NGO’s & Philanthropy

The goal of the OLBIOS Advisory Group is to help you ask the right questions, raise awareness and inform you on the ethical issues you are confronted with, using ethics not as a constraint machine but as a basis for a stronger, deeper, more conscious and creative approach to your field.



Define precisely why to give,when, to whom, how and for how long.

How your giving can do long-term good.

Avoid momentous decisions vs strategy and commitment.

Generate favorable publicity.

Set an example to be imitated by others.

Improve or recreate your own image and that of your company.

Work with other philanthropists internationally.

Attract global players from all fields of society to your cause.

Define the proportion of your wealth that you wish to give away.

Study efficiency: no bigger challenge than to achieve more with less.

Preserve the dignity of the individual(s) receiving your gift.

Study the principles of “New philanthropy” and business models as a guide.

Discover why there is a golden age of philanthropy upon us.

Improve your performance on the different aspects of the necessary philanthropic consulting: fundraising / executive search / capital campaigns / feasibility studies / marketing communications.

Be fully informed of the variety and specifics of philanthropic approaches: grants/ social investments / consulting / operating and educational programs / technical assistance / advocacy.

Study why resources and time is not enough, and why foundations, even the most powerful, can fail.

Take in consideration the philanthropy disasters as warnings.

Build partnerships and use convening power.

Gain insights on Strategic, Market-conscious, Impact-oriented, Knowledge-based, High-engagement, Catalytic philanthropy.

Ask yourself if philanthropy can change the way that your business itself operates.

Calculate your potential impact.

Be aware that the public hold philanthropists to account and that governments can ask for the philanthropist’s help; be prepared for both.

Learn lessons about investments that did not work as intended.

Learn from other Foundations.

See how not to mismatch your reach and resources.

Avoid overreaching but also underperformance, as well as over-ambition.

Study the six golden ages of philanthropy.

Why 90% of the global rich do not give anything to philanthropic causes? and how can you be the leader of change on this issue in your country?

Avoid the common wrong assumptions by foundations.

Unify and organize a family theme and take action.

Fully realize why charity and voluntary activity is a source of genuine, unique joy.

Avoid abuse of self-serving gifts.

Be warned when losing focus and about untested ideas.

Decide if ultra-secretive philanthropy is your real choice.

Create links between elites, multiply sources of power.

Know the full facts and have profound understanding of the sector(s) in which you are active.

Realize the importance and functioning of leverage.

Answer the formulary of the 100 questions every foundation has to ask itself.

Choose your field(s) by clearly distinguishing service functions from expressive functions.

Learn everything about mutual aid societies, pooled funds, donor collaborations, federated campaigns, hometown associations, religious congregations.

Work together with NGOs and Cos.

Find out the (few) good new ideas for philanthropists.

See your options on transparency issues and communication strategies.

Overcome the “besetting sins” of foundations : arrogance, discourtesy, inaccessibility, arbitrariness, failure to communicate, dragging-out of the grant-making process, low payment, the”foundation attention deficit disorder”, short-term behavior, faddism, herd mentality.

Choose if you wish to target symptoms or causes.

Study carefully the technicalities of giving.

Be aware of the different philanthropy models (The Anglo-Saxon Model / Nordic Welfare States / European-Style Welfare Partnerships / Latin American Model / Asian Industrialized/ the Traditions in Africa / Central and Eastern Europe / Middle East philanthropy).

Study the international agenda and the prospects on the future of philanthropy.

Receive what all modern philanthropists need: more research and standardized data / promotion and growth of the practice of philanthropy / new leaders / more impact / conducive environments / capacity building and training.


How can NGOs get their moral priorities straight? How to distinguish NGOs who are merely self-serving bureaucracies?

Why are many NGOs reluctant to specialize or focus their resources? Why is the illusion so strong that fairness requires them to spread their aid across a range of geographical areas? Can intrinsic concern for “group welfare” lead us astray?

Should NGOs seek to maximize well-being without regard for group affiliations or any misguided desire to be “egalitarian” in one’s aid across groups?

Why is it that NGOs are so reluctant to abandon a project even if it is obvious that it is progressing worse than expected, and why do they tend to withdraw only after it becomes undeniable that they are doing more harm than good? The “sunk cost” fallacy and the lack of flexibility.

Is there a more accountable business of beneficence needed, reporting not only on money expended but also on the efficiency of the projects?

What does equal consideration for the interests of all citizens require? Should we maximize utility without concern for its distribution?

Is “prioritisation” a trap? Should we not give equal consideration to all people but greater consideration to the worse-off? Do they deserve to be compensated? What is explicit favouritism, non-interference and “thin formal freedom”?

Should we nurture excellence instead of support, so that humanity might achieve its potential?

Does the negative import of suffering outweigh the positive value of others’ flourishing? Is the flourishing or suffering of others indifferent?

How should the four characteristics of NGOs be articulated? How are they voluntary, independent within the laws, not-for-profit but still engaged in revenue-generating activities, and not self-serving in aims and related values while trying to improve circumstances and prospects?

