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NGOization, Foreign Funding, and the Nicaraguan Civil Society

  • Dean Chahim
  • Aseem PrakashEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

A substantial section of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the global South depend on foreign funds to conduct their operations. This paper explores how the availability of foreign funding affects their downward accountability, abilities to effect social change, and their relative influence in relation to traditional grassroots, membership-based organizations (GROs), which tend not to receive such funding. Drawing on a case study of Nicaragua, we challenge the notion that foreign funding of domestic NGOs leads to the evolution of civil society organizations, which have incentives and abilities to organize the marginalized sections of society in ways to effect social change in their interests. Instead, we find that foreign funding and corresponding professionalization of the NGO sector creates dualism among domestic civil society organizations. Foreign funding enhances the visibility and prestige of the “modern” NGO sector over traditional GROs. This has grave policy implications because foreign-funded NGOs tend to be more accountable to donors than beneficiaries and are more focused on service delivery than social change-oriented advocacy.

Keywords

Central America Nicaragua Foreign funding NGOs Civil society Accountability 

Résumé

Une grande partie des organisations non-gouvernementales (ONG) de l’hémisphère sud dépendent de financements étrangers pour conduire leurs opérations. Cet article explore la façon dont les financements étrangers affectent la responsabilité au sein de ces organisations, leur capacité à amener des changements sociaux, et leur influence relative vis-à-vis des organisations de base traditionnelles fondées sur l’adhésion (ODB) qui ne reçoivent généralement pas de tels financements. En nous basant sur une étude de cas au Nicaragua, nous remettons en question l’idée que le financement étranger d’ONG locales amène à faire évoluer les organisations de la société civile, leur donnant la motivation et les moyens nécessaires pour organiser les groupes sociaux marginalisés dans le but d’améliorer leur condition. Nous constatons qu’au lieu de cela, le financement étranger et la professionnalisation du secteur des ONG qu’il entraîne crée une dichotomie entre organisations de la société civile locale. Le financement étranger améliore la visibilité et le prestige des ONG « modernes » au détriment des ODB traditionnelles. Ce fait a des conséquences politiques importantes car les ONG recevant des financements étrangers sont généralement plus responsables vis-à-vis de leur donateurs que de leur bénéficiaires et plus concentrées sur l’exécution de services que sur une action visant au changement social.

Zusammenfassung

Viele nicht-staatliche Organisationen auf der Südhalbkugel sind bei ihren Tätigkeiten auf Gelder aus dem Ausland angewiesen. Dieser Beitrag untersucht, wie sich die Verfügbarkeit ausländischer Mittel auf die vertikale Rechenschaftspflicht dieser Organisationen, ihre Fähigkeit, soziale Änderungen zu bewirken und ihren relativen Einfluss im Hinblick auf die traditionellen mitgliederbasierten Basisorganisationen, die in der Regel keine derartigen Gelder erhalten, auswirkt. Beruhend auf einer Fallstudie von Nicaragua hinterfragen wir die Auffassung, dass eine Finanzierung inländischer nicht-staatlicher Organisationen mit ausländischen Mitteln zu einer Entwicklung von Bürgergesellschaftsorganisationen führt, die daran interessiert und in der Lage sind, gesellschaftliche Randgruppen zu organisieren, um soziale Änderungen in ihrem Interesse zu bewirken. Stattdessen kommen wir zu dem Ergebnis, dass die Mittelbereitstellung aus dem Ausland und die entsprechende Professionalisierung des nicht-staatlichen Sektors einen Dualismus unter den inländischen Bürgergesellschaftsorganisationen schafft. Eine Finanzierung aus dem Ausland erhöht die Visibilität und das Ansehen des „modernen“nicht-staatlichen Sektors gegenüber traditionellen Basisorganisationen. Dies hat gravierende organisationspolitische Folgen, da sich nicht-staatliche Organisationen, die mit ausländischen Mitteln finanziert werden, in der Regel gegenüber ihren Spendern mehr verpflichtet fühlen als gegenüber ihren Leistungsempfängern und sich mehr auf die Leistungserbringung konzentrieren als auf eine Interessenvertretung, bei der soziale Änderungen im Vordergrund stehen.

