustainable a NGO has to:

  • Achieve social and environment program goals efficiently and effectively
  • Achieve economical goals of its own business venture (social enterprise) efficiently and effectively
  • Be efficient and effective in administrative functions
  • Take account of the impacts of programs on those that are not the target beneficiaries
  • Take account of the impact of non-program activities on the society
  • Take account of the impact of whatever the NGO does on its employees


The NGO related literature focuses on three dimensions of organizational sustainability:

  • Financial Sustainability
  • Programmatic sustainability
  • Institutional capacity (good standard of governance, management knowledge and skills)


Guide to further reading (available online)

J. Pfeffer, Building Sustainable Organizations: The Human Factor, at: http://gsbapps.stanford.edu/researchpapers/library/RP2017R.pdf

Partnership for Health Reform, Making Health-Sector Non-Governmental Organizations More Sustainable: A Review of NGO and Donor Efforts, at: http://www.ngoconnect.net/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=36853&folderId=43595&name=DLFE-3647.pdf

USAID, The 2005 Moscat Assessment of NSDP NGOs, at: http://www.usaid.gov/bd/files/nsdp_mocat.pdf

USAID, Fundamentals of NGO Financial Sustainability, at: http://www.pathfind.org/site/DocServer/Fundamentals_of_NGO_Financial_Sustainability.pdf?docID=12001





Building sustainability into your NGO, at: http://www.networklearning.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=135:building-sustainability-into-your-ngo&catid=21:management&Itemid=145


D. Doane & A.MacGillivray; Economic Sustainability: The business of staying in business, at: http://projectsigma.co.uk/RnDStreams/RD_economic_sustain.pdf


M. K. Linnenluecke, A. Griffiths, Corporate sustainability and organizational culture, at: http://wsa.www.uq.edu.au/smart/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Corporate-sustainability-and-organizational-culture-Linnenluecke-and-Griffiths-2010.pdf

USAID, The 2009 NGO Sustainability Index  for Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia, at: http://www.usaid.gov/locations/europe_eurasia/dem_gov/ngoindex/2009/complete_document.pdf


USAID, Fundamentals of NGO Financial Sustainability, at: http://www.pathfind.org/site/DocServer/Fundamentals_of_NGO_Financial_Sustainability.pdf?docID=12001


Wikipedia, Sustainability, at, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability, accessed on 9.1.2012

Wikipedia, Organization, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organization, accessed on 11.1.2012