MzN recommends

Resources for NGOs

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.

Kofi Annan

Papers and Reports

Time to Decolonise Aid

Insights and lessons from a global consultation

In November 2020, Peace Direct, Adeso, the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and Women of Color Advancing Peace and Security held a three-day online consultation with 158 activists, decisionmakers, academics, journalists and practitioners across the globe. They discussed how structural racism manifests itself in their work, and how they envision a decolonised system that is truly inclusive and responds to their needs. This report presents the findings and recommendations from that consultation. Shannon Paige is the main author of this report.

CAF World Giving Index 2021

A pandemic special

CAF has been producing its World Giving Index for more than a decade. The first CAF World Giving Index was published in the wake of the global financial crisis, and now this long-running study has given us the opportunity to look at how a new global crisis – the Covid-19 pandemic – has impacted giving around the world.

The study provides combined insight into the scope and nature of giving around the world and looks at three aspects of giving behaviour.

Hivos ToC Guidelines

Theory of Change Thinking in Practice

Hivos values working with Theory of Change (ToC) as an appropriate approach to guide its strategic thinking and action, as well as its collaborative action with others. The use of a ToC approach fosters critical questioning of all aspects of change interventions and supports adaptive planning and management in response to diverse and quickly changing contexts. It contributes to the quality and transparency of strategic thinking, and therefore to personal, organisational and social learning

The Future of Civil Society Organisations

The Future is unwritten. Yet, the current challenges and opportunities brought by the COVID-19 pandemic call for a conversation over the transformations we want to see in society, and in the humanitarian, social justice and environmental sector.

In this publication published on reliefweb, a group of leaders of civil society networks and platforms share their observations and thoughts, identifying possible directions that civil society organisations may want to go.

The Future of Aid: INGOs in 2030

In the past, when the humanitarian system has been in crisis, unable to adequately respond to needs, there has been an evolution in terms of programmatic approach and the appearance of new humanitarian actors. We are on the threshold of a major shift.

This report published by IARAN seeks to explore the drivers of change in the global environment in which the humanitarian ecosystem works, the causes of humanitarian need, and the potential evolution of the dynamics of the humanitarian ecosystem to 2030.

Scenarios on the Future of the iNGO system in 2030

In early 2020, a group of changemakers from iNGOs, NGOs, donor organisations, consultants, platforms, and academia came together to explore options to “Re-invent the iNGO system”. This group was convened by Reos Partners and Purpose & Motion with support from the Oak Foundation. As part of the process, the group developed four scenarios about possible futures of the iNGO system in 2030. The stories are based on relevant, current political, economic, social, cultural, and international dynamics and the trends emerging from the diverse responses to COVID-19.


Between Power and Irrelevance: The Future of Transnational NGOs

This book co-authored by Tosca Bruno-van Vijfeijken from Five Oaks Consulting explains why a gap exists between the rhetoric of transformative change and the reality of transnational NGOs’ limited abilities to deliver on their promises. It integrates insights from hundreds of practitioner interviews, extensive experiential learning, and academic research from multiple disciplines and helps readers evaluate and formulate strategies for adapting transnational NGOs for the future.

“This book is a must-read for all TNGO practitioners. It is both provocative and well-argued. The questions raised cannot be ignored if authentic impact is sought. Buy it, read it as a group and consider the changes that are truly necessary” —Pierre Ferrari, President and CEO, Heifer International

How Change Happens

Society is full of would-be ‘change agents’-campaigners, government officials, enlightened business people, engaged intellectuals-set on improving public services, reforming laws and regulations, guaranteeing human rights, achieving a fairer deal for those on the sharp end, and greater recognition for any number of issues. Drawing on many first-hand examples and numerous new case studies and interviews with grassroots activists and organizations around the world, as well as Oxfam’s unrivalled global experience, this important book written by Duncan Green and published by Oxford University Press answers the question: how does change happen and how can we-governments, organizations, businesses, leaders, campaigners, employees, and ordinary citizens-make a difference?

“In this powerfully argued book, Duncan Green shows how we can make major changes in our unequal and unjust world by concerted action, taking full note of the economic and social mechanisms, including established institutions, that sustain the existing order. If self-confidence is important for the effective agency of deprived communities, so is a reasoned understanding of the difficult barriers that must be faced and overcome. This is a splendid treatise on how to change the actual world-in reality, not just in our dreams.” – Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize-winning economist and author

Strategic Planning in the Humanitarian Sector: A Manual to Foresight and Futures-Focused Thinking

Drawing on extensive research, this book by Eilidh Kennedy and Michel Maietta demonstrates in practical terms how embedding future-focused thinking into practice can help humanitarian actors to enhance their impact and fit for the future. The book provides readers with a step-by-step guide to an innovative combination of tools and methods tested and refined over the course of several years. However, it also goes beyond this, by grounding the approach within the broader ambition of making humanitarian action more effective. Overall, the analytical and strategic processes outlined in this book will accompany a decision-maker through every stage of creating a robust, agile and impactful long-term strategy.

