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From old dinosaurs to development professionals & marketeers. Some consequences of ‘ professionalisation ’ in the NGO sector. Professionalisation. The changing context The rise of the aid industry The prevailing business model then The chance to reprofessionalise…. Divergent trends.

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From old dinosaurs to development professionals marketeers

From old dinosaurs to development professionals & marketeers

Some consequences of ‘professionalisation’ in the NGO sector


  • The changing context

  • The rise of the aid industry

  • The prevailing business model


  • The chance to reprofessionalise…

Divergent trends
Divergent trends

Fragmentation &


Federation &


The emergence of an industry
The emergence of an industry

  • 1970s to late 1980s - A time of heroes – liberation theology, liberation struggle, radical politics

  • 1990s – A time of unplanned but fast growth and developmental expertise and professionalisation

  • 2000s – A time of expansion, federalisation, systematisation, growth at all costs, boom and bust

Size matters in ethiopia
Size matters – in Ethiopia

  • Income and expenditure by INGOs outperformed all the country’s other foreign exchange earners with the single exception of cash transfers from Ethiopians living abroad.

  • In 2006/7 $537 million in foreign exchange brought in, more than $100 million more than Ethiopia’s largest export earner – coffee - & $160 million more than the next three export commodities combined.

  • Investment from NGOs now ‘equivalent to 25% of the government’s annual budget’.

My potted story
My potted story…

  • 1983 A teacher – watched BandAid in 1985

  • 1986 Live Aid School run – raised £4,000

  • 1988 To Sudan (VSO) – behind enemy lines in Eritrea to meet rebels

  • 1990 Masters in Education at Bristol

  • 1991 Joined Christian Aid Horn of Africa – ‘just wars’

  • 1995 flew into Nuba Mts with rebel leaders under the Sudan Govnt radar

  • 1998 Joined CAFOD – spent next years bringing in PCM, security management etc.

  • 2004 Back to Ethiopia – to help build ‘strong civil society’ holding the state to account.

Mark duffield
Mark Duffield

  • ‘Development is a new religion. Trying to take a critical view of NGOs is like trying to tell people that God doesn’t exist. We’re dealing with a perception that the NGOs can do no harm, that they exist only to do good…they are above politics, on the margins always doing good.’

Peter gill
Peter Gill

  • ‘You ask Mr X what he does, and he says “I own my own NGO,”’ Tamrat Giorghis, managing editor of Fortune newspaper said. ‘The barber shuts up shop one day, and goes off to form his own NGO. There are lots of clever students in school and all they want to do is to get into an NGO – either that or an embassy job or the UN.’

Classic drama triangle
Classic Drama triangle




The bigger picture
The bigger picture…

  • We want more impact on our priorities and to survive competition…we want to be at the ‘top table’ to have more clout

  • We have to develop more procedures, strategies – to control diversity, ensure conformity and ‘fit’

  • We become bigger and more dominating – over our local constituencies and our partners, even national governments – and our identities become ‘submerged’

From inepd web site
From INEPD web-site

  • Your donations are helping to support Tanya support Maria to go to school and face grinding poverty with dignity. There are thousands more children like Maria do you want to leave them hungry tonight? Donate Now!

Rolling with the dynamic
Rolling with the dynamic…

Federalisation and merger

Fragmentation & localisation

The good news
The good news…

  • However much we try to control, to consolidate and federate, we will inevitably fragment…

  • Context and local (level) identity will win out…

  • So what are the opportunities for reprofessionalisation…?

  • 3 offerings

Pedagogy of solidarity
‘Pedagogy of Solidarity’

  • Renewing and redefining the values which started the ‘industry’

    Tariq Ramadan

  • “One should begin with the being, the smile, the dignity, the culture that fashions the person…not reduce him to a sum of needs which ‘I’ support.”

Of marketing
…of marketing

  • “Ah – but you need to get people’s attention first! …and for that you have to start with ‘the need’.”

    John Bird

  • “Suddenly the public were offered an alternative….This is what I did not understand. That we created an appetite among the public, or in enough of them, to say ‘Yes, let’s give this fighter support’”


  • The ‘X’ Factor

    John Bird again…

    “I once wrote disparagingly about this desire for people to be ‘on stage’ instead of in the audience. Now I begin to feel that it is not as bad as giving voyeurism the upper hand. If the next decade is about anything it is about participating. Getting involved.”

A renewed activist triangle
A renewed activist triangle?

Social Activist



Social Activist