A Consensus of the Strategies for the Strengthening of Non-Governmental Organizations


Lizzette Rojas, PhD and Flordeliz Serpa, PhD




The administration of a non-governmental organization (NGO) is vital for its capacity to survive, to develop and to become sustainable. To advance the progress of the NGOs in the pursuit of sustainability, it is necessary to develop an overall view about the priorities that need to be worked, particularly those related to their administration. During January and February 2011, Non-Profit Evaluation & Resource Center, Inc. (NPERCI) conducted a comparative analysis of the recommended strategies to strengthen NGOs. These strategies were formulated in several relevant works published in Puerto Rico between 2000 and 2010. The strategies examined were directly related to the administration of NGOs. The purpose of this research was to synthesize such recommended strategies. For the purpose of this research, administration was defined as the NGOs’ capacity to govern, to direct their operations, and to manage, effectively and efficiently, their institutional resources.


The methodology used during this research was comparative analysis.1 A non-probability judgmental and heterogeneous sample of ten works was selected, based on the following inclusion criteria: the work examined was about or directly related to NGOs administration; the work was published between January 2000 and December 2010; and the work was published in an open-access format.2 Among the works included in the analysis, there were two sponsored by foundations, two theses, a web presentation prepared by a private university, two independent research works, two articles published in a professional journal, and a pamphlet prepared by the Office of the Comptroller of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.



The results of the comparative analysis suggested that there was a consensus regarding the recommended strategies to strengthen NGOs. The analyzed works recommended capacity building of the NGOs in several areas, including financial management, human capital management, volunteers’ recruitment, performance evaluation, development of self-sufficiency, development of the board of directors, strategic planning, etc. Also, the analyzed works recommended improving the processes of performance measurement, accountability, transparency, and integration of evaluation as part of the institutional control system. In addition, it was recommended the adoption of standards, norms, and procedures containing internal controls of administration, self-regulation mechanisms and an accreditation system. Lastly, it was recommended to conduct more research about the NGOs in order to document their impact in the community


After the comparative analysis was performed, a content analysis of the recommended strategies was conducted in order to categorize them.3 The process of the content analysis considered diverse perspectives and trends in the field of capacity building and the strengthening of NGOs. Additionally, the researchers considered the actions included in the strategies recommended among the works analyzed, as well as, their interdependence. Consequently, and considering the contributions of the systems theory and its application to the development of the institutional capabilities of the NGOs and the progress of such efforts, the content analysis generated the identification of the priority areas for the development and strengthening of the administration of NGOs. Five categories were identified, based on priority areas: capacity building, development and/or self-sufficiency; evaluation and/or measurement; standards and/or operational norms; research and publications; and awareness, promotion and/or acknowledgement


Based on the results, the researchers present the following recommendations to strengthen NGOs:

  1. To develop capacity building strategies based on the NGOs characteristics in order to develop NGOs’ programs, projects, processes and activities in an effective and efficient way.
  2. To enhance volunteers as promoters of the development and operational self-sufficiency of the NGOs.
  3. To facilitate the board of directors’ adoption and implementation of accountability and transparency measures to respond to donors, clients, governmental agencies and the community.
  4. To support and promote the implementation and/or improvement of performance measures, and accountability and transparency processes.
  5. To promote the adoption of standards, norms and procedures as a mechanism to facilitate and support the effective, responsible, and transparent administration among NGOs.
  6. To promote the integration of evaluation as part of the institutional control system and as a requisite for the funds assignment.
  7. To strengthen and/or develop the compilation, storage, analysis, and divulgation of qualitative and quantitative information relevant to NGOs.
  8. To promote research that contributes with new knowledge, best practices, and innovative strategies to strengthen NGOs, their operations, image and public trust.


It is important to mention that, in order to implement these recommendations, in Puerto Rico and worldwide, it is indispensable the commitment of the NGOs, the academy, the donors, the funding entities, the government, and the recipients of services. Also, NGOs need to maximize their potential and use their strengths for their own empowerment and to step up to the next level. Finally, NGOs need to assume a more active role in their strengthening and development in order to achieve a progressive institutional learning process.



1.  Kumar, R. (1999). Research Methodology. Sage Publications Ltd.

2.  Hernández Sampieri, R., Fernández Collado, C. & Baptista Lucio, P. (2003). Metodología de la Investigación. Tercera Edición. McGraw-Hill Interamericana.

3.  Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods. Second Edition. Sage Publications, Inc.





Lizzette Rojas, PhD

605 Condado Street, Suite 712

San Juan, Puerto Rico 00907



Flordeliz Serpa, PhD

605 Condado Street, Suite 712

San Juan, Puerto Rico 00907




Lizzette Rojas, PhD – Dr. Rojas has worked as an evaluation consultant and researcher since 1990. Her educational background includes an MS in Evaluation Research and a PhD in Administration. Currently, she is the Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer of Non-Profit Evaluation & Resource Center, Inc. (www.nperci.org).


Flordeliz Serpa, PhD – Dr. Serpa is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Non-Profit Evaluation & Resource Center, Inc. since 2004. She has been a researcher and evaluator since 1993. She has an MS in Evaluation Research and a PhD in Administration.