International NGOs and Poverty Reduction Strategies: The Contribution of an Asset-Based Approach

Examining poverty alleviation strategies of international NGOs
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This study summarizes current poverty reduction strategies of 21 U.S.- and UK-based international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). It also identifies the applicability of an asset accumulation framework to prevailing INGO strategies for poverty reduction.

The study assesses possible determinants of INGO poverty approaches. It finds that:

  • History is a stronger factor in shaping an organization’s poverty strategy than mission;
  • Current development theory has only an indirect impact, by affecting funders’ interest;
  • Funding sources, particularly the US government and foundations, are influential;
  • Organizational structure seems to have an unclear and complicated relationship to INGO poverty frameworks and strategies.

Structured conversations with INGO staff raised unexpected issues relating to the changing context in which INGOs conduct poverty reduction work. Key trends include:

  • Increasing emphasis on aid effectiveness by government agencies and foundations;
  • Emergence of new sources of funding and a new breed of development actors;
  • Shifting North-South INGO power relationships;
  • Growing convergence of conservation and development concerns;
  • Greater awareness of the impact of climate change on development and conservation.