The rise and fall of donor funding for advocacy NGOs: understanding the impact

NGOs in Asian countries often experience fluctuations in funding because of the constantly shifting priorities of their international donors. Without domestic sources, Asian NGOs are forced to re-align their priorities with donor interests in order to compete for funding. In the case of advocacy NGOs, the resulting asymmetry in donor–grantee relations often leads to a crisis of legitimacy and deteriorating effectiveness for the NGO. Because of the political nature of advocacy work, these NGOs must maintain a reputation for independence and legitimacy if they are to be influential in the political process. This article analyses the impact of fluctuating international donor assistance to advocacy NGOs in Cambodia, the Philippines, and Thailand, and offers recommendations for donors. While donors have spent significant resources building the capacity of advocacy NGOs in South-East Asia, funding trends usually undermine the effectiveness of their grantees long before funding is ended. pp213-222