Is it always obvious which sector an organization belongs to? Business, government and third sector; does the latter provide services that the business and government sectors are unwilling or unable to provide?

Is the essential function of an NGO to be a facilitator of citizens’ participation in their societies? How can they promote understanding between citizens and the state?

How could NGOs promote pluralism, diversity and tolerance in society while protecting and strengthening cultural, ethnic, religious, linguistic, and other identities?

Do NGOs motivate citizens, in all aspects of social life, to act rather than depend on state power and beneficence?

Is it true that NGOs create an alternative to centralized state agencies and provide services with greater independence and flexibility?

Do NGOs increase “social capital” by providing people with opportunities to build trust in each other and the capacity to work together toward common goals?

What constitutes a civil society and why does it vary from culture to culture?

What do effective partnerships between NGOs and/or businesses and government require?

Studying some spectacular successes in urgent humanitarian intervention, denunciation of ecological disasters and defense of human rights.

The NGOs’ role in inventing concepts that become dominant among the political class and in finance.

Presence of NGOs in all major international negotiations (and in the elaboration of a number of national legislations).

Consequences of NGOs possessing means of moral constraint, applied to themselves and international organisations, without the inconveniences of explaining themselves to voters.

How the largest NGOs are or could become real « multinationals of ethics » and federations of powerful national sections.

NGOs as evaluating powers: charts, codes, declarations, best practices, certifications.

Why do people turn to NGOs when they need an “honest” evaluation or a “good conduct” certificate?

NGOs as sources of expertise, playing the role of vigilantes responsible for detecting risks, actual or in the future, and why this role can expand to include establishing the agenda for international action.

Deciding what is going to be debated and what will vanish in media silence as a crucial form of power.

Corporations, and the ways they are actually financing NGOs and exchanging information, incorporating their principles in their management processes in the form of criteria, guides or codes that they undertake to follow and apply.

General adherence to the utopia of global village and “withoutborderism”.

Can the success of NGOs be explained as contemporary individualism reposing on the notion of voluntaries adaptable to every person?

Can individuals take a stand as to an ethical cause wherever and whenever they want, without reference to a doctrine or an ideology or a system of principles?

Do NGOs participate in a movement in favour of a global governance implying the substitution of old Nation-State norms by direct application of transnational norms?

Do NGOs only represent themselves, or their ideal, rather than real people? Are they merely positing endless moral demands without having any political responsibility?

The increased scrutiny of NGOs.

Expansion in the number, size and influence of International NGOs involved in international relief and development: – Should these INGOs attempt to provide emergency assistance even when doing so risks helping fuel further conflict? – How should INGOs manage differences between their values and those of the people they seek to benefit? – How open and honest should they be about their own uncertainties and failures?

On NGOs’ self-regulation. Who is monitoring the monitors?

What is impact? Compromise? Collective harm? Respect?

The need to form new creative-unexpected alliances to successfully impact change.

Exploring standards, statements, guiding principles, codes of Non-profit and Philanthropy organizations and their differences.

Challenges and risks in NGO case studies.

Is NGO superiority a myth? Do they always tend to mirror their governments’ interests?

Measuring the impact of NGO operations. The tsunami-related confusion in Indonesia and the competition for help by 400 NGOs and UN organizations.

Suspicions on Paternalism, the “charity and pity” spirit, and the neo-colonial attitude of NGOs in Africa. Excluding citizens from policy-making. On pretended Neutrality.

Fake NGOs, fronts for illegal operations.

A history of using NGOs to exploit economic opportunities or to counter hostile political ideologies.

The problem of government-dependent non-governmental organizations.

How and why many of the world’s worst crises remain off the international agenda.

How NGOs could choose which international issues to devote time to, due to limited resources and “internal needs”, such as pleasing funders.

The issue of how victims must “sell” themselves to NGOs.

An exploration of the WANGO Code of Ethics.

NGO accountability issues.

NGOs as a sector in flux, facing a situation of increasing responsibilities, higher public expectations, but limited resources. Their phenomenal growth and the creation of thousands of new one-issue groups.

Are NGOs really able to address effectively and resolve major problems such as persistent poverty/ increasing inequality / entrenched racism /political corruption / corporate greed)?

The failure of citizens to become involved in civic life.

The necessity of turning to profit-making businesses and other commercial ventures for income. Growing commercialization and corporatization of the sector, creating erosion of non-profit values and mission, and raising the question of non-profits’ tax responsibilities.

Studying the part of the sector that is still unaccountable and plagued by excessive compensation /€“ self-dealing /€“ high trustee fees / corruption /€“ inappropriate expenditures /€“ inadequate disclosure and thus in danger of losing public trust.

On the successes of the sector: new effective programs and initiatives, spread of new community organizing and service groups. Victories of local and regional advocacy organizations on environment, health and welfare reform issues.

The serious lack of Leadership in the sector.

The lack of advocacy: reluctance to exercise the sector’s enormous potential for legal/legislative activity. On poor lobbying at all levels of government.

Is it true that only activism and not services can win the big battles on issues important to non-profits (poverty, lack of health protection, gun violence, democracy)?