Project Description

Action Aid International (AAI) engaged me to conduct a study of their governance structure vis a vis other similar organizations and recommend changes in order to better integrate its global stakeholders, including affiliates and associates.  AAI was one of the first international NGOs to move from having its headquarters in the “Global North” (London) to the “Global South” (Johannesburg) and were looking to align their internal structure with these greater global equity goals.

My work is very customized so the initial stages of the engagement was learning about AAI and how it currently operates.  The initial engagement was to develop recommendations for a new governance structure and help with an implementation plan. This was done via primary research – interviews with other organizations and AAI representatives – as well as in consultations with the lead volunteer committee.

During the year period of my work with AAI, in addition to this initial engagement I was also asked to develop and conduct a two day training workshop of the board chairs of AAI’s affiliate groups on leadership and governance.

The final deliverable was a report to the Board on the new governance structure that I submitted and discussed with them in person.  After a period of consultation with its affiliates, the new recommended governance structure was adopted.

The new structure has helped to ‘shift the power’ and decentralize the AAI federation, with the number of full affiliate members from the Global South having increased significantly and with regional hubs in five locations in addition to Johannesburg.  All countries now undertake a self-assessment to improve their local work and accountability under four models of presence. The Board and General Assembly have continuing discussions on how to manage power inequities.

This project included assistance with:

  • Organizational development
  • Recommendations on governance structure
  • Training of governance stakeholders

“Bonnie worked with ActionAid International as the lead consultant for a year assisting us in a project about developing alternative future governance models and structures. We were lucky to have Bonnie help us. She is an expert of high level when it comes to governance matters! She proved an outstanding facilitator of very culturally mixed groups, with great listening skills, patience and clarity of thought.”

Ramesh Singh, former Chief Executive, ActionAid International