Published: Jul 2005

Paper Details


  • Michael Edwards, Ford Foundation, Florida

Working Paper

Have NGOs `Made a Difference? From Manchester to Birmingham with an Elephant in the Room

In 1991, David Hulme and I found ourselves in a bar at the University of Hull enjoying a post-conference beer. The conversation turned to a mutual interest of ours - the role and impact of NGOs in development - and after a few more pints we hit on the idea that eventually became the first `Manchester Conference` on the theme of `scaling-up`, later to be summarized in a book called `Making a Difference: NGOs and Development in a Changing World` (Edwards and Hulme, 1992). Fifteen years on, the NGO universe has been substantially transformed, with rates of growth in scale and profile that once would have been unthinkable. Yet still the nagging questions remain. Despite the increasing size and sophistication of the development NGO sector, have NGOs really `made a difference` in the ways the first Manchester Conference intended, or have the reforms that animated the NGO community during the 1990s now run out of steam?

Part of the series