The NGO Playbook: Scaling Internationally with EOR Solutions

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Atlas Team

Atlas helps innovative companies like yours to expand, onboard, manage and pay international teams in 160+ countries.

Published: 12 Feb 2024

Over the past two decades, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have rapidly expanded on an international scale in order to meet rising global demands. For example, London-based NGO, Save The Children, currently operates in around 120 countries, while Oxfam International, operates in more than 90 countries.  

According to a study from Precision Reports, the global NGO and Charitable Organisations market size was valued at over 300 billion US dollars in 2021 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.18% to reach over 500 billion dollars by 2027. 

Despite the success of these established organisations, few growing NGOs are equipped for the complexities of global expansion. Opening offices and hiring workers internationally brings considerable challenges around managing remote teams, navigating local cultures and labour laws, ensuring tax and payroll compliance, and minimising risks of non-compliance. 

Fortunately, partnering with an Employer of Record (EOR) can provide you with a turnkey global expansion solution. An EOR acts as a legal employer, handling compliance, payroll, and employee benefits across international borders so NGOs can focus on their core programs. Rather than building out complex local HR functions in each new target country, you can simplify cross-border compliance and payroll by strategically partnering with an EOR. 


Here’s how.  

1. Streamline your payroll and people management 

By acting as the global employer, EORs like Atlas can process local payrolls for employees in over 160+ countries while ensuring full compliance with local laws. This relieves you from wrestling with varying pay schedules, currency conversions, and complex regulations from country to country. 

You should also ensure that your potential EOR partner provides you with centralised dashboards for easy HR management globally, including employee documentation, leave management, and payroll tracking. 

2. Tap into Local Talent Pools 

EORs like Atlas can use their existing HR infrastructure to allow NGOs to tap into local talent pools and onboard employees in new countries or regions. 

Additionally, EORs can position your organisation as an attractive place by:  

  • Facilitating remote work for international employees 

  • Providing international equitable benefits 

  • Improving DEI within your organisation 

  • Providing localised and culturally-specific onboarding and employee support  

By leveraging an EOR partner to handle these employer responsibilities, you can more easily recruit vetted talent who values your charity’s mission. 

3. Simplify your employee onboarding 

Onboarding new employees internationally can be time-intensive and exhaustive if you’re trying to juggle accounting for work permits, deciphering local contracts, and conducting cultural training (among other things). However, EORs come equipped with proven global onboarding processes that will allow your new hires to get up and running quickly.  

Not only does this save you from having to learn the ins and outs of local employment laws, but it also gives your charity the freedom to rapidly expand its programs to new territories and start tapping into local talent pools. 

4. Ensure you’re compliant with local laws and mitigate risks 

EORs can also ensure that your organisation remains compliant with local employment legislation around hiring terms, payroll taxes, benefits, and employee terminations. By tapping into their local HR expertise in a given country or region, your EOR partner can keep up with frequently changing local laws and mitigates any compliance risks that are inherent in managing global teams. 

Their global legal and HR experts continuously cover nuances around local contracts, terminations, holidays, benefits, taxes, and more 

5. Scale flexibly  

Between payroll complexities, legal matters, HR system licensing costs, and personnel, managing global expansion independently can drain your resources fast. EOR solutions centralise these services to take advantage of economies of scale, ensuring that you can afford to expand into new countries and regions globally.  

Adding new team members in a new territory can be completed in days without having to waste time incorporating a new legal entity, improving your NGO's scalability. Not only does this flexibility let you remain nimble and responsive in your global aid programs, but it also gives you additional control over your costs and operational efficiency if you need to rapidly scale your operations up or down. 


Best practices for partnering with an EOR 

NGOs can ensure the success of their global expansion efforts by following these best practices for partnering with an Employer of Record. 

1. Conduct due diligence 

You should thoroughly vet your potential EOR partners on their service history, client satisfaction, global region expertise, tech stack capabilities, security protocols, and consulting support levels. This will allow you to gauge which providers present the best fit, capabilities, and chemistry to meet your organisation's needs. 

2. Define roles and responsibilities between the EOR and your NGO 

Typically, EORs cover legal, payroll, compliance, and recruitment facets, while NGOs manage program direction settings and team leadership. While some task overlap is common, defining each party’s role will ensure you’re getting the most out of your engagement with an EOR partner. 

3. Map Worker Classifications 

Classifying workers correctly as employees, independent contractors, or consultants is crucial for accurate payroll and compliance with local labour laws. You should work closely with your EOR on reviewing the status and treatment of your international workforce to ensure everything is being handled compliantly. Otherwise, employee misclassification can lead to penalties like back taxes, lawsuits, and potential fines for non-compliance. 

4. Set Up Reporting Procedures 

A good EOR partner like Atlas will help you implement reporting schedules for frequent payroll reconciliation, updates to local laws, and program analysis check-ins to ensure that both you and your EOR provider are up to date on the performance of your global programs. Reporting these changes on a regular basis helps prevent any unnecessary surprises and ensures both your NGO and the EOR provider are aligned on what’s happening in a given country or region. 

Scaling Operations Globally Requires the Right HR Partner 

By partnering with an EOR, NGOs gain simplified, standardised people operations across all their international teams and offices. This reduces friction when onboarding new hires, minimises the risk of non-compliance with local labour laws, and allows EORs to quickly expand into new countries and regions.  

Want to learn more about how an Employer of Record can help your NGO expand internationally? Download the guide below.

Or, you can contact us to start scaling your organisation internationally now.