Unleash Potential, Maximise Impact, Change the World

The Direct Impact Group exists for one clear purpose - to maximise our client’s social impact!

Our vision is to unleash potential, maximise impact and change the world.

We do this through working with organisations that see having a social impact as an important part of their work.

Whether you are a NGO or a business, philanthropic foundation or investor, we engage with clients in three core areas:

  • Getting your organisation future ready

  • Facilitating partnerships to scale impact

  • Accelerating impact through innovation and design

This approach is intentionally staged and completely focused on making our clients the most impactful organisations in the world.

In the dynamic world we all work in now, the line between a non-profit organisation and a business is becoming increasingly blurred. The expectations of staff, customers and investors or donors are that organisations will be able to demonstrate their social impact as clearly as they do their bottom line.

What now differentiates organisations is where they fit on a for-purpose to for-profit continuum. Getting your positioning right will be increasingly important to ongoing success.

The Sustainable Development Goals set the framework for the new way of working, where organisations from all across this for-purpose to for-profit continuum work together to address the world’s biggest challenges and open up new opportunities for growth.

Whatever your focus, the Direct Impact Group will deliver a tailored solution that recognises your unique needs and the impact you want to have.

Latest News

THE RISK OF DISREGARDING COVID19's AFTERMATH: Read our new survey about the impact of Covid-19 on local and International social impact organisations.
Opinion: Measure what matters — not just what's easy

What we measure really matters. But what matters most can often be the most difficult to measure.

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Our Values


We believe, genius is in the idea. Impact, however, comes from action

We acknowledge that the work of organisations seeking social impact is a positive driving force for the development of communities where everybody can achieve their full potential in harmony with the environment. Our work with organisations that engage in the development of social impact contributes to increasing the effectiveness of the change they seek.

We know what we are talking about

Our experience in civil society means we appreciate and identify with our clients purpose and mindset. We believe that one person alone cannot keep pace with the speed of innovation and change. Therefore we have a team of specialised experts who offer insight and understanding of new and frequent changes that are the daily reality of working to achieve meaningful social impact.

We believe it's not about us

We are facilitators of change. Understanding that our clients know their business best and that they know what change will make the most impact within their mandate we work alongside them to unlock these ideas and turn them into positive change!

We demonstrate that complex problems need simple solutions

The solutions that we provide are simple because in a dynamic world where skill sets vary considerably only simple solutions will get real results. It is much harder to provide clean and simple solutions but it is worth it!

Trusting relationships are not a matter of technique or tools but of character

We demonstrate and build respect for others, trustworthiness, as well as personal and professional integrity. While our initiatives are pinpointed and time limited, the relationships with our clients are long term oriented.

Our Partners


The Direct Impact Group is the result of the collaboration of consultants with experience in the civil society and the business sector. Together, the partners stand for more than 30 years of experience in leadership and management of international NGOs. Markus Hesse and Darren Ward gathered their extensive experience in the development of INGOs, in several years of consulting work for international consulting companies, but also the leadership of international organisations. In the Direct Impact Group they combine their shared enthusiasm for social impact. They stand for the quality and the group’s unique approach for consulting, facilitation and coaching.

Markus Hesse Europe Managing Partner
Darren Ward Australasia & Pacific Managing Partner
Markus Hesse Managing Partner

Markus combines more than 18 years of experience in senior and executive management of international civil society organisations with a track record as business consultant. He served as Vice President for Strategy and Finance of CBM International. Markus served as Board Member and Treasurer of Accountable Now (former INGO Accountability Charter), a cross-sectoral accountability framework working on human rights, sustainable development, environmental protection, humanitarian response, and anti-corruption. His educational background includes a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Business Coaching and Change Management. He is an author for the Euro-FH University in Hamburg for Change Management in Civil Society and a credited member of the European Association for Supervision and Coaching (EASC).

Darren Ward Managing Partner

Darren has over 15 years experience in senior leadership roles, including 7 years leading an international NGO. He also has over 10 years experience in NGO governance. His consulting focuses on strategy development, strategy execution, organisational development, change management and marketing alignment. Having served in a wide range of roles in both corporate and CSO organisations he has been part of significant change initiatives and organisational re-prioritisation. He has delivered significant performance across organisations of all sizes and stages of development. In addition to his consulting experience, he offers business coaching and provides strategic leadership to the Direct Impact Group in his role as managing partner. Darren has served on various NGO Boards and as a strategic advisor to Boards and management. He is managing the Australasian operations and is a managing partner of the Direct Impact Group.

