Demonstrating NGO performance: problems and possibilities

Recent years have seen development NGOs making significant efforts to show how they are performing, a trend impelled by three factors: stricter requirements attached to official aid, which is a fast-growing proportion of NGO funds; doubts about NGOs claims to be more effective than governments; post-Cold War shifts in the role of NGOs, which increase their own needs to know what is being achieved, in order to manage the processes of organisational reorientation and transformation. Almost without exception, NGOs are finding it very difficult to come up with sound, cost-effective methods to show the results of their development activities, or even to demonstrate their effectiveness as organizations. These difficulties arise from both key features of the aid system, and from the nature of 'non-profits'. The paper summarizes the difficulties in each of these two areas, and considers solutions that are emerging from recent experience. A concluding section explores the link between accountability and performance, and speculates on the range of approaches which NGOs might use in the future to prove that they are valuable and effective agents of development. Abstract supplied by kind permission of CABI.