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Mapping the UK’s development NGOs: income, geography and contributions to international development

Nicola Banks and Tony Brockington

Global Development Institute Working Paper Series from GDI, The University of Manchester

Abstract: Using a unique database of the incomes, expenditures and geographic location of 895 British-based development nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) spending more than £10,000 in 2015, we show that the contribution of development NGOs has been substantially underestimated. In 2015, Britain’s development NGO sector spent nearly £7 billion, equivalent to over half the UK government’s official development assistance (ODA) that year. Until now, data have not been compiled that allow the strength and significance of the sector, or its structural composition, to be understood. Mapping the sector in this manner reveals four original and important findings: The size and significance of the sector, and the implications of this for our understanding of Britain’s foreign aid contributions; That giving to international development causes is relatively minor in comparison with overall charitable giving, and appears insulated from financial crisis; The extent of sectoral unevenness in expenditure and its stability; and The increasing intermediation of funds within the sector as a result of changes in the funding landscape. This provides new insight into an influential sector, and highlights the importance of innovative research methods and techniques for the systematic understanding of development NGOs globally.

Date: 2019
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