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How to Hire NGO Workers Overseas

How to hire NGO workers overseas

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with Horizons in
180+ countries

Key Takeaways

1. “NGO” stands for Non-Governmental Organization. The purpose of an NGO is to address social or political issues such as humanitarian, political crises, and environmental problems.

2. NGOs usually run on a non-profit basis meaning they typically rely on certain funding and volunteer workers. Non-Governmental Organizations rely on various sources of funding such as private or charitable donations, memberships, selling goods and merchandise, and grants from local or international governments. As a result, they have tight budgets and don’t necessarily have the resources to go through large recruitment campaigns to hire NGO workers.

3. NGO workers often need to have specific qualities and skills in order to work well within the organization and often have to wear many different hats. This is why it is sometimes tricky to find the right people. 

4. There are a number of ways in which an NGO can hire an NGO worker, such as hiring contractors, setting up a subsidiary, or engaging a global PEO solution.

What is an NGO?

An “NGO” is a Non-Governmental Organization which refers to the fact that it operates separately from any government, though like a governmental organization, it has a public purpose. An NGO’s public purpose is usually to address social or political issues such as humanitarian crises and environmental problems. They run on a non-profit basis and are, therefore, also known as a ‘non-profits’. 

NGOs often have a large role in helping international development, aid, and philanthropy. They rely on different sources of funding such as private or charitable donations, memberships, selling goods and merchandise, and grants from local or international governments. 

Hire NGO employees fast with Horizons EOR services.

Examples of major NGOs include:

  • Red Cross 
  • Greenpeace
  • World Wildlife fund 
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature 
  • Oxfam 
  • Amnesty International. 

Recruitment for NGOs often works differently than recruitment for private for-profit companies. This is because NGO workers tend to have a passion or interest in the specific purpose of the NGO, which may be economic, political, social, or environmental-related. 

In addition, due to the limited budget that NGOs tend to have and the way in which they acquire funds, it is likely that recruitment budgets and resources are limited. Therefore, discovering highly-skilled talent is made more difficult.

As a further challenge, NGOs often rely heavily on volunteer staff, which can mean that the turnover rate is high due to people coming and going, and competition for paid work is therefore high

What is the best way to hire NGO workers overseas?

When a company needs to hire NGO workers or non-profit workers there are a few alternative options that can be considered.

For many companies, it is important to provide a positive employee experience when recruiting for roles, therefore it is important to think carefully about the way in which the NGO worker is hired. 

Options include:

  • Contractors
  • When hiring NGO employees, organizations may look at hiring contractors as it is a convenient way of hiring people fast and may lower overheads  Additionally, by hiring contractors, organizations will not need to provide employee benefits such as holiday entitlements, or pension contributions.
  • Hiring contractors can come with some risks, however,  such as possible employee misclassification or disguised employment. Misclassification is where an independent contractor is hired as a contractor, but is being treated as an employee. The business may do this knowingly or unknowingly: They could do this by providing certain benefits to a contractor that employees would usually receive, or requiring the contractor to work in certain conditions or at certain times.
  • Employee misclassification can result in major back-payments and penalties, and therefore it is important that NGOs avoid incorrectly classifying someone as a contractor when they mean to engage an employee.
  • Set up subsidiaries overseas
  • Another way that NGOs can hire NGO employees is by establishing an overseas entity or subsidiary. For small businesses or for NGOs that have limited budgets and rely on donations, it may not be feasible to put resources into setting up a subsidiary overseas.
  • Not only this, but it is also time-consuming to set up a subsidiary, and requires compliance with complicated laws in the country of set up. 
  • Employer of Record/PEO
  • A global PEO or a global Employer of Record solution is a third party company that takes responsibility for HR duties such as payroll, employment tax, employment benefits and contributions, and recruitment in overseas jurisdictions.
  • Employees of the NGO will still work for the particular organization, however, the PEO will act on the company’s behalf and will technically be classed as the employee’s legal employer. A global PEO can be an ideal solution for NGOs, as an international PEO will have expertise in international recruitment, international compliance, and can save the NGO substantially on recruitment and compliance costs. 


At Horizons, we are able to hire NGO workers from around the world. This can be a great solution for NGOs as our expertise saves time, money, and mitigates the compliance risks of overseas hire. 

Please contact us to find out how to hire NGO workers overseas quickly, cost-effectively, and in full compliance with the law. 

Frequently asked questions

There are a number of ways in which an NGO can hire an NGO worker. Many Non-governmental organizations go online to advertise and search for suitable workers. Many NGOs look to their volunteers when searching for paid workers in hope of finding interested candidates who already work for the organization. Additionally, many companies instruct a recruitment agency or global PEO to assist in the recruitment process. This is usually because NGOs may not have time or resources to identify suitable candidates and recruiters have expertise in the field. They often know what to look for and may have contacts available already.

NGOs can get usually be paid through all the usual methods such as checks, wire transfers, SWIFT transfers or digital payment services (e.g., Paypal or payoneer).

Note, where an NGO worker is based in a country that has limited banking services, there may be some restrictions on payment options.

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