How to write documentation for an NGO

Written by tracey chandler Google
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How to write documentation for an NGO
All NGOs need funding. (Getty Thinkstock)

One of the biggest daily challenges of all Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) is the search for funding to help with their projects and provide the support that their causes need. Anyone with experience in the writing of grant applications, case studies, formal reports or sponsorship letters will be very useful to any NGO located in any part of the world. Learning how to generate written documents for an NGO is both a science and an art, but it’s something which can be learned and improved over time.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Flawless grammar and writing skills
  • Knowledge of the NGO you are writing for and the projects and/or causes it supports
  • Strong research skills

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    In-house documents

  1. 1

    Create a generic style for all in-house documentation. This will help everyone working for the NGO find the information they are looking for and generate new documents for in-house use whenever necessary without needing lots of prior training. Most NGOs are staffed by interns and volunteers. Staff turnover is incredibly high and this can mean that continuity is difficult. Creating a standard format for all in-house documents is one way of maintaining order within the chaos.

  2. 2

    Avoid writing long, detailed in-house documents, especially for those which detail the NGO’s procedures, aims and rules. Few people working for an NGO (normally interns and volunteers) will have the time to read long documents and it’s better to have people working on active projects than passive ones, like reading company documents.

  3. 3

    Make sure all in-house documents are available in digital form and backed-up online. Documents can be easily lost in a busy NGO office, but they also need to be changed fairly regularly as the position that the NGO is in changes too. It’s easier to make these changes when the files are in digital form.

    Public documents

  1. 1

    Gather all the data the NGO has available when creating public documents, such as case studies. Research into other case studies produced by other organisations working in the area before you publish. Ensure that the information you publish is correct and make reference to other studies to make your documentation more credible.

    How to write documentation for an NGO
    Provide lots of research and data. (Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Share the public documents you write with people who will be interested in reading them. The more you work to promote your findings and share the results of your case studies, the more your NGO will benefit from the time it takes to research and produce all written documentation.

  3. 3

    Stick to an annual calendar when it comes to the production of public documents, such as case studies and project reports. Your NGO will gain more recognition over time if it regularly publishes case studies and reports which adhere to a fixed calendar. Case studies could be produced twice a year, financial reports could be produced annually and a short newsletter documenting the NGO’s recent activities or updates could be produced on a monthly basis. The important thing to remember is to choose a schedule and stick to it.

    Documents used to get funding

  1. 1

    Research into possible sponsors or possible sources of funding before you produce your written documentation. The best applications for grants and requests for sponsorships are written specifically with the sponsor in mind. Generic funding applications rarely work.

  2. 2

    Outline your NGO’s mission, the present project goal, the reasons why you are approaching this particular sponsor for financial backing and how much you need to raise within the first two paragraphs of your document. Sponsors are likely to be busy with their own businesses and won’t even read your application if it looks like it’s going to take up too much time.

  3. 3

    Include the benefits that the sponsor will reap from investing in your NGO and make these benefits top priority by placing them high up in the written documentation you provide. Asking for money without giving a good reason why this might be good for the sponsor’s business or branding image is likely to end in failure.

    How to write documentation for an NGO
    Outline the advantages for the sponsors. (Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images)

Tips and warnings

  • Remain positive when writing documents which are used to ask for funding or sponsorship. There will be many knock-backs before a sponsor or funding source is found to support your NGO, but your energy must not waiver as a result.
  • Never write anything in any document for any NGO without knowing for sure that the information is thoroughly accurate. This is particularly important when including figures or statistics in the documents you produce. False or inaccurate information can land an NGO in a lot of legal difficulties.

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