For a private foundation engaged in global development, the quality of the partnership between the INGO and in-country partners is a fundamental determinant of whether and how dollars turn into results. INGOs act, in effect, as an extension of the foundation, and as such should be held accountable not only for carrying out the agreed program of work, but for doing so in a way that aligns with the foundation’s values. Unfortunately, for the most part, the nature of the relationship between an INGO and its local partners — whether good, bad, or just plain ugly — goes unobserved by funders.

It’s time for that to change.

To that end, here are five basic questions that staff at foundations working internationally can — and should — ask their INGO grantees about how the resources they are entrusted with are supporting local partners. By interrogating the nature of these relationships, foundation staff can also help to set (or reset) expectations within their grantees.

  1. How long has the INGO worked with its local partner(s) and is this a relationship that will continue after the completion of the grant?
  2. Who designs the program of work?
  3. How much of the funding is going to the in-country partners, and what do the local organizations know about the overall grant budget?
  4. What is the value brought by the INGO beyond channeling funding?
  5. What credit is given to the local organization for its contributions?

Read the full article about reimagining the relationship between international NGOs and local partners by Ruth Levine at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.