The study on the Impact of Governance on Organizational/Institutional Effectiveness was undertaken with the aim of contributing to enhanced program and institutional effectiveness of Nigerian health programming CSOs. To this effect, the study focused on the relationship between governance and organizational/institutional effectiveness, governance practices of health programming organizations/institutions in Nigeria, capacity building interventions provided by donor organizations and intermediary capacity building organizations like MSA in this area, as well as success stories and best practices where they existed.


The study relied on both primary and secondary sources. Primary data were gathered through interviews and questionnaire administration, while secondary data were gathered from project reports, published books and articles. The eventual report is divided into three parts comprising: literature review, governance survey, and governance success stories.

The literature review examined the key concepts of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governance, good governance, as well as organizational/institutional effectiveness. The key characteristics of NGOs were identified to center around their flexibility and ability to respond quickly and directly to development and humanitarian needs with the aim of achieving positive change and societal development. Governance was explained to exist in several contexts including corporate, public, and non-profit governance. Reviewed literature showed that whereas, corporate and public governance have received attention and research, attention to non-profit governance trails behind the other two due to several reasons including the fact that NGOs activities hitherto were deemed insignificant compared to business and government operations. Thus, impetus to regulate the sector, especially in Africa including Nigeria was low.

Findings from the study showed that the governance of Nigerian NGOs including health programming NGOs witnessed an initial period of ceremonial boards and periods of board building interventions. These resulted into empowered boards who gradually assumed governing roles in their various organisations. Similarly, questions are also being asked on the twin issues of NGO effectiveness and accountability. These are categorized under

  • Effectiveness of NGOs as social service delivery agents in terms of the quality and quantity of services delivered.
  • Independence and reliability of organizational structures of NGOs including composition of boards, financial accounting, management structures, compensation policies, personnel policies etc.
  • Legitimacy issues in terms of the representative status of NGOs, the relationship to the community served and the value base of the NGOs.

Overall, there is a link between effective governance and NGO organizational/institutional effectiveness, where NGO boards serve as the checks and balances that ensure appropriate systems and policies that enhance organizational growth and vibrancy are put in place and enforced. This then is the crux of the study findings vis-à-vis the fact that health programming NGO boards in Nigeria, and indeed, perhaps, NGO boards in Nigeria generally, though knowledgeable about their roles and responsibilities, are still very lame in their governing role. As presently constituted, especially where Founders/Executive Directors who nominated them on the board are at the helm of affairs, most boards play minimal advisory roles, and are reluctant to exert their authority as governing bodies in the fear of being accused of ‘hijacking’ the organization from the founder.

Continued capacity building interventions therefore are required on a two pronged basis: empowering board members to be truly governing, and sensitizing NGO Chief Executives on the symbolic and functional values of effective governance as a mechanism for ensuring their organizations outlive them, and continue to render valuable and cutting edge services to their target beneficiaries.

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