Consider Avoiding Grant Writing

We also encountered several NGOs that had made a conscious policy decision to avoid the “grant writing game,” raise whatever funds they could from Cameroonian sources, and concentrate on projects and goals, such as environmental education or tree planting, that did not require large budgets or technical expertise. For some NGOs, especially those unwilling to contemplate merging with other NGOs or undertaking joint projects, this might be a more productive strategy than continuing to write numerous proposals to foreign funders that are unlikely to succeed.


Having a clear, appropriate, and coherent set of goals can contribute both to NGO effectiveness and efficiency and to making the NGO attractive to potential supporters and donors. We therefore recommend that environmental NGOs consider the following suggestions.

Limit the Number and Diversity of Goals

Environmental NGOs should endeavor to develop a clear vision and concentrate on a relatively small number of closely related goals. We encountered some NGOs that combined environmental goals with other objectives such as fighting poverty, improving agricultural practice, enhancing human health, or promoting gender equality. In some situations, such combinations can result in genuine synergy and increased effectiveness. Nevertheless, environmental NGOs need to ensure that they have the resources and expertise to realistically address all of the goals they adopt. In particular, they should avoid adopting new goals not closely related to their old ones merely because they are in line with the latest trend or because there might be financial support for NGOs pursuing them. In the long run, efforts to juggle more goals than the available resources can support may yield poor results and a diminished reputation. Moreover, overly frequent goal changes can undermine an NGO’s credibility and its opportunity to build human capital and efficiency in a specific domain. Sticking to a few specific goals and activities over a reasonable period is more likely to build a reputation, especially for low- visibility Type II NGOs. By developing expertise and experience in working with particular environmental problems, NGOs can attract attention and respect from international NGOs and development agencies, bringing them projects, consultancies, and grants that can lead to growth and more visibility.

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