Published on March 3, 2014
How NGOs can write General Project Reports Before you start writing any report, you mustFeel good: This is the first and foremost factor as soon as you are entrusted with the task of writing a report. Do not assess your work less important than other people who are involved in core implementation. Realize that it’s a huge responsibility and all the work or the field activities will get reflected in your report. Understand that the presentation of the work is as important as the work itself. You cannot make everyone come and see your work. It’s the reports or documentation that gives you an opportunity to share your work with the outside world besides the donor. Reflect on the objective of the report: Before start writing, think about why are you writing this report, what is the specific objective of the report, are you writing a report on the progress of the project or for giving a description of the field activity and so on. This will help you to structure your report, filter unnecessary descriptions and keep it specific. Reflect on the intended audience: For whom you are writing can be a decisive factor while preparing reports. For example, a monthly progress report which is to be shared among the project people themselves, whether they are implementing or supporting, does not need detailed description about the project whereas a report on the workshop or a campaign as a field activity may require you to give a background of your project in more details as you will be sharing it with attendees of the workshop or with media or with the district officials who may not be aware of your project. Start early: After ascertaining the objective and intended audience, you should start working on your report. Do not wait for the work to get completed. However it is true that you write the report after the completion of the activity or the end of the term of the project in case of writing progress reports, you can write good reports only if you start working on your report much earlier. As you have been entrusted with the task of writing the report, you should be attentive of the ongoing project activities. Take record as per your requirement, collect the fact and figures, take the photographs so that you will be ready with all the contents and you will have to just put all these in a structured way. This will help you to prepare a good report in time and will also allow you to have time for peer’s review and feedback and finally the refinement of your report if required. Important Points NGOs need to focus while writing Project Reports Apart from all the above, consider the following points while writing in order to produce quality reports:
• • • • • • • ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ goes an old cliché. Hence do not hesitate in including appropriate pictures at appropriate places in your report but do remember to attach the captions with them. The number of pictures should be balanced with the length of text in your report. You may attach the pictures as ‘picture gallery’ at the end of the report of the filed activities or the training programmes if you want to include lots of pictures in your report. It adds attraction as well as authenticity to your report. For presentation of comparisons in report, use of table or graph is suggestible. Though you may give a description but even after giving such description, adding a table or graph just next to your description enhances its readability. However before putting the comparison data in the table or graph, identify the trend and check whether the data provided by you prove what you want to establish. Always define specific terminology and abbreviations used in your report. You may define them in the brackets right after its first use or you may append the definition of all the abbreviations or terminologies, appearing in your report, collectively as a separate section, in the beginning or at the end of your report. Avoid using figurative language. Keep it simple. Formatting of report is also very important. A very good report loses its readability and attraction in the absence of formatting. Though it may appear very trivial to you but use of same font throughout the report, emphasizing the text by writing it in bold or italics, numbering the headings, subheadings and points under them appropriately (you may refer the numbering as it is done in this write-up itself), numbering the tables and graphs, adding the caption to the photographs etc. helps reader to understand your report in a better manner. Prepare your report well in advance. Keep time for proof reading and reviewing it yourself as well as for taking reviews and feedback from others on the project. Their constructive suggestions may help you in refining your report. Last but not the least; develop the habit of reading reports or documentation of other projects as well on internet or otherwise. As a beginner it will be of great help and gradually you will be skilled in the art of writing very good reports. How NGOs can write Project Completion Report Project completion report is a formal document of closing of a project. You must prepare the project completion report even if your supporting agency does not put the obligation on you. It is a document of organization’s learning also. Hence it must be prepared and preserved. For writing Project completion report: • • • Create the title page outlining the project title, its starting and ending date and name of the supporting as well as implementation agencies. Add the table of contents. Give an overview of the project writing a summary statement that the project is complete as the beginning of the overview. Further describe your project in the
• • • • • background of the problems aimed by the project and specify the goals and objectives of the project as well as its intervention area in the overview. Describe the results and outcomes of the project. You may add a section as project highlights describing the most important aspects of the project. Write about the issues, challenges and difficulties as risk summary. At the end write about the lessons learnt, what worked during the implement and what did not; what are the ways to improve the intervention. You may also give some of the best practices as the appendix in the project completion report. Hence following the above guidelines you may prepare the project reports. However there is always a room for your own creativity and innovative thoughts in your project report. How NGOs can develop Meeting Minutes Meeting minutes are the authentic records of the meetings held during the implementation period. Before we proceed on this section, it is very important to understand that minutes are the records of actions taken. It is not the record of everything that is said in the meeting. That is a transcript. For writing meeting minutes: • • • • • • • • Proper recording of meeting is very important. Hence arrive early and choose a seat near the facilitator. You may use a recording device with due permission. Obtain a copy of agenda in advance. As the agenda outlines the key points of discussion, you will be aware of them beforehand and you can make a section for each agenda to record the discussions held under them. Edit the minutes taken by you as early as you can after the meeting when the discussions of the meeting are fresh in your memory. Write the date, time, location and the name of attendees at the beginning of the minutes. Write down the key points of discussion, the important decisions and the responsibilities given. At the end use the follow up section to tell the future course of action i.e. who needs to do what and the deadline of the task. While writing the minutes do not use figurative language. Stick to the facts only and do not add your judgments or opinions. Use the bullet points to keep things clear and concise while writing meeting minutes. How NGOs can write Quarterly Reports for their Projects
