9 September 2021
Should a non-profit organization (NGO) set a budget for the personal development of their team? As a funder, how would you want your donations to be spent? In a discussion on the roadblocks faced by NGOs in their personal developments, one particular feedback caught my attention and inspired me to write this article. The feedback read; “Attending training, or any self-development event, is not part of the job scope for someone working in a non-profit organization. If at all it is budgeted for, it should be done outside the organization’s paid time”.
I get it, NGOs are funded by the public, philanthropic organizations, or grants from foundations, corporate or government; and it is common for these funders to set restrictions to ensure the funds are efficiently utilized for the chosen cause. However, we need to be mindful that the program doesn’t roll out by itself, it requires dedicated, passionate, and professional NGO partners to execute it effectively and efficiently. A Malay proverb “Jadikan diri umpama lilin, membakar diri menerangi orang lain” (Be a candle, they burn themselves to give light to others) is noble but not sustainable. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
NGOs are faced with many challenges both at personal and organizational levels. Often unsupported and isolated – fueled only by passion and heart – they work long hours with stretched resources in uncertain and challenging environments to help the most disadvantaged or marginalized members of their communities.
They dedicated themselves trying to save the community, the environment, making the world a better place by performing ‘miracles’ with meager resources. Having to shoulder this demanding and stressful undertaking with very little time for self-care, it is not surprising to observe high incidents of burnt outs. NGOs are change agents and their journey is a marathon; and like marathon runners, as they pace themselves, it is instrumental to provide them with the support they need such as the water stations, cheerleaders, and running mates as they make their way to the finish line.
The benefits of investing in self-development through coaching for business leaders are well established. The coaching process creates a ripple effect, impacting people beyond the coach/coachee relationship. Through coaching, NGOs are given the opportunity to discover and rediscover themselves, allowing them to grow and elevate their impact to their community, helping them to do good better.
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