As the following section outlines, NGOs lack some of the defining attributes of membership-based organizations.
Despite the important role they continue to play, this has limited the role that NGOs can play as countervailing powers against dominant state and market interests.
The Prosperity Programme Fund in South Africa will support projects in the following areas: Business environment: improving the business environment for foreign and domestic companies, and breaking down barriers to trade and investment.
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While we do not attempt to solve the unanswerable question of defining development NGOs in a way that captures the heterogeneity that exists across them, we believe that distinguishing between intermediary NGOs and membership-based civil society organizations is the key differentiation to make in understanding the limited progress that development NGOs have made in the arena of social change.
In illustrating this we explore three key issues that have been drawn into sharper focus and help to explain why there has been so little change in the NGO community over the past two decades.
The literature on NGOs and civil society has expanded dramatically in this time, but we believe its general direction supports our initial concerns: as a result of internal and external pressures, most NGO efforts remain palliative rather than transformative.
Earlier predictions that the gradual erosion of aid would liberate NGOs and allow them to return to their earlier roots have not been realized, and many seem to lack the urgency, foresight, and courage to move out of the comfort zone in which they have found themselves (Fowler, 2000a ; Fowler, 2000b).
In fact, the increased dependence of NGOs on donor funding served to undermine the strengths that justified an increased role for NGOs in development ( blog for being a ‘generalized and ill-informed attack on NGOs’.
The debate that followed, with contributions from academics, NGO practitioners and interested members of civil society, was picked up by an article on which asked whether a fault-line was deepening between NGOs that are increasingly vocal about the problems they face and those who (at least publicly) remain passive or defensive.Promoting greater transparency and accountability, tackling tax evasion and encouraging trade liberalisation.We welcome projects with a focus on South Africa’s regulatory reform, transparency and anti-corruption / anti-bribery efforts. We welcome projects aimed at helping up- scale renewable energy and diversify South Africa’s energy mix; building capacity and strengthening technical skills in the energy sector; exploring the development of shale gas, nuclear and CCS (and related infrastructure); and promoting UK commercial and policy interests in the energy sector.However, NGOs are only one, albeit important, actor in civil society.When it comes to realizing goals of empowerment, social justice, and transformation we must be careful to distinguish between NGOs and other civil society organizations such as labor unions or social movements which act in, and are affected by, the politics of development in different ways (Clarke, 1998; Fisher, 1997; Mercer, 2002; Pearce, 1993 ; Uphoff, 1993).Serious questions remain about the ability of NGOs to meet long-term transformative goals in their work for development and social justice.