Indicators of identity: NGOs and the strategic imperative of assessing core values

This paper argues that the distinctive values common to many NGOs gives them a particular advantage over other types of organisations. This perspective should be seen in the context of donors' increasing willingness to fund non-traditional development actors, including the military, parastatals, quangos, private service contractors, and consultancy firms. To distinguish themselves from other recipients of aid funding, NGOs need to identify, articulate, and nurture their core values and identity. The paper identifies some of the key indicators that best reflect values and organisational capacities that distinguish NGOs from other agencies. The concern is that if NGOs lose their core values they lose their role. This article is freely available as the opening chapter in Debating Development: NGOs and the Future.