As a Global South leader committed to community-led structural change, I highly recommend this book to my colleagues as well as to anyone seeking a comprehensive understanding of the humanitarian sector. The historical background, the contextual framework and the strategic planning tools that it provides are invaluable to practitioners interested in making a meaningful and systemic impact.“- Marie-Rose Romain Murphy, Co-Founder of ESPWA and The Haiti Community Foundation; and President of RMC-Romain Murphy Consulting, USA

The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator

Classes in social innovation, social entrepreneurship and design thinking have become increasingly popular in recent years. On the one hand, this might be seen as a good thing. After all, the world needs as many smart, engaged citizens as it can get, particularly when you consider the multitude of challenges we face as a planet. But does a career in social change really begin in the classroom, or out in the real world? How much social change is planned, and how much accidental? And which approach tends to lead to the most meaningful, lasting or impactful solutions?

With a foreword from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator provides a welcome challenge to conventional wisdom in social entrepreneurship. It highlights the personal stories of ten social innovators from around the world. Ten social innovators – ordinary people – who randomly stumbled across problems, injustices and wrongs and, armed with little more than determination and belief, decided not to turn their backs but to dedicate their lives to solving them.

21st Century Investing: Redirecting Financial Strategies to Drive Systems Change

Two experienced and visionary authors show how institutions and individuals can go beyond conventional and sustainable investing to address complex problems such as income inequality and climate change on a deep, systemic level.

It’s time for a new way to think about investing, one that can contend with the complex challenges we face in the 21st century. In this paradigm-shifting book, William Burckart and Steve Lydenberg show how system-level investors support and enhance the health and stability of the social, financial, and environmental systems on which they depend for long-term returns. They preserve and strengthen these fundamental systems while still generating competitive or otherwise acceptable performance.

The Systems Work of Social Change: How to Harness Connection, Context, and Power to Cultivate Deep and Enduring Change

In The Systems Work of Social Change, Cynthia Rayner and François Bonnici draw on two hundred years of history and a treasure trove of stories of committed social change-makers to uncover principles and practices for social change that radically depart from industrial approaches.

Rather than delivering “solutions,” these principles and practices focus on the process of change itself. Through rich storytelling and lucid analysis, Rayner and Bonnici show that connection, context, and power sit at the heart of the change process, ensuring broader agency for people and communities to create social systems that are responsive and representative in a rapidly changing world.

Rayner and Bonnici demonstrate that the collective power and voice of the most marginalized groups are in fact central to societal transformation.” Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Motsepe Foundation and Chancellor, University of Cape Town

Podcasts and Blogs

NGO Soul + Strategy

Five Oaks Consulting‘s podcast NGO Soul + Strategy is a podcast for leaders of NGOs and other philanthropic organizations who are not satisfied with the status quo, are ready to look change right in the eye and who see themselves as leader-as-learner.

Tosca and her guests aim to offer rigor, to go deeper, question assumptions about our sector, to be honest about our sector: its strengths, its weaknesses, its culture and habits. And they aim to sometimes be provocative.

FP2P: From Poverty to Power

“From Poverty to Power (FP2P) is meant to be a conversation, a chance to compare notes on the great swirling cloud of chatter, opinion, argument and on-the-ground experience that makes the development scene so fascinating.”

The blog is co-written and maintained by Duncan Green, strategic adviser for Oxfam GB, author of ‘From Poverty to Power‘, ‘How Change Happens’ and Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. He’s also a lead educator for the free online course Make Change Happen, developed by Oxfam with the Open University.

The New Humanitarian podcast

The New Humanitarian is launching a new 6-episode podcast series exploring innovations across the emergency aid sector. Each episode will focus on people, projects, organisations, or start-ups working in new and creative ways to improve the lives of those affected by conflict and disaster.

Their flagship podcast, Rethinking Humanitarianism, just wrapped its second season and will be back soon.

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Further Resources

The Donor Tracker- a tool for evidence-based advocacy

The Donor Tracker, created by SEEK Development, is a website that now provides comprehensive profiles of 14 major OECD donors, development-related policy and events updates, special features (‘highlight stories’) covering topics of particular interest to the development community, a data comparison tool, and ‘deep dives’ within each donor profile on the topics of agriculture, nutrition, global health, education, and global health research and development. There is also a Donor Tracker app.

The Donor Tracker’s is used widely by advocates for global development, professionals in international organizations and agencies, governments and their foreign ministries, researchers, policy-makers, think-tank analysts, journalists, and academics around the world.