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Understanding voluntary organizations : guidelines for donors


  • Brown, L. David
  • Korten, David C.


Voluntary development organizations have demonstrated substantial comparatiave advantage in developing countries - especially in their ability to innovate, adapt to local conditions, and reach and work with poor and difficult to reach populations. These capabilities are a function of their values, special skills, small size, limited resources, flexibility, and freedom from political constraints. Their weaknesses are a function of many of the same characteristics - particularly their value commitments, small size, independence, and lack of administrative rigidity. The authors explain that the strongest Voluntary Organizations (VOs) and People's Organizations (POs) respond to more than financial incentives. Their strength lies in the fact that they are not the same as government organizations or businesses. At the same time, they are not immune to financial incentives, which if wrongly applied can destroy the voluntarism of all but the most strongly aware of VOs and POs.

Suggested Citation

  • Brown, L. David & Korten, David C., 1989. "Understanding voluntary organizations : guidelines for donors," Policy Research Working Paper Series 258, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:258

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    Cited by:

    1. Foreit, Karen G., 1992. "Private sector approaches to effective family planning," Policy Research Working Paper Series 940, The World Bank.
    2. repec:eee:epplan:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:20-32 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Serrano, Emma Estela Saavedra, 2008. "The Impact of International Cooperation on Rural Producer Organizations: Case Study of a Dairy Association in Bolivia," 2008 International Congress, August 26-29, 2008, Ghent, Belgium 44410, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
    4. Alan Fowler & Kees Biekart, 2013. "Relocating Civil Society in a Politics of Civic-Driven Change," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 31(4), pages 463-483, July.
    5. Laura B. Rawlings & Lynne Sherburne-Benz & Julie van Domelen, 2004. "Evaluating Social Funds : A Cross-Country Analysis of Community Investments," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15057, March.
    6. fyvie, Claire & Ager, Alastair, 1999. "NGOs and Innovation: Organizational Characteristics and Constraints in Development Assistance Work in The Gambia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 1383-1395, August.


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