Building skills in your NGO

Interviewing & counselling skills Handling information & computers
Improving English Organising training & managing activities

C O N T E N T S  

  1. Focus Group Discussions
  2. Interviewing & Counselling
  3. Information collection & Use
  4. Better Use of Your Computer
  5. How to Succeed in Your Work
  6. Improving the Staff’s English
  7. Organising Training
  8. Managing activities

1. Do your staff and volunteers need to run
Focus Group Discussions?

» Download our folder Key Information Sheet on Focus Group Discussions (KIS 2)

2. Do your staff and volunteers need
Interviewing & Counselling skills?

» Download folder Interviewing & Counselling at the Grassroots.
The manual tells you how to organise a training course with your workers and work through the contents – with checklists to ensure good standards.

3. Do they need to have skills in surveys, sampling,
information collection and interpretation of data?

» Download folder Information – Its collection and use throughout the Project Cycle

4. Do they need to learn to be better at
using computers?

» Download folder Better use of your computer
This manual will help you make the computer more available to the community, make both computer and the office more available to the disabled and can help improve your English.

5. Could your employees benefit from learning
techniques for all-round efficiency?

» Download folder How to Succeed in Your Work. This helps employees at an individual level with topics such as 'How to Assess Your Personality' and 'How to Help a New Colleague'.

6. Do you need to improving the Staff’s
English language skills?

Writing documents in English on the computer:

Most small NGOs need to present documents in English. If they are written for other local NGOs then it is perhaps less important if the English is not accurate – or so you think. But we at Networklearning get emails and documents that we sometimes cannot understand! Poor written English will handicap your work. Unchecked spelling means that you are inexperienced or careless. If you submit a project proposal to a big International NGO, and the English is unclear, you limit your chances. To get it right, what can you do?

Many programmes, like MS Word and Outlook, have an in-built ‘spell check’. Use it before printing your document or sending your email!

» How to use the spell-checker in MS Word

Writing important emails:

We recommend you do this in a Word document, use the spell-checker, and only then transfer the text to the email document.

The Type of English to use:

Decide, as an NGO, whether you will use US English or UK English, and set your choice as your spell checker’s default language.  

Grammar In MS Word:

You can also check and correct grammar. But this is not foolproof. Try to find someone with good English to do a final read of any important document. It is worth paying for this if it is a crucial document, such as your project proposal. (And always, always use the spell-checker!)

» How to check grammar in MS Word

Improving written English:

The only way to get people to speak and write better is to help them practice.

  • You can form a group to meet every week or two, and if you want the participants to take it seriously, perhaps it should be in office time. You will need a class organiser to decide content, download materials etc. This could be a rotating job.

  • Or you could look for a teacher who speaks English with a reasonable accent – one that English speakers from other cultures would understand. S/he would probably have to be paid.

  • Get hold of an English grammar book so people can practice the basics. Or use the internet. In Google, you can search for “English language exercises”.

    » The English Forum offers an online community of people studying English as a Second Language; it has interactive exercises, dictionaries and even whole books.
    » Or try the Online Writing Lab (OWL). Look for materials under 'English as a Second Language' (ESL).
    » Another site that is also fun is

Report writing:

» As participants get good enough to write reports, they should refer to our online guide, Guidelines for Writing Reports, or:

» Reporting Skills and Professional Writing Toolkit is a low-cost self-study programme consisting of 8 modules in PDF/html format offered by ELD Training. The Trainer Edition is supported by a complete Training Pack. You can sign up to their newslist in order to get free introductory modules for this and other toolkits.

Improving reading skills:

Perhaps the NGO can download and print a page or two of news every week to pass around the office. To find a national newspaper online go to Google and type in “Newspapers” and the name of your country.
» newspaper directory

Improving spoken English:

This is also important, so get the class to listen to English-language radios like the BBC, to watch videos, or sing songs. Have exercises that encourage fluency – for example people can take turns in making short presentations on work topics, cooking recipes, car repairs etc. As people improve they could make the kind of presentations they might make in a seminar with other NGOs. 

7. Do you need to acquire
skills in Organizing Training?

You can use the following Networklearning publications: 

» folder How to Run a Workshop

» folder Teaching for Better Learning - A guide for teachers of primary health care staff

» folder How to Succeed with Distance Education

8. What about
managing activities?

»  See folder On Being In Charge.
This is written for people working in the Health Field but the principles of management are the same whatever your discipline.
See Part II Chapter 2: Leading a (health) team/ 3: Organising (health) team activities/ 4: Controlling & assessing the work; Part IV Chapter 1: planning (health) activities; Chapter 2: Implementing (health) activities; Chapter 3: Evaluating (health) activities

» Download our folder Key Information Sheet, "Networking" (KIS 1)


Our NGO SKILLS section gives some essential information and recommended links to more

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