Global: Individuals give NGOs more funds than donors

Fifty-one percent of humanitarian funding for 114 NGOs studied comes from private sources. As a result, an NGO such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which channeled US$495 million to emergency response in 2006, outspends the humanitarian budgets of 20 individual government donors, including France, the Netherlands, Germany and Norway.

MSF France spent $81 million of French private citizens’ money on humanitarian crises in 2006, compared to $48 million spent by the French government.

And MSF is outspent only by the two largest Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) donors, the United States and United Kingdom.

“NGOs spend four out of every 10 dollars that comes in for humanitarian assistance,” said Lisa Walmsley, editor of the study, ‘Public support for humanitarian crises through NGOs.’ “The numbers speak for themselves: when you see on a graph that some NGOs are bigger than so many donors, it is quite a striking image.”

The report studied NGO and donor humanitarian financing in 2006, analysing the funds of 30 donor members of the OECD, and 114 NGOs across 23 countries. The NGOs include 19 of the world’s largest humanitarian non-profit networks or families such as Oxfam, CARE, MSF, Save the Children and World Vision. Together these NGOs spend 60 percent of global humanitarian funding.

It did not analyse money sent via remittances, from host communities or donations for non-emergency purposes.


Some NGOs are far more reliant on private giving than others: Norwegian People’s Aid receives one percent from private donors, while MSF receives 86 percent. This comes down partly to respective countries’ funding habits; Scandinavian donors for instance, give proportionally high percentages of annual income to humanitarian assistance, and channel much of it through NGOs.

It also intertwined with NGOs’ cultural and philosophical origins, which humanitarian think-tank the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has split into three categories: religious, Dunanist, or Wilsonian. Dunanist organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, MSF or Save the Children, position themselves outside of state interests; Wilsonian organisations see US values and influence as a force for good; and religious NGOs such as the Caritas network derive much of their funding through religious institutions.

DI’s study was undertaken in a humanitarian aid climate in which bilateral and multilateral donor funding for emergency response has been on a steady increase over the past several years, according to humanitarian finance expert Abby Stoddard.

The number of emergencies has also increased, says the International Federation of the Red Cross; in 2007 the number of UN and NGO emergency appeals was more than double that in 2000.

Walmsley was unable to say whether private giving to NGOs has increased in recent years. In the UK the Disasters Emergency Committee, an NGO network that raises money from UK members of the public for NGO emergency response, shows its figures are inconsistent – the 2004 tsunami bringing in $538 million, versus the latest 2009 appeal for Gaza residents, attracting just $9.7 million.


NGO representatives say private funds allow them to respond quickly – within hours or days rather than weeks – to sudden crises and often finance the initial response phase before they have issued their own or a collective appeal.

Up to 65 percent of DAC donors took six weeks to disburse funding for emergencies in 2006 according to DI’s 2008 Good Humanitarian Donorship Indicators Report.

Private funds allow NGOs to safeguard their independence from governments and are more flexible, aid officials say. “The chief advantage is you can move very quickly and you can use the money for anything you need,” said Janet Harris, vice-president of development for the International Rescue Committee, whose emergency funding is 47 percent private, according to the DI report.

“Take the current Darfur crisis: we can pre-position supplies and plan for scenarios of possible [people] movements into Chad, South Sudan and the Central African Republic which we couldn’t do if we had to rely only on official sources.”

With unrestricted funds NGOs can help set the donor or media agenda rather than being driven by it, Harris said. “We can detect and reveal a problem [with private sources] that official sources will then pick up on,” Harris continued, pointing out programmes IRC launched to address violence against women in the Democratic Republic of Congo, that triggered donor funding.

According to DI’s research, NGOs spend a higher proportion of private contributions on Africa than DAC donors – at 57 versus 46 percent, and much less on the Middle East – at three versus 15 percent.


But heavy reliance on private donors is risky because on a daily basis they are more volatile than institutional donors, Harris said. “It [private giving] is more subject to sudden shifts in headlines in the economy. People tend to be more spontaneous in their giving, and the lack of predictability is one of our biggest management problems.”

The global economic crisis is hitting private donations hard, causing many dependent NGOs such as Oxfam to downsize. IRC’s private donations are expected to have shrunk by 10 percent in the 2008-09 fiscal year, said Harris. Meanwhile many of the biggest institutional donors have pledged they will do all they can to maintain their humanitarian budgets.

Caritas, a network of 162 NGOs whose humanitarian funding is equivalent to the Swedish government’s, also expects a fall in private donations across its network. “There is a commitment to keep frontline services up and running at the same funding levels, which will mean cuts in other areas such as education or advocacy campaigns,” warned spokesperson Patrick Nicholson.