Generally, long term projects demand the quarterly reports on the progress of the project. Quarterly progress report provides an update on the project and reviews its progress every three months. While writing quarterly reports your sentences should contribute to an understanding of the progress made and difficulties and challenges faced while giving an outlook of the future. For writing quarterly progress report: • • • • • • • • • • • Create a title page in the same manner you created the cover page of the monthly report. Give a table of contents. Write an executive summary highlighting the demonstrative results and achievements of the quarter and the conclusion you have drawn from them. Executive summary of the Quarterly report should not go beyond one page. Provide an introduction of the project, with its aims and objectives, highlighting the objectives set for that quarter and its implementation area. Include a summary of the work plan and your approach. In the main body of the report, present an update on activities referring the monthly reports and discuss the results or the progress. You may present these results in the form of tables or figures. This will help the readers to visualize the feature that you want them to acknowledge. Add a chapter on real difficulties and challenges if any. Outline the conclusions drawn which lead to the fulfillment of the project objectives. Though not mandatory, you have the option to explain what you intend to cover in the next quarter. Add appropriate pictures as the picture gallery or fit them in between your report at the appropriate places. Quarterly reports should be kept succinct. Preparing the quarterly report for the first time may be a little difficult but it becomes easier over time. It is a good practice to follow the same format of the quarterly report for the one single project. How NGOs can write Monthly Project Reports Generally, we may be required to prepare and submit monthly reports, quarterly reports, annual report, the project completion report, project activity reports or the meeting minutes during implementation of most of the projects. To this end, following are the basic guidelines one should follow while preparing these reports, unless and until, the supporting agency provides you a reporting format or a template.
Monthly Report: Monthly report gives an update on the project activities of a particular month. Since you prepare the monthly report every month and share it with the project people, you need not to go in the details of the project. While preparing monthly reports: • • • • • • You may start with a small introduction writing three or four lines about the project and specific objectives set for that particular month. Right after introduction you may give the updates on the activities of the month. Emphasize and go in detail on the specific and important activities scheduled for that particular month while just an update will do for the other regular activities you do every month. Do give reasons and justification for those activities which were scheduled for the month but could not be undertaken due to some or the other reason instead of not mentioning about those activities at all. It makes your report complete while leaving them altogether ends your report with a question mark. Do not go into the analysis and assessment of project’s progress in monthly reports and leave them for quarterly or annual reports. However you may add a section on the difficulties and challenges if any. Try to include two or three nice pictures depicting your work. Last but not the least; add a cover page to the report that outlines the title of the report, title of the project, names of the supporting and implementation agencies and the period i.e. the month about which you are reporting. Reflecting on the Structure of the report and Prepare a Format Though different reports may be required to be put in different or sometimes specific structures, generally you must include the following in your report in the same order as given below: • • • • Title of the report: This is the first page of your report. Many people do not go for a separate sheet as the cover page considering it as wastage of paper, but this is the first thing that the reader reads in the report. Hence it is better to add a cover page to your report including the title of your report with the appropriate picture. That helps making your report catchy and creates an interest in the reader to read the report. However you may avoid going for a cover page while writing meeting minutes. Content list: You must include the table of contents with the page numbers, especially if the report is large one. Abstract: Abstract is something you should write after you write the whole report but should be placed in the beginning of the report. For writing the abstract, read the whole report and try to bring out the essence of your report and put it in words as abstract of the report. Try to keep it short. Introduction: Instead of jumping straight to the report of events or progress or the activities, do give an introduction. In the introduction, you should start with
• • • the background of the problem. Then write the problem statement itself, what motivates you to solve the problem i.e. why it is important to solve the problem and how are you trying to solve it through your project. In short, introduction is nothing but a short description of your project and how the particular activity about which you are reporting relates to the objective or the goal of the project. After giving a description of the work, write how is the rest of the report organized. It gives the reader an idea of your work and he/she reads your report in the backdrop of your introduction. The length of introduction again depends on the objective of the report and intended audience as well as the length of the report itself. It is not a good practice to give an introduction of one page for a two or three pages report. Main body of the report: After introduction, you may start the main body of your report i.e. the report on the events or activities about which you are reporting. Conclusion: It is very important to conclude your report. In the conclusion, you may add the main take away points, what was the result of your work, how your work has contributed towards making this world a better place. Conclusion should be crispy. Summary: If your report is very detailed and complex one, append a report summary at the end of the report. In the summary, state the purpose of the report, scope of the report, its key findings and the results How NGOs can develop Annual Report and Activity Report Annual Report: Annual report presents the overview of the progress of a project towards its goals. Based on the quarterly reports you may prepare the annual report. For writing annual report you may follow the guidelines of the quarterly reports. Additionally you may give the comparisons for quarters as well as yearly comparisons and growth if your project extends beyond one year. In annual report, you may provide the introduction of the project in more detail than you provide in quarterly report. While concluding the report, try to present what progress the project has made towards achieving its ultimate goal besides the specific objectives of the year. Activity Report: During the implementation of the project you may organize several activities as part of the project. These activities may include trainings, workshops, campaigns, celebrations etc. Most of the time you are required to submit activity reports separately apart from adding them in the quarterly or monthly reports. You are supposed to give a gist of these kinds of activities in your monthly or quarterly reports while you need to submit a detailed report on them in stipulated time as soon as they get completed. Though there may be little differences if we deal each of these activities separately, there are some common points we should consider while preparing activity reports. For writing activity reports:
• • • • • Create the title page outlining the name of the activity, the title of the project, date and location of the activity and the name of the implementation and supporting agency. Pasting an impressive photograph on the cover page will add lots of attraction in the report. Give an overview of the project and how is the activity related to project’s objectives. The overview should be simple so that it may be understood by the concerned people who are not directly associated with your project. Give a description of the activity, how it started and proceeded till the end. In case of training or workshop reports, give the session wise descriptions or the key points of discussion respectively. Do write the names of facilitators and participants. Appending a copy of the signature of the participants or the attendees as the appendix increases the authenticity of your report. Photographs are must for activity reports. Four Simple Steps to Write a Case Study: A Guide for NGOs A Case Study is like a real-life testimonial or a case to be discussed with the reader. It is like a puzzle to be solved by the reader. It should have enough information to (a) understand the problem (b) analyze the information and (c) help the readers come up with a solution. A case study has the information arranged in such a way that the reader is made to step in the shoes as the case writer was in the beginning. It is one of the best ways to relate a client with his counterpart when he underwent the same situation. A Case study is a great way to demonstrate the benefits of the services offered by an NGO or a company. Not just being a testimonial, a case study is a real-life example of how one’s services helped in satisfying a client’s needs. It creates a connection between a reader and the services offered by NGO or the company. Here are some of the tips to write a good case study: Writing a case study requires certain phases. The steps involved in writing a good case study are: Step 1 – Research Study A good case study requires primary and secondary research work.
Primary research - A primary research entails collection of data with the tools of surveys, interviews and focused group discussions. The data establishes a direct relationship between an NGO and the stakeholders. Secondary Research – Secondary research work involves processing of collected information for the betterment of services. The tools of data collection are library, internet, journals etc Step 2 – Analysis Phase The analysis phase comprises two steps: (a) Collating all the information in one place – Once all the information has been collected, the same is put in one place and analyzed. (b) Formulating the case study in simple sentences – Following analysis of the information, the next step is interpreting the information in simple sentences. Step 3 – Writing a Case Study Upon completion of all the above mentioned steps, the problem or case question which the reader wants to solve is described. All the sections of the case study are organized, giving an appropriate background to the case study, framing the middle part and giving an end to the case study. The sentences must be appropriately structured so as to retain the interest of the reader. Step 4 – Make a Conclusion The last part is to draw a conclusion and outcome of the case study. It should give a satisfying result which can make the reader a satisfied customer or a client.
How NGOs can develop budgets in their Proposals Developing and managing budgets can be a challenging task for NGOs whenever they need to plan a project, write a proposal and implement an activity. Efficient financial management is essential for the growth of any organization. Besides, if you have wellmanaged and transparent financial system, it also enables donor agencies to gain confidence in your NGO and offer to support to it. However, setting up an efficient financial management system requires a sound understanding of financial practices and principles. Here we are providing a basic guide for NGOs so that they can improve their capacity in developing and managing budgets for their organization and project and contribute towards an overall effective financial system. Advantages of Effective Financial Management System in NGOs What should not be done with a Budget – for NGOs? …Continued from the Main Page
We have read about what NGOs can do with a budget: manage organizational expenses and income, plan project activities, fulfill donor expectations and also work towards longterm sustainability of the organization. Now we try to understand the essential things that should not be done with a budget. For example, we tend to believe that a budget submitted to a donor agency cannot be changed. Practically speaking, this is not true to some extent. Budgets can be changed, but in many cases, it is required to take prior permission from the concerned donor agency. Myths about Budgets clarified: “Budgets cannot be changed” Budgets can be modified to some extent. You can diversify your resources and cut your costs. Of course, take prior permission from your donor agency for this. “Budgets can be Often in our effort to meet proposal deadlines, we develop budgets developed overnight” overnight. This ends up in poor planning and even rejection of proposals. Always take time to build your budget – your NGO should live with a budget always! “Budgets do not have a Budgets should be developed on a certain base. They cannot be developed basis” without any basis. In most cases, the basis should be the previous year’s income and expenditure. If applying for a project, look out for the expenses of the project’s previous year. Donor funding limitation to be also considered “Budget can be developed Budget work is a joint exercise. It is a team work. Involving the entire by a single person” team is important to produce an effective budget. “Budgets have same All budgets do not have same formats. Different budgets are developed for formats” different purposes. If you are writing a proposal, it is a different budget format and if you managing an organization, you will have a different budget format. Similarly, different donor agencies have different budget formats Defining certain terms in a budget …Continued from the Main Page Here we discuss some commonly used terms in a budget and try to define them: Contingency Amount: Contingency amount refers to the money set aside to cover any unforeseen expenses of the organization or the project. Contingency expenses are required because any organization or a project can face an uncertainty because of which certain costs are incurred. As a standard practice, the contingency amount is usually 10% of the total budget.
