Population and Community Development Association

NGO Sustainability

     PDA has always been very conscious of the need for NGOs not to solely rely on traditional sources of funding. The founder of PDA used an initial loan to start up a business back in 1975, which has now grown into sixteen different companies (legally separate entities from PDA) offering services ranging from industrial health services to resorts and restaurants. Apart from reserves and business expansion, the profits from the companies can only be used for PDA in three instances: first, when donor funds are inadequate; second, for the expansion of existing programs; and third, for launching new activities. In years with adequate donor support, the funds are used mostly for equipment, real estate, and other items; in leaner years, these funds have contributed up to 70% of the needed financial resources to maintain PDA’s ongoing activities. Through its international training arm, PDA has shared these skills with other NGOs in Asia; this concept was written up as a UNAIDS Best Practice in the late 1990s.

The Need For NGO Financial Sustainability

     Despite the vast differences among many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), most share the common dilemma of lacking sufficient funds. This financial deficiency limits the quantity and/or quality of important work that they can realistically carry out. PDI has developed alternative sources of revenue to donor support that have had a profound impact on our freedom to operate. For example, PDA (PDI's implementing NGO in Thailand) has established 14 for-profit companies to generate funds for social development work, the most successful of which are the Cabbages & Condoms Restaurants. Based on the success of these enterprises, PDA teaches other NGOs how to build sustainable solutions that free them from dependency on insufficient and uncertain sources of funding. The goals of the course are to increase participants’ understanding of the need for NGOs to become - and stay – self-reliant through business activities and to enhance participants’ skills in developing, implementing, and managing entrepreneurial activities appropriate for NGOs.

     The NGO Financial Sustainability program is designed to support NGOs in Southeast Asia to improve their long term financial sustainability by engaging in profitable business activities.

     The core of the program is a two-week course designed to teach NGOs the fundamentals of starting and operating a business and to develop and receive feedback on a business concept and plan. NGOs participating in this training will, two weeks after the course, submit a business plan to PDI for funding consideration. Ideally, NGOs will also be linked with a “mentor” who can assist them in the start up and initial running of their new business.

The two week course will focus on the follow themes:

1. Economics, Accessibility of Donated Funds, and the Need for a New Model
2. New Way of Operating a NGO - Running a Business
3. Business Development Skills – Business Plan Components
4. Concepts into Practice

     The training will be participatory in approach with numerous opportunities for participants to apply the concepts that they are learning to their business concept. Participants will be expected to present their business idea to various different groups throughout the training and will be provided with feedback. On the last day of training participants will do a 20 minute presentation of their business plan to a mock investment panel.