Resumen

Una parte sustancial de las organizaciones no gubernamentales (ONG) en el Sur global dependen de fondos extranjeros para llevar a cabo sus operaciones. El presente documento explora cómo la disponibilidad de financiación extranjera afecta a su responsabilidad hacia abajo, a sus capacidades para efectuar el cambio social y a su influencia relativa en relación con las organizaciones tradicionales locales basadas en la afiliación de sus miembros (GRO, del inglés grassroots organizations), que tienden a no recibir dicha financiación. Basándonos en un estudio de caso de Nicaragua, cuestionamos la noción de que la financiación extranjera de ONG nacionales lleva a la evolución de las organizaciones de la sociedad civil, que tienen incentivos y capacidades para organizar las secciones marginadas de la sociedad de forma que efectúen el cambio social en su interés. En cambio, encontramos que la financiación extranjera y la correspondiente profesionalización del sector de las ONG crean dualismo entre las organizaciones nacionales de la sociedad civil. La financiación extranjera acentúa la visibilidad y el prestigio del sector moderno de las “ONG” sobre las organizaciones locales (GRO) tradicionales. Esto tiene graves implicaciones políticas porque las ONG que reciben financiación extranjera tienden a ser más responsables ante los donantes que beneficiarias y se centran más en la entrega de servicios que en la defensa orientada al cambio social.

摘要

第三世界国家的许多非政府组织(NGO)依赖于外国资金来运转。本篇论文探索外国资金的可得性如何影响其向下问责机制、带来社会变革的能力以及相对传统草根式的以成员为基础的组织(GRO)的影响力。基于对尼加拉瓜的一个案例研究的分析,我们质疑一个观点,即国内 NGO 的外国资金导致公民社会组织的演变,公民社会组织有动力也有能力组织社会中被边缘化的群体以带来社会变革,服务于这些群体的利益。相反,我们发现,NGO 领域的外国资金和相应的职业化对国内公民社会组织有着影响双重。一方面,外国资金加强了“现代化” NGO 行业相对传统 GRO 的知名度和声望。另一方面,这有着重大的政策影响,因为相比受益人,由外国资金支撑的 NGO 通常对捐款人更为负责,更关注服务的提供,而不是以社会变革为导向的倡导活动。

要約

世界の南部地域における多数の非政府組織(NGO)は、事業を実施するために外国資金に依存している。本研究では、外国資金の入手可能性が、組織下の責任、社会的変化に伴う可能性、伝統的な市民レベル関係における相対的な影響と、資金を受領しない傾向がある会員制の組織(GRO)にどのように影響を及ぼしているかを調査する。ニカラグアの事例研究を用いて、国内NGOでは外国資金の提供が市民の社会組織の進展に繋がることに異議を唱えるが、利益が社会的変化にもたらされることによって社会で過小評価される誘因と能力を有することを提唱する。一方、外国の資金提供を見つけてNGOセクターを専門化することは国内の市民社会組織に二元性を構成しているといえる。外国資金の提供は、伝統的なGROに可視性と「現代」のNGOセクターの信頼性を強化する。外国資金を助成されたNGOは受益者より提供者に対して説明責任を持つ傾向があり、社会的な変更を指向したサービスの提供に集中するため、重大な政策を含んでいるといえる。

ملخص

هناك جزء كبير من المنظمات الغير حكومية(NGOs) في الجنوب العالمي يعتمد على الأموال الأجنبية لإدارة عملياته. هذا البحث يقوم بدراسة كيف أن توافر التمويل الأجنبي يؤثر على هبوط مساءلتها ، القدرة على التأثير في التغيير الإجتماعي، وتأثيرها النسبي فيما يتعلق بالقاعدة الشعبية التقليدية، التي تعتمد على عضوية المنظمات (GROs)، التي لا تميل للحصول على هذا التمويل. بالاعتماد على دراسة حالة نيكاراجوا، نحن نتحدى فكرة أن التمويل الأجنبي للمنظمات الغيرحكومية(NGOs) المحلية يؤدي إلى تطور منظمات المجتمع المدني، التي لها الحوافز والقدرات لتنظيم القطاعات المهمشة من المجتمع بطرق لإحداث التغيير الاجتماعي في مصالحهم. بدلا من ذلك، نجد أن التمويل الأجنبي والمهني المطابق لقطاع المنظمات الغير حكومية (NGO) المحلية يخلق الثنائية بين منظمات المجتمع المدني. التمويل الأجنبي من شأنه أن يعزز وضوح الرؤية وهيبة قطاع المنظمات الغير حكومية(NGO) “الحديث” على القاعدة الشعبية التقليدية (GROs). هذا له إنعكاسات السياسات الخطيرة لأن المنظمات الغير حكومية (NGOs) الممولة بتمويل أجنبي تميل إلى أن تكون عرضة للمساءلة من الجهات المانحة أكثر من المستفيدين وأكثر تركيزا” على تقديم الخدمات من الدعوة الموجهة التغيير الاجتماعي.

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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political Science, Walker Family Professor for the College of Arts and SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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