NGOs as Change Agents: Being and Doing Change

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The contribution of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to development has grown considerably in the last 50 years. NGOs have emerged from being small specialist agencies supporting development alternatives to being mainstream contributors to development efforts, frequently working with governments in the delivery of services. Inevitably this transition has been associated with considerable critique from those who believe that NGOs should deliver ‘alternative’ approaches to those favoured by state-financed assistance and government agencies.

This chapter argues against any simplistic assessment of NGOs and their development achievements. It suggests that a scholarly engagement with NGOs and their activities requires a differentiated approach, recognising that vary in their purpose and strategies, and hence their contribution to social change. Four NGO personas characterise different visions, missions and strategies. After describing these personas, the chapter identifies the challenges that NGOs have to overcome and explores how the different personas respond to these challenges.

The chapter focuses on NGOs while recognising that they are part of the broader constituency of civil society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Social Change
EditorsRichard Ballard, Clive Barnett
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781351261562
ISBN (Print)9780815365471, 9781032313818
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Sept 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge International Handbooks

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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