Monitoring & Evaluation Costs: Some budget formats seek specific information about costs proposed by NGOs for monitoring and evaluation of the project. Overhead Costs: Overhead costs are expenses that are required for running the organization. These expenses may not be directly contributing towards implementing a project but they are still essential to maintain the office and manage the day-to-day affairs of the organization. Usually, these costs should not exceed more than 10% of the total budget in any good proposal. R&D expenses: R&D or Research and Development expenses refer to those expenses required by the organization or a project to undertake research, assessment and consultation for the intervention. In some projects, it could be just be part of the initial work or in some others, it could remain a continuous activity. Start-up Costs: Start-up costs relate to the expenses incurred by the organization initially for launching a project or developing the organization. For new projects or organizations, activities such as office set-up, staff recruitment, orientation, pre-feasibility studies etc all fall under the Start-up Costs. Unit Cost: Unit cost is the cost of a single item or a unit. It could be per day cost of a staff member or a consultant or single cost of a computer machine. Matching Contribution in the Budget …Continued from the Main Page You may have noticed in several Calls for Proposals, donor agencies put a condition that they would be able to fund only 70-80% of the total budget submitted to them for funding. The rest of the 20% should be sourced from elsewhere. Sourcing funding from elsewhere means matching the contribution made by the donor agency from other places. Donor agencies stress upon this because it only ensures that the grantee. NGO takes responsibility and ownership to the project. But from where can the NGO source this matching contribution from. The donor agency expects the contribution to come either from the NGO itself or from the community. It could also be possible that another donor
agency can support the 20% costs. In some cases, if a government agency is a partner in the project, it can provide this fund as well. NGOs often feel discouraged to apply to such calls because they think they would not be able to mobilize the 20% funding from other sources. However, in real terms, this condition should not deter them from applying. It is only a matter of perspective to clearly understand matching contributing. In mobilizing the matching contribution, NGOs first need to look at other available sources of funding: another donor agency willing support a meeting, a staff salary, a conference or make a simple donation. Often small donors easily give out money when they see that there is already 80% funding available with the NGO. If donor agencies are not available, then look for the governmental agencies with whom partnership is essential for the project. It may not be easy for the local government to give out direct money for the project as matching contribution, but you can always request them support in terms of using their infrastructure and other resources. You can request the government for using their building premises to organize workshops and meetings free of cost. You can request one of the government officials to participate in a project activity as a resource person free of cost. These contributions can then be calculated in terms of costs and put in the budget as a contribution. Similarly, if there is a community contribution in kind (like community members providing labor service for a project activity) can also be considered as a cost contributed by them to the project. This can be put up in the budget. Another important source can be the NGO itself. If your organization is well-established and you have your own office, computers, vehicles and other infrastructure that can support the project, you can estimate its costs and put it in the budget as your matching contribution. If all these small contributions are put together, there is a complete chance of paying up for the 20% matching fund.
Types of Costs to be included in the Budget There are different types of costs that have to be mentioned in the budget. Most donor agencies prefer to have the costs spread over different heads so as to get an overview of how the resources have been divided between different types. Basically, we can divide the overall costs as: Operational Costs: Operational costs include those expenses that have to be met for implementing activities for a project or an organization. These are directly billed to the donor agency because they have a direct impact on the beneficiary community. Activities such as organizing a village meeting, conducting a training workshop, running an awareness campaign involve certain expenses. These expenses are listed under the Operational Costs in a budget. Staff costs: Staff costs refer to the expenses towards paying salaries and consultancy fee to the staff of the organization. Staff costs include expenses right from the recruitment of the staff (interview, orientation etc) to their salaries. Professionally speaking, it is important to mention how much time a particular staff will provide for the project and his/her salary has to be calculated accordingly. For example, the head of organization
may be able to give only 25% of the time to a particular project for which funds are being requested and budgeted. So the salary will also be fixed towards this time only. Core Costs: Core costs are also costs incurred towards the operational expenses but of the organization. Most donor agencies would like to know how much money the NGO will spend on the administration of the organization. Costs here can include staff meetings, stationary and other office maintenance expenses. In some cases, the expenses towards hiring a receptionist or caretaker who is not directly contributing to the project can be listed here. Capital Costs: Although donor agencies are advising NGOs to massively cut down on capital costs, yet these costs continue to remain essential. These include expenses for buying computers, office furniture, vehicles, office building etc. Some donors have even stopped funding capital costs completely. Even if you are proposing these costs in a budget, ensure that they cover less than 10% of the total budget. Planning the Budget or Budgeting the Plan …Continued from the Main Page When developing a budget for a project or an organization, the exercise involves going back and forth from your activities to your budget and from your budget to your
activities. This process will continue till you have refined it and gained confidence in the entire proposal. When conceiving a project, you also decide upon what kind of activities have to be implemented. Or if you are planning the budget for your NGO, you need to list out activities that will be carried out for the coming year. Have an intense discussion with your team about the costs involved in implementing various project activities. What kind of manpower and material support is required for these activities? Take some flipcharts and on each of it, write down a project activity. Discuss with your team for the inputs required in delivering this activities. Estimate the realistic costs for these inputs. Whether it is to cover expenses of the staff persons involved in the project activity or buying some material or paying for travel, all these can be written down on the flip chart for each activity. In an Excel sheet, you can then start mentioning these activities and the proposed costs and calculate the total expenses. The Finance Officer can advise on the inflation costs, current prices and any other overheads you are missing. The Organizational head may include other administrative expenses, if required, salaries and any new purchases.
