Project Management

Increase NGO Value Through Project Closure

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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Lessons learned and project closure reports are important organizational process assets that a project manager may find missing upon starting work with a new non-governmental organization (NGO) or non-profit organization (NPO). This historical information is useful for many activities such as on-boarding new members, explaining the mission of the organization to the community, or developing project charters. The final project report becomes an important advocacy tool and gives ideas for articles or stories to attract wider attention or to spread news about a particular situation. Additionally, performance information from previous projects can help make the best use of limited resources and funding.

Three ways to bring value to the NGO through project closure:

#1 Engage stakeholders to determine project or phase closure guidelines or requirements. An organization can guide its actions throughout the project by knowing what the expectations are for documenting project successes and failures from the beginning, when to gather lessons learned, and how to archive the project information for future use. These activities can be incorporated into the NGO’s monitoring & evaluation program. It may also open lines of communication to other stakeholders, including in the community the NGO operates, as input on reporting requirements are gathered. Work with the NGO, members of the community, and other stakeholders to determine their reporting needs. Then, suggest templates that may work well for their purposes.

#2 Encourage documentation of project failures. Failure happens. That is the opening line on the Admitting Failure website. Formally closing an aborted or cancelled project is needed to continue critical thinking in the field where the organization works and to help other organizations succeed in those areas. At Admitting Failure, organizations share information as a way to bring “new levels of transparency, collaboration, and innovation across the for-purpose sector.” Project closure reports can provide NGOs with the project history that they can summarize and share on the website. The reports can also provide a foundation for developing a “Failure Report.” A how-to guide developed by Engineers Without Borders Canada can be found on Fail Forward’s website.

#3 Promote dissemination of project success. Formally establishing a project’s closure helps the NGO redirect resources to the next project or project phase and guides communication to internal stakeholders, external funding bodies, and community members. Published peer-reviewed literature by non-profit and NGOs is not common (Allen, 2016). This is a gap in dissemination of information about potentially innovative interventions as evidence-based practices are often formed by peer-reviewed published literature and not unpublished studies, or grey literature. Even if an organization does not develop a scholarly article, the information can be used to inform future decisions on projects. Working with an NGO on its reporting needs is a great opportunity to exercise creative skills and to think beyond a standard report. It’s important to “consider the audience” and communicate the project findings in ways that best suit the stakeholders. You may not consider filming a video on the latest software development project, but this could be the perfect medium to supplement the closure report!

In closing...

A project closure or evaluation report supports the organization in formally documenting the end of the project. It can be used to promote awareness, develop project strategy, and disseminate knowledge in the field of work. Use your project management skills to help an NGO complete a project life cycle and to get a good start in its knowledge management practice




Allen, L. (2016). Why Is There No Funding For Non-Communicable Diseases? Journal of Global Health Perspectives. Retrieved from

Admitting Failure. Accessed December 24, 2016.

Fail Forward. Accessed December 24, 2016.

Better Evaluation. Accessed December 28, 2016.




Romiya Barry is a clinical research professional using the project management framework to improve patient care and community health.  She is recognized by the Association of Clinical Research Professionals and PharmaTimes Inc. for her leadership in clinical project management. Romiya is on the Board of Directors for Health Horizons International, a healthcare NGO serving communities in the Dominican Republic. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Follow @romiyagbarry

Posted by Romiya Barry on: March 08, 2017 09:18 PM | Permalink

Comments (16)

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Thank you. This helps to highlight the importance of closure - on all projects.

Closure is too often expedite
Thank you for posting

Thanks for sharing

Thank you, Andrew, for your comments. You are correct -- good PM practice is universal.

Thank you, Vincent. I agree with your comments. Sometimes we are in such an urgency to show completion or to move on to the next project that we may rush through this important step.

Thank you, Anupam, for reading the post. I hope it was informative.

Thank you for the information !

Thank you, Roch, for reading!

Sigh... Project closure is one of those things my organization is not good at. The biggest difficulty seems to be how to establish a repository for the history. I enjoyed the perspective from an NGO; I can really see why historical information would be important in that environment.

Hi Ken,

I think it's something many organizations fail to do. But, I've had to navigate through old projects several times going into new organizations and kept thinking it would all be easier if there was some final wrap up! Dissemination of information is lacking in many sectors.

I'm glad this information was helpful! Thank you for reading.

Great article. Thank you for sharing.

Great article. Thank you for sharing.

Hello Jess,

Thank you for reading! I hope this proves helpful in your welcome. Are there any other aspects to this I should consider adding?

Kind regards

Hi Romiya,

Aside from the above mentioned comments and steps you have provided, you still need to get a Formal Sign-Off from the client. This is a formal deocument that releases you from any liability from the delivered deliverables of the project and the deliverables are up to mark of the client's expectations.

Part of the Formal Sign-off also includes the final analysis of the product scope-whether it is up to mark or not; releasing and hand over of resources to the concerned department so they can use that for their next projects and contract closure for any sub contractors.

As the final stage, "celebrate" your success. You may organize a get together party with your stakeholders and team to make them feel valued and that they are part of the success.

Best regards,

Hi Jess,

I appreciate the additional insight. When I think in terms of NGOs, many times funding agencies comprised the majority of the stakeholders. Having the Formal Sign-off is a good way to support the completion of the grant-funded activities. Extending this to the community stakeholders, perhaps having community awareness events, final workshops, or organized focus groups is a way to get member checking and to have formal sign-off of the project deliverables.

I'm glad you added the point about celebrating the success. In our previous posts about building value in volunteer management (, this was something we tried to highlight.

It's good to hear from other perspectives; thank you for the feedback.

Kind regards,


Hi Romiya,

You are most welcome. Thank you for sharing the article.

Best regards,


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