How a Project Management Office can help a charity
Often Project Management offices (PMO) are not taken seriously in the charity sector, learn why is it important.


A PMO is the spinal cord that holds all the projects together and ensures their delivery and success. It is often perceived as a “corporate thing.” Depending on the size of a charity a project management office can contribute immensely to the social objectives of the charity.  In case it is a mid-sized and small charity it doesn’t have to create a full-fledged PMO! A small team or just a two-person team who has a good grasp of project management and agile management methodologies, and most importantly a team which is abreast of new trends, can still deliver wonderful results. If it is a multinational charity, a dedicated project management office which is agile and resourceful can contribute to its success. It ensures proper governance and organisation, efficient prioritisation and planning as well as realistic resource allocation and training. Let us explore very briefly how a project management office can be useful to a charity.

Proper governance and organization

Good governance consists of good relationship with / between the board members and trustees, organised structures and procedures, well defined roles and responsibilities and good engagement from trustees. An agile and resourceful PMO can put in place project governance mechanisms such as project sponsors, project review meetings, steering committees, project demand management…..etc. Effective governance and proper organisation is not only for high income multinational charities but can also benefit low income small charities.

Efficient Prioritisation and planning 

It is important for charities to prioritize projects and tasks according to their speciality, available resources, constraints, and context to launch and execute meaningful projects which has real impact in the community. This is where a project management office comes into the scene. A PMO can put in place software, tools and techniques with a proper decision-making matrix which includes a set of criteria and a scoring system that allows to analyse and evaluate potential projects according to the vision and mission of the charity.

Realistic resource allocation and training

Resources, especially human resources, are the life-blood of any charity. So, one of the major challenge for a charity is to prioritize these important projects across all departments and back them up with labour, material or financial resources so that it attains the organizations’ goals. A project management office can ensure that the resources have the right skill set by imparting training according to the needs and goals of the charity. Apart from skillset development and training, the next step for a PMO is to implement the project portfolio management discipline for realistic resource allocation.

Another area where a PMO can play an important role in charities is project knowledge transfer. Since volunteer turnover is high in any charity, efficient project knowledge transfer is necessary for the proper functioning of all projects.

Without a project management office (PMO) a charity can end up launching projects before they have been clearly scoped or approved by the trustees or board members according to the charity’s goal. The lack of support and professional help from a PMO can lead to unrealistic deadlines, resources overload, inadequate engagement from stakeholders, unsupportive project sponsors not understanding what the role entails, misinterpreted communications and uncollaborative environment. Therefore, impeding a charity with noble goals to bring impactful and positive social change. Hence, a dedicated and skilful PMO can propel a charity to great heights to fulfil its global mission.