Involving the NGO team in developing the budget …Continued from the Main Page Usually the senior and the experienced staff of the organization are involved in developing the budget. They should be in a position to take responsibility for financial aspects of the organization or a project. It is also better if they have experience in managing project finances in a cost-effective manner. Following are the staff members who can be involved in developing the budget: • • • Organizational Director Finance Officer Project Officer It is important for all these staff members to be aware about the vision and objectives of the organization; the needs and integrities of the project implemented; the admin and financial policies of the organization; and the approaches of the donor agency. The board members of the organization may have also constituted a finance committee to oversee the income and expenses. It would be a good idea to involve one of the members of this committee or take his/her opinion. The Project Officer should be primarily responsible for developing the draft budget since this person will have a better idea of the field realities and requirements. He or she can then submit the draft to the Finance Officer for any inputs. The Director can then gather a meeting of key persons for final review and approval. In this way, the process of budget formulation will remain complete and all aspects of the organization and the project will be included. Why budgets are so complicated for NGOs? …Continued from the Main Page Developing budget is always a complicated task for NGOs especially when they need to develop a proposal and satisfy every entry given by the donor agency in the budget format. Sometimes it is easier to write a proposal than developing a budget to request funding.
Budgets will continue to become more complicated. However, if you keep your financial system clear, the task of developing it also becomes simple. A typical budget developed by an international NGO for the European Commission Budgets have become complicated because the increased need for transparency and accountability. Let us not forget that donor agencies are also required to submit their expenditure for proper audits and they have to maintain proper books. Another important factor to be observed here is that as budget formats become more and more difficult, the expenditure on administration has also been tightened. Donor agencies are less interested in supporting overhead costs of an organization. Besides, the less you propose for your office infrastructural needs the better chances you have for getting the requested grants from the donor agency.
What should not be done with a Budget – for NGOs? …Continued from the Main Page We have read about what NGOs can do with a budget: manage organizational expenses and income, plan project activities, fulfill donor expectations and also work towards longterm sustainability of the organization. Now we try to understand the essential things that should not be done with a budget. For example, we tend to believe that a budget submitted to a donor agency cannot be changed. Practically speaking, this is not true to some extent. Budgets can be changed, but in many cases, it is required to take prior permission from the concerned donor agency. Myths about Budgets clarified: “Budgets cannot be changed” Budgets can be modified to some extent. You can diversify your resources and cut your costs. Of course, take prior permission from your donor agency for this. “Budgets can be Often in our effort to meet proposal deadlines, we develop budgets developed overnight” overnight. This ends up in poor planning and even rejection of proposals. Always take time to build your budget – your NGO should live with a budget always! “Budgets do not have a Budgets should be developed on a certain base. They cannot be developed basis” without any basis. In most cases, the basis should be the previous year’s income and expenditure. If applying for a project, look out for the expenses of the project’s previous year. Donor funding limitation to be also considered “Budget can be developed Budget work is a joint exercise. It is a team work. Involving the entire by a single person” team is important to produce an effective budget. “Budgets have same All budgets do not have same formats. Different budgets are developed for formats” different purposes. If you are writing a proposal, it is a different budget format and if you managing an organization, you will have a different budget format. Similarly, different donor agencies have different budget formats How NGOs can organize Effective Training Programmes
Capacity building is an important component of human resource development in an organization. By developing the capacities of human resources, the organizations as well as the employees make progress. However capacity building is not as simple as it appears at first instance. It demands a systematic planning much ahead of the actual training starts. Especially in the backdrop of the kind of work we the NGOs are involved with and the resources we have, it becomes all the more important to adopt a systematic approach towards capacity building or training so that the desired results may be achieved. Given the importance of capacity building, many of the projects also do involve the component of capacity building these days. In such cases we think of training as just a project activity and most of the time get entangled in hardware aspects as making logistic arrangements, engaging a trainer or facilitator etc. and do not focus on software aspect which is the soul of bringing the social change we are aiming at. Hence, to develop the employees through their capacity building or to bring about a positive change in the society at large through training as a project activity, we must follow a systematic path as follows: Identify the training needs through training need assessment: First of all we need to know the gap areas where the training is needed. To identify these gaps a systematic analysis is required. This involves finding answers to questions whether training is actually needed or which are the areas that need an improvement through training. There are several methods which may be used for training need assessment such as questionnaires or focused group discussions etc. Based on the target group we should choose the method for need assessment. Set the objectives of training: Once training needs get identified, we need to set the objective of our training programme to fulfill these needs. Finalize the contents or topics for the training: Based on the need areas and objectives, we need to finalize the contents of the training as what we are going to make participants learn in the training programme. Prepare a training design: After the objectives are set, we need to prepare a training design or outline as how the training programme will run. This is one of the most crucial stages of organizing a training programme as the success of training depends much on the fact that how cautiously we have drawn the outline of the training. Concerning the objectives and available resources and time we have, we need to put the contents of the training in a time frame. At this stage only we need to choose our methodologies for the training. It should be noted that methodologies must be according to the content, target group and the