Our Team


Our experienced team members have track records in the leadership of Civil Society Organisations. The Direct Impact Group is the result of the collaboration of consultants with experience in the civil society and the business sector. We are continuously developing our portfolio of consultants in the areas of Accountability Frameworks, Strategic Health Check, Change Management, and Strategic M&E. Today our portfolio includes consultants, living and operating in Asia, Australasia, East Africa, Europe and North America. Within the international Direct Impact Group, we offer our services in English, German, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Tamil. Our consultants are used to working on projects in virtual teams using web based collaboration tools, while having a liaison lead at the clients site, ensuring close and effective communication. This approach provides you with the opportunity to gain international expertise with different professional perspectives, while keeping your costs under control.

Our Memberships


Scanning The Horizon

Scanning the Horizon is a civil society platform for horizon scanning and strategic thinking, a dynamic community for peer exchange on trend analysis, strategic positioning and organisational adaptiveness. Through annual meetings, webinars and other activities, the community helps members spot and prepare for trends and potential disruption, build capacity and increase their impact. New and innovative ways of thinking are fostered, by engaging with a wide variety of experts from diverse sectors. It provides a space for strategists and trend analysts from non-profit organisations to network and benefit from peer learning and feedback. To learn more please see: https://icscentre.org/our-work/scanning-the-horizon/

Council For International Development

The Council for International Development (CID) is the national umbrella agency of international development organisations based in Aotearoa New Zealand. CID was formed in 1985 by a small group of development NGOs and aid agencies to coordinate some activities and present a single voice on issues of common concern. Today CID represents over 50 members, from small community based organisations to large international NGOs. CID is governed by a board made up of member organisations. For more information please see: https://www.cid.org.nz

Our Offices


Wilhelmstrasse 53,
64646 Heppenheim
+49 6252 9659280
Australasia & Pacific
New Zealand
PO Box 35-442,
Browns Bay,
Auckland 0753
+64 21 59 2020

Our Cooperation Partners

Partners for excellence

A Selection of our clients

It was the right decision for us to hand over this delicate assessment to the direct impact group.
Thanks for your excellent work and the excellent team which was assigned to do the interviews.

Erika Tschofönig
Head of Governance and Compliance
Light for the World

The Direct Impact team has been good friends to the Neglected Tropical Disease community and has worked with several organisations in this field. The DIGs teams understanding of the area and the interactions between the stakeholders have been very beneficial in developing strategies for individual groups and networks. Markus’ experience, energy and passion and ability to constructively challenge the norms has added great value and helped in the evolution of the field.

Dr Wendy Harrison
Executive Director
Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI), Imperial College London

The Direct Impact Group has been a fantastic facilitators of change at a time of rapid evolution and growth of our young social enterprise. The thoughtful, systematic and holistic approach has provided us with tools for change and continuous improvement. Change is always difficult, however the team has demonstrated empathy and experience which has been, and continues to be of great value to the whole team, and ultimately of benefit to us delivering our mission.

Dr Andrew Bastawrous
Co-Founder & CEO
Peek Vision ltd.

Direct Impact Group came in at a critical moment for Medical Teams International. They guided our team in Uganda towards a sense of clarity and extreme prioritization that has improved our collaboration and efficiency one hundred fold! The indicators speak for themselves. Now we all talk about where we want to go, how to get there, and how to measure our progress.

Andrew Hoskins
Country Director
Medical Teams International, Uganda

Direct Impact Group came during a time when we were having difficulty getting traction on a new strategy. Through their approach of understanding the views of staff and Board and the external environment we operated in they were able to identify where change was needed to deliver on our strategic objectives. Additional value was added as they assisted with implementation of these changes to imbed a new culture and operating model.

Sandra Budd
Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind
Accountable Now
Avocats Sans Frontières France
Association of Blind Citizens
Association of People with Disability
Caritas France
Caritas Italiana
Caritas Turkey
Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
Deaf Aotearoa
Employers and Manufacturers Association
European Disability Forum (EDF)
Freemasons Foundation
Inclusive New Zealand
International Civil Society Centre (ICSC)
International Coalition of Trachoma Control (ICTC)
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
International Trachoma Initiatie (ITI)
Light for the World
Malteser International
Manawanui in Charge
Medical Teams International
Neglected Tropical Disease NGDO Network
New Zealand Hearing Industry Association
Nia Technologies
Peek Vision Ltd.
Rangitane o Tamaki nui a Rua
Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI)
Secours Catholique
Serve - Solidarity in Action
Save the Children
St. Joseph Eye Hospital
Te Pou o te Whakaaro Nui
The Lucy Foundation
The Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind
The Salvation Army
Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Disease
University of Nairobi
Vision 2020
World Vision

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