StoppingAs Success (SAS) has produced 20 case studies of transition in 13 countries, and over 20 resources and practical tools to inform transition processes for INGOs, NGOs/CSOs, and donors. SAS looked at both organizational and programmatic transitions, and identified the following eight key takeaways:
- How INGOs enter matters just as much as how they leave: partnerships based on solidarity and trust from the beginning allow for smoother transitions.
- A joint vision for transition from the outset enables accountability.
- INGOs that promote local leadership are able to transition in a more sustainable way.
- To support locally led development, INGOs need to address existing power imbalances and engage in mutual transformation.
- Transition plans that remain flexible and adaptive support local ownership.
- Periods of overlap (when INGOs and new local entities operate simultaneously) can help to minimize the disruption of transition periods and foster financial sustainability.
- Smaller, more flexible funding sources and other types of resource transfer are invaluable for successful transitions.
- Transition is as much a beginning as it is an ending: post-transition relationships can continue in many different forms.
SAS has sought to contribute to a limited but growing body of evidence on how INGO transitions can promote locally led development. The project has shown that successful, responsible transitions address both technical and procedural aspects alongside relational and partnership-based ones. A procedurally perfect transition that does not address fundamental issues of power and legitimacy is incomplete.
At a few moments throughout SAS we have encountered some skepticism about how ‘local’ an entity that transitions away from an INGO truly is. But in the cases studies we examined, new local organizations were established to fill a gap left by an INGO departure, or to change course based on shifting local priorities, and were fully locally owned and run. We recognize the problematization of the word ‘local’ and seek to clarify how we use that term in the Definitions section of the synthesis. Additionally, we opted to distinguish between exits and transitions to emphasize the importance of INGOs transferring ownership, responsibility, and resources to local entities when promoting locally led development. Transition is not about walking away, it is about making way for local organizations to lead.