Fundraising Manager, Leona Kavanagh, at Caritas member Trocaire, told IRIN they are also concerned that their private funding base, mainly made up of aging church-goers, will dwindle over time. But the key is to remain resourceful, she said. “We are concerned, but we’re reaching out to schools and each generation within families to try to assure our future.”


[ENDS] A selection of IRIN reports are posted on ReliefWeb. Find more IRIN news and analysis at



Filed under Humanitarian, Kempen-kempen

3 responses to “Global: Individuals give NGOs more funds than donors

    • global community development org.

      Individuals donors

      Re: Letter of Inquiry

      Dear Sir/Madame:

      We bring you greetings from the Almighty God in whom we all are serving in his vain yard.

      We are aware that the World individauls contribute a number of assistance for community improvement and development purposes. We wish to apply for one of the Organization’s assistance.

      The GLOBAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (GLOCODO) has enjoyed a significant growth within the last six months. The organization launched two new programs including a community computer training an alternative learning program for under privileged high school graduates and high school dropped out. We delivered a total of $2000.00 in community improvement projects in less than one year alone an outstanding record of achievement. Our staff has double in an effort to effectively administer our new program as well as keeping pace with organization’s growth, and administrative responsibilities.

      I am please to write you about a project that I believe will be of interest to the Organization. The GLOBAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (GLOCODO) is seeking $30.000 over six month to expand it very successful human resource capacity building program to provide aggressive hands- on computer training, and alternative Educational program in our inner city communities. The hands-on computer and alternative Educational program is a highly less than a year old enrichment program for inner city high school and above under privileged youths.

      The newly expanded outreach program will utilizing the resources and leadership of the GLOBAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (GLOCODO) participants, bring computer skills and knowledge to high school graduates and high School drop out, under skilled and unemployed adults, singles and other community members lacking the adequate computer skill and Educational resources needed to secure and maintain skilled job with which to support themselves and their families.

      We are seeking support from the global individuals to enable us to develop and pilot project and demonstrate it soundness and effectiveness to the hands-on computer and alternative program financiers, the community development agencies for future funding of the long-term program.

      We ask for your partnership because of the Organization’s demonstrated interest in alternative education and youth leadership development especially for those from the under privileged. We critically need funds, materials to lunch this sorely needed computer training program, funds, the equipments, software, and Educational resources, these equipment and support resources will constructively assist the 2.5 million inhabitants under Educated minority residents to be served by our new community service program. The enthic composition is approximately 65% Liberians and 20% Ghanaians, 10% Sierra Leoneans, 5% Nigerians.

      The GLOBAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (GLOCODO) has already raised an initial investment of more than $2000.00 in absolutely necessary computer equipment toward a computer system, training and services budget of $30.000. We have worked hard to bridge the grap and anticipate receiving grants and donations from private sector sources in administrative resources. Despite of our general fundraising efforts, our program budget is far from balanced. Cuts in government financing continue, with more expected, especially those affecting our clients with income below poverty level. Undaunted, The GLOBAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (GLOCODO) is an organization committed to excellence, with a clear vision and a passion for delivering outstanding results. We ask you to work with us to capitalize on our growth and strengths.

      Over the past six months the organization has proven the effectiveness of youth leadership development and community base program. The organization has helped to demonstrate that community outreach program which are developed and managed by a community make a striking impact. With the partnership of the organization, our young men/women leaders will bring vital alternative Education and critically- need training skills to their family members and peers, and in so doing, will effect positive change in their own communities.

      The GLOBAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (GLOCODO) instructors/ teachers will serves as a model outreach volunteers for our Inner city neighborhood through out the community. The organization program has attracted the National attention as an innovations prototype for skill training enrichment, and has been replication in at least two major communities.

      The challenge at this stage is to seize the opportunity to take the risk, to realize an innovative, new rewarding and productive future. With the strength which has made the GLOBAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (GLOCODO) program what it is today, the choice is an easy one- helps our community meet the challenges of the 21st century.

      The need for effective computer training and Education can not be over stated. The hands- on computer training requirements of our community are over whelming and mirror the needs of most other Inner city population. The hands-on computer program is ready to be launch as a National model for all Inner city community and every where for building a future, uplifting individuals, creating self-sufficiency.

      Thank you for your support and assistance to the GLOBAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATION (GLOCODO) and the community residents it serves. We look forward to your review. We will be pleased to submit additional information at your request.
      Please do not hesitate to contact me at telephone and e-mail:
      Tele: +233-24773312


      God bless
      Mr. Albert F. Wilson
      Executive Director


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