objective of the training. You may opt for different methodologies for different topics or sessions. Simultaneously you need to foresee the logistic requirement for taking up the session at this stage only and you should write it down in your training design so that you may arrange them beforehand. Thus your training design should include: • • • What contents will be taken up in the training and their time limit What methodologies will be adopted for the contents What materials will be needed Develop a module for the training: Based on your design, develop a module for the whole training programme. The module should include each and every step of each and every session you are taking up in the training. In short it should have a session by session description of how to proceed. It will guide as how to move a session smoothly. Try to include the basic reference material also in your module or refer to other available references for a fuller understanding of the topic you are going to take up. Do not forget to discuss the module with other trainers or facilitators if you are engaging someone else for the training. This will make the sessions go smoother and will also wash of confusions earlier. Organize the training: Finishing the above tasks you may proceed with the organizing training programme as per your training module. Evaluation of the training: Evaluation of training is very important to measure whether the objectives of training are fulfilled. Hence do not forget to evaluate your training programme. You may go for the mid-term evaluation if it’s a long term training programme to judge whether it’s going in the right direction and mend it if required. A participatory evaluation is always more beneficial.
Do you have these policies and systems in your NGO? anagement systems necessary for NGOs to run effective organizations and mobilize resources for development work. You can click on the links below to know more about these policies and systems, refer samples and identify gaps in your organization. 1. Organizational Chart for your NGO (read more…) 2. Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Statement in NGOs (read more…) 3. Leadership Succession Plan for your NGO (read more…) 4. Human Resource Management System for NGOs (read more…) 5. Job Descriptions for NGO Staff (read more…) 6. Personnel Policy (see sample) 7. Communications Policy (see sample) 8. Computer Policy (see sample) 9. Procurement Policy (see sample) 10. Fixed Assets Policy (see sample)
11. Finance Policy (see sample) Organizational Chart for your NGO Organizational charts give a pictorial representation of the functioning styles of your NGO. It provides a graphic view of the hierarchical system and the levels of responsibility in an organization. It is relevant to present an organizational chart because it gives a quick, bird’s-eye view of the management structure of an NGO. Organizational charts are mostly found in annual reports, brochures and other promotional material of the NGO. But it is also essential for fundraising and donor proposals. Many donors and donor agencies are interested to know how the operational systems of the NGO are structured and how roles and responsibilities of various staff members are distributed. Organizational charts also become useful when new employees join the organization and they need to be oriented to the working environment. Organizational charts also aid the management to understand the understaffed and overstaffed sections and arrange transfers between them accordingly. If your NGO has a board of directors comprising of community members, then an organizational chart presents the best opportunity to highlight this. You can mention how the beneficiary community is involved in the decision-making activities of the organization. Below is a sample for an organizational chart in a typical small and medium-sized NGO: A Simple Format for NGOs to write Job Descriptions for their Staff
Writing job descriptions for staff is a necessary part of a well-managed human resource management system. However, often NGOs ignore to define the role of their staffs even after they join the organization for work. Maintaining job descriptions not only reflects the effectiveness of the organization’s human resource policy, they also lay out clarification for the staff and also mitigate any conflicts in the future. Below is some basic information about what job description is and how it can be developed. A job description usually comprises of the following information of an individual staff about to be recruited or about to join the organization for work: • • • • • • Title of the Job Location or Base Date of Joining Name of the Supervisor Qualifications Tasks or Assignments In some cases, these are also referred to as “Terms of reference” and they go into further details of defining the objectives, scope and deliverables of the staff position in addition to the above –mentioned points. As we can understand here, a job description is useful in the following manner: • • • • • It clearly outlines the role and responsibilities of each staff working in the organization and how the person is contributing to the overall vision of the work. It helps in recruiting the most suitable candidate for the expected job work and it can be used for job advertising purposes as well. A clear record of tasks listed in the job description also enables the organization to provide better orientation for newly recruited staff. Job descriptions are also useful for accounting and financial management systems A job description plays an important role for the organization in monitoring and evaluating the performance of the staff. How to maintain Fixed Assets Register – NGO Financial Management Policy As part of the financial management policy, NGOs need to maintain a Fixed Assets Register and below is the process for it, which can be included in your policy manual: “15. Fixed Assets Register It is the responsibility of the Finance/Accounts manager to maintain a complete and accurate fixed asset register. The fixed assets register will be maintained on an excel spreadsheet or a book and should have the following details:
