Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) take the form of corporations and unincorporated associations. While specific missions vary, NGOs generally assist, bring relief to, and advocate for those facing poverty, homelessness, illiteracy, unemployment and other barriers to a solid quality of life. To accomplish their goals, NGOs turn to project managers to guide their activities and initiatives. This article will provide a brief summary of the NGO project manager job description.

What Does an NGO Project Manager Professional Do?

As with their counterparts in business or construction, NGO project managers oversee a project from its genesis to completion. Given the nature of NGOs, the project manager must expend more time and effort in convincing donors and other stakeholders of the merits of the project and procuring donations. The job duties of an NGO project manager involve public speaking and communication skills. As well as talents in analysis, relating to many interest holders, and managing workers.

ngo project manager job description

NGO Project Manager Job Description for Resume – Responsibilities

  • Identify activities, timeline, and order for completion of the project.
  • Determine personnel, supplies, equipment, and other resources needed for the project.
  • Assist in establishing criteria and measurables for success or completion of the project.
  • Engage other agencies, businesses, donors, and stakeholders to financially support and publicize project or initiative.
  • Select workers, including paid staff, and volunteers for the project.
  • Supervise training of project workers on activities to be performed and other aspects of the project.
  • Ensure that volunteers or staff obtain any necessary passports or other travel documents for overseas projects.
  • Monitor progress of project stages and determine and implement any necessary changes.
  • Record data on project work, such as expenditures, time to complete tasks, attendance at events and people served.
  • Report project progress and results to Board of Directors or program manager.

NGO Project Manager Job Essential Skills

Analytical Skills. Project management requires analytical skills to assess the scope, the resources needed and the success of the project. Also, NGO project managers must interpret data on the project. As well as the needs or views of the people being helped or donors solicited to support the project.

Interpersonal Skills. The NGO project manager job description entails that this professional must be able to respond effectively and with acknowledgment on the stakeholders’ numbers and the NGO project. The interests of stakeholders often differ and may come into conflict. Moreover, interpersonal skills include the ability to report and receive suggestions. As well as concerns and other comments from project volunteers and workers, supervisors, directors and members of the NGO.

Public Relations Skills. NGO project managers need skills in communicating clearly, crafting statements carefully, answer questions or otherwise inform the public and others about projects or the NGO. Skills in public relations also consist of highlighting the benefits and reasons for the project. And presenting convincing arguments for sometimes controversial stands. Also, NGO project managers should be able to lead staff and volunteers in telling influential and moving stories about those benefiting from a project.

Technological Skills. The tools of an NGO project manager consist heavily of PowerPoint, word processors, publishing software and other applications. They are all used to present plans, reasons for the project, and benefits. Often, success stories are told with images and video presentation more than written reports. NGO project managers also need skills in using social media in order to post videos and images. As well as narratives about the purposes of the project and those helped.

How to Become an NGO Project Manager Professional

A college education affords NGO project managers the knowledge and skills to manage organizations and their activities. Many of these managers come from the business or government ranks, especially where they have overseen staffs, departments or projects. However, familiarity with and dedication to the cause and those to be helped are characteristics of the NGO project manager job description. For example, a project manager for an environmental advocacy organization should immerse himself or herself in a curriculum and work that involves environmental protection.

Education & Training Requirements

As a general rule, NGO project managers must have a bachelor’s degree. The major and curriculum will turn in many instances on the organization and its mission. While in a healthcare nonprofit, preferred majors may include biology, public health or health administration. NGO project managers in organizations that advocate for sustainable infrastructures or living might earn degrees in physical or earth science, biology or engineering.

Other helpful majors include sociology, psychology, and social services. Those with a business administration or business management degree, coupled with experience with NGOs, can also attract these organizations seeking people to fit their NGO project manager job description. Prospective NGOs should also have some foreign language experience and take classes that cover international affairs or cultures.

Work Experience

Many NGOs seek project managers who have served in the organizations’ field of work. For example, those in humanitarian organizations should have prior experience as a relief or aid worker. Or working on a team that publicizes the organizations’ humanitarian efforts or involvement with charities or donation drives. Education-based NGOs may seek teachers, especially those who have taught in rural schools, “disadvantaged” or “troubled” schools or in remote areas.

A work history in marketing or communications demonstrates the ability to promote projects to donors or to government bodies from whom the NGO might seek funding. Other helpful jobs, whether paid or as a volunteer, including grant writing, construction in remote areas, distribution of relief supplies, and counseling.

The specific positions an applicant may tout should be tailored to the type of NGO and its primary sphere of work or mission. Organizations that concentrate on particular countries or regions may prefer applicants who have lived or worked in the country or region.

Work Schedules

NGO project managers often work in excess of traditional daytime hours and weekdays. Evenings may be spent at meetings before the NGO boards and at events, such as tutoring or feeding, which form part of the project. The approach of deadlines may necessitate overtime, late hours or weekends.

Project managers of humanitarian efforts may have to locate in foreign countries or remote areas for extended weeks and months. Travel constitutes a significant part of the NGO project manager job description.

Career Prospects

NGOs depend upon funding from governments, and donations by individuals, foundations, and businesses. As a result, the availability of project manager openings will depend upon available funds. And the appetite of donors and the organizations for projects. The health of the economy and the popularity of the organization or its social and political stands can spur or stunt donations and funds.

Well-recognized and long-standing NGOs afford the best opportunities for candidates since these organizations have cultivated the trust and prominence needed for sustained financial support.


Finally, NGO project managers rely on their management, technological and persuasive skills to spark interest in the organization’s goals and projects. Becoming a professional who can advance the organization’s missions requires a firm grasp of advocacy, the issues the organization addresses and the people or areas being helped. College degrees and work experience furnish managers with the practical skills and knowledge needed to better individuals and the environment.