Thinking Like Owners


February 07, 2017

Thinking Like Owners

By Tom Dente

President and CEO

The InsideNGO community is fortunate to have the active participation, thoughtful engagement, and strong spirit of ownership within its growing range of global members. As our sector responds to new challenges, as the definition of operational excellence continues to expand, and as the means to deliver results globally depend increasingly upon operational capabilities, member insights and involvement ensure that InsideNGO evolves to meet new needs. Powering this evolution is the strong shared culture of our community that can best be summarized as “thinking like owners.”

What is an ownership culture of an organization or a community? Many elements come to mind. Owners take the long-term view. Owners balance what is good for an organization overall, not just for a swath of it. Owners do the right thing, not the convenient thing. Owners challenge easy answers. Owners value results over effort. Owners go above and beyond. When I joined InsideNGO six years ago, this feeling of ownership was evident across so many people and areas of our community. In our work with members, our InsideNGO team is daily reminded of this common culture that underlies our vibrant community.

I was reminded of this culture recently at our INGO Impact Investing Network Forum earlier this month. With our members Mercy Corps, PACT, and GOAL and in partnership with the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, we have convened a growing community of more than 40 organizations that since late 2015 has actively been exploring and sharing insights on new forms of finance to better deliver their missions. While grants, contracts, major donor, and other fundraising will continue to be essential in providing the resources to deliver upon our missions, the structuring and use of new financing methods will also continue to grow. 

With the need for additional resources and partnerships to deliver social good, the INGO Impact Investing Network has evolved and expanded to meet its goals to raise the profile of efforts underway across our sector and share learning and collaboration. Last year, this group published a review of activities and efforts underway in the Amplify ii report, highlighting the innovation and creativity emerging in the sector.   

As owners, participants in this recent forum also conducted an open discussion of the broader range of capabilities necessary to achieve the benefits of impact investing and other forms of nontraditional finance. NGOs bring several unique strengths to this playing field, including the depth of relationships and networks in communities, deep technical expertise in capacity building approaches, and effective monitoring and evaluation processes. In contrast, newer areas including sourcing new opportunities, conducting due diligence, and financial negotiation were seen as opportunities for new skills and partnerships as NGOs evaluate how best to gain value from impact investing. In this area and across other InsideNGO programs, this ownership culture ensures that our community responds well to the needs ahead.

At InsideNGO, we value finding the best current answers to a fundamental question: What is required to strengthen the financial resources, the unique talent, and the operational and organizational capabilities of international organizations delivering humanitarian and development results?

 As owners of our community, you shape how we together answer this question. As owners, you take the long-term view and do not settle for easy answers. And as owners, you go above and beyond in helping our community identify and share new answers. And for this, we thank you. 

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