a) Identification or serial number b) Acquisition date c) Description of asset d) Location e) Class of asset f) Cost of acquisition g) Accumulated depreciation h) Net book value The Finance/Accounts manager should ensure that all the assets are tagged with identification codes. All the classes should commence with the prefixes itemized below followed by a unique 3 or 4 numerical numbers for each specific item. E.g. an office desk at the reception will fall under the furniture and fitting class and will be identified by the code XYZ/FA/OD/) 001 where:FA – Fixed Asset FF – Furniture & Fittings OD – Office Desk 001 – Unique for Desk at the reception 15. 1 Processing Depreciation a) At the end of every month, the Accountant should prepare a depreciation schedule for each of the items using depreciation rates described in sub-section b) The Finance manager should review the schedules and sign them as evidence of the review. On the strength of the duly reviewed depreciation general journal, the accountant shall update the fixed assets register 15. 2 Accounting for Fixed Assets Addition a) Recording and payment for the acquisition of fixed assets shall be as per payment procedures. b) On delivery, the asset shall be classified, tagged and recorded in the fixed assets inventory register.
15.3 Accounting for Disposal of Assets a) The board of organization must approve disposal of fixed assets. No assets should be disposed of without the written authorization of the board. b) On the strength written authorization by the board, the management should invite public bids for the purchase of the asset. c) On receipt of minimum of three bids, the board should sit and adjudicate over the bids. On conclusion of the sale to the winning bidder and on the strength of the board disposal authorization and adjudicated bids, the finance manager and accountant shall prepare a journal to record the disposal and the bidder’s indebtedness. The journal will include an adjustment for the revaluation if any. d) If the disposal is a cash sale, the Accountant should issue a general receipt. e) At the board discretion, an auction may be conducted. Cash proceeds from the auction should be treated as above.” You are here: Home / Financial Management for NGOs / Internal Control Measures and Management Information Report – NGO Financial Management Policy Internal Control Measures and Management Information Report – NGO Financial Management Policy Further to developing different reports as part of the financial management, below are details on internal control measures and management information report: “14.3 Internal Control Measures In addition to setting up adequate internal control measures, Management shall from time to time perform these checks to safeguard assets: 14.4 Management Information Report The Finance/Accounts Officer prepares and consolidates the Reports and submit it to the Relevant Persons as the case may be, with a copy to the Finance Manager before 10th of every month. This report is under 6 heads and is explained below:
Bank & Cash Balances: This will reflect the utilization of funds received and also will furnish broad indication of how much has been spent on Grants and on office/admin expenses. The opening and closing balances should be in agreement with the Bank Book. Analysis of Expenses against Budget: This is the variance report on Management of Expenses budget and reflects whether the trend of expenses have to be reviewed in order to avoid any negative variation and take corrective action as necessary. Every positive and negative variance has to be commented upon citing reasons for variance and corrective action proposed. Grant Utilization Status: It is necessary to review on a monthly basis the utilization status of grant budget in order to ensure that the actual spending is as per the planned budget and the phasing of utilization . Statutory Compliance: The implications of non- compliance of statutory provisions are very serious and it is therefore necessary that the management is kept informed about the compliance or otherwise of these provisions, this report becomes useful for managers to monitor adherence to the requirements and due dates. Fixed/Consumable Assets: The Assets Register needs to be maintained as per the format authorization of the same need to be done on a regular basis.” How to develop Financial Reports in NGOs – NGO Financial Management Policy Financial reports are developed for internal use such as monitoring expenses within the organization and also for external use such as for submitting reports to donor agencies. In many cases, there can be separate formats for both the uses. Nevertheless, it is important that the internal financial reports are properly developed according a guideline. Below is the procedure that can be adopted for developing internal financial reports: “14. Reports 14.1 Monthly Accounts The financial reports and schedules as prescribed below should reach the relevant persons before the 10th of the following month as per the following dates:
The following reports on financial information will be produced by Accounts for internal and external use. 14.2 Monthly Expenditure and Variance Report A Monthly Expenditures and Variance Report that reflects the expenditures incurred during the month for each line item and the total expenditure incurred for the month. It also gives the cumulative expenditures incurred to date and the available balance on the budget. The report is due to Avert Society by the 10th day of the ensuing month. See Annexure B for a sample of the report. Where there is a budget variance, particularly over spending on a budget line item, or introduction of a new set of activities in a budget column, the report should state if the variance is: 1. Permitted under the terms 2. Unanticipated and requires approval” of this grant;
