Practical Guidelines for Financial Sustainability

January 1, 2020
Organizations Involved: CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, Peace Direct & Search for Common Ground
Author: David Yamron, Search for Common Ground

Stopping As Success identified the topic of financial sustainability as critical to responsible INGO aid transitions. Financial sustainability in this context refers to the financial sustainability of local organizations after their transition from an INGO.

This topic is critical to any conversation about successful transitions and true locally led development. After transition, raising funds as a new local entity can be difficult. Our research suggests that decisions made before, during, and after a transition can have wide-ranging effects on a new organization’s ability to meet these challenges.

The term ‘local’ has different connotations in different contexts and is a contested term. In the context of SAS’s research, ‘local organization’ is used to refer to CSOs or NGOs in the global South that are undergoing a process of transition in their partnership with an INGO. This encompasses organizations that work at the local and national level. The broader term ‘local actors’ recognizes the diversity of this group, which can include individuals, communities, newly created NGOs or CSOs, NGOs that have devolved from an international federation, or local and national governments.

The following sections, broken out by audience, list practical guidelines for facilitating the financial sustainability of transitioning entities. These guidelines are not intended as context-independent best practices. Rather, they are approaches and considerations that were highlighted by interviewees as important elements of their transitions and that are common across one or more of our 20 case studies. They have been validated through a series of discussions, conversations, and events, including two regional review workshops in Bangkok and Nairobi with a diverse set of participants representing our three target audiences.

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