ID NGOs are project-based organizations faced with a number of developmental issues.•
Social and knowledge resources represent the biggest challenges for ID NGOs.•
Key social capital drivers for knowledge management have been identified.•
A project knowledge management model is proposed integrating the social capital drivers.•
Management can see what social resources are spread across their project know-how.
Nonprofit, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are important actors in international development (ID) who implement trillions of dollars’ worth of projects annually. As with other organizations delivering projects, ID NGOs seem to be failing many stakeholders due to poor delivery of results. Lack, and mismanagement, of social links and knowledge resources have been identified as the biggest challenges of ID NGOs in reaching vulnerable beneficiary populations. We have explored ID NGOs’ social capital and knowledge management systems in order to propose an integrated model to optimize ID NGO project management through social resources embedded into organizational structures. The integrated model we propose enables multi-stakeholder engagement in all phases of project life cycle, building a culture of accountability and respect. This model also helps promote smart and flexible solutions to the “wicked” problems ID projects often grapple with, as well as timely adaptation to changed circumstances and unforeseen or challenging events.