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10 Traits of a Successful NGO Employee

by Minoas Vitalis
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Working for a non-governmental organisation (NGO) can be both challenging and rewarding. It is often a demanding job, but it can also be very fulfilling to help others in need. There are certain qualities that are essential for anyone who wants to have a successful career as an NGO employee. Here are ten of the most important ones:

  1. They have a passion for social justice.

This is probably the most important trait of all. NGO workers need to be driven by a desire to make the world a better place. If they don’t believe in what they’re doing, it will be difficult to stay motivated.

  1. They’re good at networking.

NGOs rely on partnerships and collaborations to get things done. So, successful NGO employees are usually pretty good at networking and building relationships with others.

  1. They’re adaptable.

The NGO world is constantly changing, so successful employees need to be able to adapt to new situations. They should also be comfortable with ambiguity and be able to roll with the punches.

  1. They have a global perspective.

Since NGOs often work on international issues, it’s helpful if their employees have a global perspective. This doesn’t mean they need to be fluent in multiple languages, but they should at least be open to working with people from different cultures.

  1. They’re organised.

NGOs are often short-staffed and have limited resources, so it’s important that their employees are organised and can prioritise tasks effectively. This includes being able to manage multiple deadlines and projects at once.

  1. They’re good communicators.

NGOs need to be able to communicate their message clearly, both internally and externally. Successful NGO employees are usually good writers, speakers, and negotiators.

  1. They have strong people skills.

Since much of an NGO worker’s job involves interacting with others, it’s helpful if they have strong people skills. This includes being able to build relationships, resolve conflicts, and motivate others.

  1. They’re creative.

Given the limited resources that NGOs often have to work with, creativity is a valuable skill for NGO employees to have. This means being able to come up with innovative solutions to problems and think outside the box.

  1. They’re resilient.

Working in an NGO can be challenging, so it’s important that employees are resilient and have a good support system. This includes being able to deal with stress, setbacks, and rejection.

  1. They’re committed.

Last but not least, successful NGO employees are usually committed to their work and believe in what they’re doing. They understand that change takes time and are willing to stick with it for the long haul.

Is working for an NGO effective?

NGOs can be very effective at achieving their goals, but it depends on the specific organisation. Some NGOs are more successful than others, and there are a variety of factors that contribute to this. Overall, though, NGOs provide an important and necessary service in the world. They often fill the gaps where governments and businesses fall short, and they can be a powerful force for change.

What are some popular NGOs?

There are thousands of NGOs around the world, so it’s difficult to narrow it down to a few. Some of the more popular ones include Amnesty International, Oxfam, Greenpeace, and Doctors Without Borders. These organisations all have different missions, but they share a common goal of making the world a better place.

Do you have to be qualified to work for an NGO?

It depends on the specific organisation, but most NGOs require their employees to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some also prefer candidates who have experience in the nonprofit sector or a related field. However, there are many NGOs that are willing to train employees with the right skills and attitude.

What are the benefits of working for an NGO?

There are many benefits to working for an NGO, both personal and professional. These organisations often offer employees the opportunity to travel, learn new skills, and make a difference in the world. They also tend to be more flexible than traditional businesses, which can be appealing to some people. In addition, working for an NGO can help you build your resume and network with other like-minded individuals.

Do NGOs pay well?

It depends on the specific organisation, but most NGOs do not pay as well as traditional businesses. This is because they often have limited resources and funding. However, many people are willing to work for an NGO because they believe in its mission. In addition, some NGOs offer employees other benefits, such as health insurance and paid vacation days.

Are there downsides to working for an NGO?

There are a few downsides to working for an NGO. First, the pay is often not as high as it is in the private sector. Second, NGOs can be very demanding, and employees often have to work long hours. Finally, NGOs are often under a lot of public scrutinies, so there is always the possibility of negative publicity. Despite these drawbacks, though, many people find that the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to working for an NGO.


NGO work is often challenging and demanding, but it can also be very rewarding. The 10 traits we’ve outlined will help you succeed in your role as an NGO employee. If you can cultivate these qualities within yourself, you’ll be well on your way to a successful career with an NGO. Are there any other qualities that you think are essential for success in this field? Let us know in the comments below.

Minoas graduated with a Merit upon studying the full-time MPA Public Administration – International Development degree (MPA-ID) at the University of York. He is currently working as a freelance EU affairs consultant in Belgium.
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