In the 1950s and 1960s, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and official donors tended to pursue different development agendas. Beyond support to emergencies, they were usually disinterested in each other's activities and occasionally suspicious of the other's motives. This began to change from the early 1970s when most donors followed the earlier example of countries such as Norway and Canada in directly supporting NGO development programmes. The shift of official funding towards NGOs accelerated in the 1980s. Part of this shift is explained by the growth in emergency assistance in the period but it also reflected a growing recognition of the role of NGO programmes in meeting official aid objectives in areas such as poverty reduction, environmental conservation, health and education.
This Briefing Paper focuses on the various, and changing, ways in which NGOs interact with official donors and discusses possible new directions in the relationship between NGOs and donors. The emphasis is upon development activities, rather than emergency assistance and relief.