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The perils of working in the NGO sector
The not-for-profit sector in India is driven by visionaries and philanthropists who foresee a better community by solving problems that our society is plagued with.

However, it has its own share of challenges; an important one being human resources. An NGO needs a dedicated workforce to manage innumerable tasks, leverage resources and build a friendly relationship with the recipients and donors. It faces various hurdles with the management of the HR function.

People have ingrained belief in working for corporate and government organizations with stable, secure and well-paid jobs. People in non-metro towns do not have enough corporate job options. For them, to choose a career in the social sector itself is a big step. There is a sense of insecurity with the job and salary when working at an NGO.

Also, they wonder if they will be in-line with society's idiosyncrasy while working with HIV infected people or the disabled. It is difficult to change this mindset. Our government should pitch in with efforts to educate both, people at the grass-roots level and the leaders behind the NGOs, to adopt practical thought processes.

One would rarely find an exclusive HR department in an NGO. Neither does the founding committee allocate enough funds nor do they put in the required efforts on developing an HR team. The other employees lack organizational efficiency. Hiring is a time consuming process. It requires patience to sort applications and interview candidates. Also, young people join in to get NGO experience and leave with certificates. Some non-profits themselves term it as a good time to fill the gap in their summer leave. They must hire full time candidates. They have more time to imbibe the culture, adapt to the requirements and work productively. It would be wise to retain interns and those working on a project basis.

NGOs at grass-roots level are unable to manage funds and cash flow. They constantly need money and resources by funding which need to be utilized appropriately. Wages ought to be paid on time. They often have long working hours including outstation travel and stay. Employees work on different domains and across departments. NGOs must hire people who are self-motivated and willing to work out of their comfort zone; people who are able to strive for a goodwill cause.

Most NGOs lack proper facilities which makes it more difficult to attract quality talent and volunteers. Scarcity of water, fluctuating electricity and unkempt surroundings make for a bad work environment. There should be regulations on facilities and support for employees. It is crucial for NGOs to maintain hygiene and keep their employees motivated by ensuring access to these basic needs.

Non-profit trusts and organizations tend to give too much attention to raising funds instead of solving problems. There is a lack of communication to the lowest grade staff in the organizational structure, making them feel left out and lose trust. NGOs must keep everyone aligned to their vision and mission. Keeping governance systems in check would ensure everyone is on the same page and work in unison.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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