The author writes that it is possible for NGOs to be “small and beautiful.” However, NGOs with too small a scope can encounter a number of barriers and restrictions to their development and effectiveness. In China, if a business has less than 300 employees and an annual turnover of less than 30 million RMB, it is classified as a “small business” but an NGO with more than 10 employees and an annual operating cost of more than 10 million RMB is seen as a mid-sized organisation.
The author suggests that two negative effects of NGOs having too small a scope are difficulties attracting talented workers and cultivating existing talent. Compared to multinational corporations, NGOs pay less, have a worse reputation and lack appropriate systems to train and develop their employees.
Additionally, because NGOs generally have limited staff, employees have to work in several different areas. This means that they are not able to specialise or gain expertise in any specific field, limiting their potential. This is especially true of NGO CEOs, many of whom hold positions in other industries. They often have to take responsibility for fundraising, project management, personnel and finance.
NGOs with limited scope have no time to solve social problems outside of specific projects, are prone to malpractice and inefficiency and have a limited capacity for innovation. The author finishes the piece by suggesting that this is a barrier not just to NGOs’ development, but for society to function properly in general.