Is social sector equipped to build sustainable organisations

The Bridgespan Group surveyed approximately 250 leaders from Indian NGOs and the Indian offices of international NGOs, to look into NGOs’ efforts to strengthen their leaders’ skill sets and build their leadership bench

Pritha Venkatachalam is a partner with The Bridgespan Group in Mumbai and co-author of the report, Building the Bench at Indian NGOs. Danielle Berfond is a Bridgespan Group manager and co-author of the same report

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

Exceptional NGOs rely on exceptional leaders. In the Indian social sector, a senior team’s competence is often the make-or-break factor in an organisation’s ability to make strides toward such ambitious goals as providing equitable healthcare, ensuring high quality education for children, or providing access to safe water and basic sanitation. Yet widespread doubts persist about whether there is sufficient investment in NGO leadership teams to achieve these important outcomes.

Against this backdrop, The Bridgespan Group, with support from Omidyar Network, undertook what we believe is the first data-driven study of NGO leadership development in India: “Building the Bench at India NGOs: Investing to Fill the Leadership Development Gap.”
Surveying approximately 250 leaders from Indian NGOs and the Indian offices of international NGOs, the study looked into NGOs’ efforts to strengthen their leaders’ skill sets and build their leadership bench. This is the second in a series of key findings:

Missing: The ability to build lasting organisations
Leadership teams are most lacking in the competencies necessary to build sustainable organisations

part2

NGOs perceive their leadership teams to be strong in such areas as building trust and collaborating, problem solving, and communication and listening. However, they rated their leaders as most lacking in such competencies as change management, business and operations expertise, developing leadership talent, and strategic thinking and planning—skills essential for creating high-impact, sustainable organisations.

“There are a lot of NGOs who are doing good work, but the leadership is not sustainable,” says Dr. Vandana Nadig Nair, founder of Phicus Social Solutions, which aims to strengthen social sector leaders. “The ability to build organisations, not programs, is missing.”

This is the second chart of a 10-part series from The Bridgespan Group. Read the introductory post here. Watch this space for a new chart of their survey findings every Friday. Click here to view the first chart of the series

Pritha Venkatachalam is a partner with The Bridgespan Group in Mumbai and co-author of the report, 'Building the Bench at Indian NGOs'. Danielle Berfond is a Bridgespan Group manager and co-author of the same report.

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