Pete Haas just made an interesting post on starting a small international NGO over at the TED Fellows Blog. Here is a snipit:
Entrepreneurs or Idiots?
Don’t let the social overtake the enterprise.
“Fortunately if you are starting a new program abroad you donâ€™t need to be an idiot like I was. Here are ten â€œrulesâ€ of starting an international service organization that would have helped me if I had known them a few years ago, and maybe can help you. To anybody running an organization they may seem obvious but it is amazing how many early stage entrepreneurs ignore them while focussed on the mission of trying to just get the school built, the pollution reduced, the farm running, etc. With these rules maybe you can start an enterprise that is as much enterprise as social.
Rule number 1: Donâ€™t start a new organization
There are literally millions of established organizations globally that are in need of support. Before you start something new ask yourself: â€œWhat can I do to help something that is already here become more effective?â€ There are several programs I know of now that if I had learned about them earlier and applied to a management position it could have likely saved me a few years of getting my program running.
Rule number 2: Clearly define what you do and stick with it
So in the face of massive unmet need there is always the temptation to run the feeding-housing-water-sanitation-ecotourism-renewable energy-child education-dolphin saving program. But unless you are say putting up a millennium village presenting this type of program to funders can be a tough sell. To draw an example from my experience at AIDG donors may not see the clear link between a program in say ecotourism and a program in say light industrial fabrication. Don’t be a swiss army knife. Do one or two things well . . . “