Project Maturity for NGOs

From the Project Managers Without Borders Blog
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This blog provides project management content and tools for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Our objective is to inspire project managers to volunteer and make a positive difference in the world through project management.

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In my previous blog entry, ”When you are making the World a Better Place, Who Has Time for Paperwork?, the blog provided a framework that improves the chance that a project delivers on-time, on-budget, and actually meets the needs and expectations of the organization’s stakeholders. This oversight can help ensure a steady donor stream, maintain public confidence, and support continued commitment to an organization’s strategic objectives and goals.

What are the levels and characteristics of Project Management Maturity?

  • Level 1: Initial Process.
    • The organization and project management is in a knee-jerk state.
  • Level 2: Structured Process and Standards.
    • Concept of project management is being grasped by the organization. Local experts may be present.
  • Level 3: Organizational Standards and Institutionalized Process.
    • The organization is structured throughout its processes and the projects are carried out via standardized, repeatable Delivery Frameworks.
  • Level 4: Managing Processes.
    • Project management is a key delivery mechanism of change. Improving delivery is accomplished through measurement and the use of performance key indicators.
  • Level 5: Optimizing Process.
    • Continuous improvement is the ongoing motto through the use of Project management, small changes leading to larger changes in the future. Key performance indicators on effectiveness and efficiency monitored and achievable. The organization and projects follows the continuous improvement.

How to measure the progress to maturity?

The best means to measure this progress is through the following performance measures as Mohammed Abo Ramadan (2015) indicates the following table:

Table 1: Summary of the performance measures in NGOs literature

Performance Measures


Fundraising efficiency

The ability of an NGO to access to funding.

Financial transparency

Preparing reports and submitting them to the concerned stakeholders.

Programs/Projects financial efficiency

The best use of the funds or financial resources to achieve the required or the planned outputs.

Programs/Projects non-financial efficiency

The best use of the non-financial resources to achieve the required or the planned outputs.

Outcomes performance (effectiveness)

To what extent have the outcomes of an NGO’s program been achieved?

Impact performance

The long-term consequences of an NGO’s program including positive or negative effects.


The level of networking with partners, their relevance and satisfaction.


The quality of services provided by an NGO.

How does a NGO increase its maturity through the use of Project Management?

Tools exist on the website in which you can use:

Use the above tools to take project management maturity snapshots of your organization. Take another maturity snapshot six months later. Compare snapshots to one another to determine which project management practices have demonstrated an increasing level of project management maturity and which areas need further work. Work on those areas and in short time Level 4 and Level 5 is achieved.

Another maturity tool comes from the financial sector. Improving the financial maturity level within the organization is the backbone to Project Management Maturity. The United Kingdom National Audit office has developed a financial management maturity model ( The model has similarities characteristics to the Project Management Maturity Model.


Project Maturity is really the NGO being organized and mature in its operations, strategies, and future directions. Maturity can help ensure a steady donor stream, maintain public confidence, and support continued commitment to an organization’s strategic objectives and goals.

What other benefits have you noticed (as a PM or as an NGO) Project Management provides to the Non-Profit sector? What kinds of challenges does one face in the Non-Profit world that you would never see in private or public sector industries? Chime in the comments section below!

Posted by Tony Van Krieken on: October 05, 2016 02:17 PM | Permalink

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- Mahatma Gandhi



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