VSA must “do development differently” to survive and thrive

Published on 27th November 2012

VSA needs to be innovative and courageous and respond quickly to new challenges and opportunities if it wants to survive and thrive for another 50 years, according to new CEO Gill Greer.


Gill outlined her views about the challenges facing NGOs working in development following the global financial crisis in her speech to VSA’s annual Congress in Wellington on November 9.


She said the austerity measures being introduced by donor governments, and the greater demand for accountability, means that NGOs are having to learn how to “do development differently” as they compete for limited funding.



“As the grants of the past become contracts we must recognise the reality of the mantra of ‘value for money’, effectiveness and efficiency, of results-based management, of indicators, outputs and outcomes, that will require a far longer time-frame than the lifetime of a government,” she said.


“But while we may question ‘short termism’, and we can know, like Einstein, that ‘Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted, counts,’ we must also recognise that this is the reality.”


Gill acknowledged the leadership and work of her predecessor, Debbie Snelson, and of the Council, in bringing VSA through a critical and challenging time. She told Congress that in order to survive VSA must now find a way of maintaining the integrity, brand and reputation it has built up over the last 50 years while responding to the challenges of the future in ways that are entrepreneurial, strategic and effective.


“We will need to be increasingly innovative and courageous in order to respond quickly and effectively to new opportunities. Only then can we continue to make sure that VSA is relevant, responsive and resilient.”


That means VSA must actively pursue new business opportunities, build new partnerships and find new sources of funding. She also urged Congress participants to do their bit by spreading the word about VSA’s work.


“Some of this can be achieved by each of us becoming a VSA champion, by telling the story of VSA’s last 50 years to our families, friends and colleagues, and by telling the collective story of how some 3500 volunteers from New Zealand have made an extraordinary difference – and how together we want to make sure that thousands more can do the same in the future.”


Feedback on Gill’s speech was very positive, with Congress participants describing it as inspirational, insightful, astute and thoughtful.


“The content was appropriately strategic,” said one returned volunteer. "It gave a context, both nationally and internationally, for issues facing VSA in a changing environment.”


Download the full text of Gill Greer’s speech here.


No one has commented on this page yet.

Post your comment

Read more: education in the Pacific

Read more: education in the Pacific

Read more about how VSA volunteers are working to strengthen education in the wider Pacific and Asia.

Read more

Donate to VSA

It costs money to send volunteers overseas and every dollar you donate to VSA goes towards programmes that really do work.

Donate now!

Become a volunteer

Register with VSA to find out about new vacancies. Or if you are already registered, login to update your details.

Volunteer now!