Budget Management and Planning the Financials – NGO Financial Management Policy Further to planning budgets for specific activities by an NGO, below are the details outlined on how to manage the budget and what guidelines to be taken into consideration: “13.2 Budget Management a) A Budget is an estimate of the amount of money to be received and to be spent for a specified purpose in a given time. b) Budgets set a framework for reporting and analysis. c) Budgeting never stands completely alone, but rather flows out of the managerial process of setting objectives and strategies and of building plans. It is especially and intimately related to financial planning. d) While accounting, separate sub-codes to be created for every activity under the main grant code, so that the utilization of the budget can be monitored activity-wise. 13.3 While Planning the Financials a) The whole team needs to be involved in budgeting process. b) Objectives of the program along with activity plans must be completed before starting the budgeting process. c) Changes in strategies for the forthcoming year based on the past experience have to be unanimously decided by the team and the budget should be accordingly formulated. d) List out the resources required to achieve these activities and cost them. e) All line items in the budget must flow from planned activities. f) Budget should be as detailed as possible with justifications and break up of costs matched against each activity. g) When budgeting for subsequent years/phase, cost increases due to inflation, exchange rates etc would need to be kept in mind. h) All expenses have to be reviewed against the budget on a monthly basis.
i) The project management shall verify the quarterly reports against the budget, analyze causes for variance and take appropriate action.” How to develop Financial Planning and Budgeting in NGO Financial Management Policy October 23, 2012 By fundsforngos …continued (click here to know more) NGOs receive specific grants to implement activities but it may not be necessary that the entire allocated grant will be spent for a certain activity. NGOs usually have their own internal valuation systems to judiciously allocate resources for different activities. For this reason, it is important to undertake financial planning and budget. So what is the procedure for this? Below are the steps outlined for carrying out this process: “13. Financial Planning & Budgeting 13.1 Budgets & Approvals It is necessary that for every activity taken up by us to be interpreted in financial terms and get the approval of the concerned competent authority. Such interpretation takes the form of budgets detailing each and every components of the activity so that a clear evaluation of the total activity and the components thereof can be made by before approval. Such budgets normally become necessary, for the following activities: a) Meetings & conferences b) Special events c) Remuneration of Staff & Consultants d) Capacity Building & other Training Programs e) Office Running Expenses f) Promotional events
g) Travel However, most of the times the expenses incurred on these activities are part of our programs budget and specific grants are allocated for such expenses, and would require only a simple sanction. It is therefore necessary that the budget for such activities is prepared at the time of preparation of the plan itself. The process to be followed is a) Budget for each activity to be prepared giving break up of sub-activities and related costs. b) The budget has to be verified and certified by the finance/accounts manager to ensure that the costs are realistic as compared to the activities, and the budget captures all the required costs for such activities only. c) The necessary approval of the budget for incorporation into the Plan. Wherever there are procurement of supplies and services for such activities, the formalities with regard to multiple quotations, evaluations, etc. have to be followed.” How NGOs can raise Funds in a Strategic Manner August 24, 2012 By fundsforngos NGOs often get lost when they have to start planning to raise funds for their projects and programs. As soon as one project ends, they quickly need to look around for more funding to sustain their work. But funding may not be immediately available for them to grab it. Besides, with so much competition, it is not easy enough to get hold of the desired support from donors all the time. In order to counter such a situation, it is important for NGOs to have a strategy. Fundraising strategy is always kept on the back burner by NGOs because they lack the skills to develop it.
What is Resource Mobilization? Link to the Main Page As fundraisers, we often come across the term ‘resource mobilization.’ Although technical in sense, it merely means mobilizing resources. Now resources can include many different things, not just money, for your organization. Apart from money, you can also raise support from volunteers; you can also receive material donations for your NGO; or you can get in-kind contribution from your own community. So, in order to put all these sources of support into one kitty (including cash donations), we refer to them collectively as ‘resource mobilization.’ Resource mobilization is actually a process of raising different types of support for your organization. As said above, it can include both cash and in-kind support. To further understand what this process is, we will break up these different types of support below:
1. Submitting proposals to a typical donor agency is the most conventional way of getting support 2. Organizing fundraising events where you invite guests and request donations for your organization 3. Donation boxes where you request small amounts of money from public 4. Collecting in-kind contribution such as used clothes, furniture, books, vehicles or even buildings 5. Volunteer support where volunteers provide their time and resources to support the work of your organization 6. Income from business-oriented projects of your organization like selling of publications, offering consultancies, microfinance, microinsurance or microenterprise-based activities All the above listed types of support are essential for NGOs though all of them do not contribute equally to the funding needs of the organization. Yet, a good fundraising strategy will consider all these.
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