The latest update from Baobab, reviewing recent developments in INGO leadership and governance debates, and the best of recently published resources on these issues.

This update includes new resources on:

  • Future role of ICSOs
  • Building effective multi-stakeholder initiatives
  • Changing sources of ICSO income
  • Scaling up impact



In our last update, we noted the growing debate within the sector on the future of ICSOs. This debate has gathered pace over recent months, with a number of new documents and briefings published. We have therefore set up a new topic page in our Knowledge Hub on the Future Role of ICSOs, to bring together the growing range of resources on this issue.

In addition to the resources previously featured on this topic, we’ve recently added a new analysis by Duncan Green from Oxfam, ‘Fit for the Future’, looking at how big ICSOs may need to change to respond to the growing diversity of development contexts, and a review review of Burkhard Gnaerig’s new book “The Hedgehog and the Beetle’, which throws down a challenge to ICSOs to rethink their role to remain relevant in the years ahead. Their analyses and prescriptions are quite different, and may kick off a lively debate in the sector on our future role and relevance.

You will also now find on this page the World Economic Forum’s 2013 report on the Future Role of Civil Society

If you have come across other resources on this issue – or would like to contribute to this debate, please let us know here.


Earlier this year, we launched a new Topic Page on Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives, bringing together useful articles on when and how to shape and manage multi-stakeholder initiatives across sectors to increase their prospects of being effective in tackling complex international issues.

There has been strong interest from the Baobab community in these resources over recent months, and new resources continue to emerge. We have recently added a new article from David Brown, ‘Bridge Building for Social Transformation’, looking at the common factors underlying successful partnerships, and another from FSG, ‘The Promise of Partnerships’, summarising key learning from a recent seminar for ICSO leaders on this issue.


We’ve recently published the 2015 edition of ‘ICSO Global Financial Trends’, tracking the changing pattern of income and expenditure amongst seven of the largest global civil society federations. Over the last ten years, the total income of these major federations has grown by over 70%, fuelled by strong growth of both individual and public sector income – but the pace and balance of growth varies widely between the federations. This year’s report also identifies the key growth markets for ICSO fundraising.

For those seeking new markets, we’ve recently added the new ‘Index of Philanthropic Freedom’, from the Hudson Institute, which ranks 64 countries for ease of NGO operating, NGO tax incentives, and ease of transferring funds into and out of the country.

We’ve also posted the latest updates on humanitarian aid trends: ‘Global Humanitarian Assistance 2015’ from Development Initiatives, and their new report, ’Improving ODA for a Post 2015 World’, which provides some valuable new analyses of aid in the wider context of development finance.


We are tracking continuing strong interest in ways of scaling up the impact of ICSO programmes.

We’ve recently posted a new Bridgespan article on ‘Designing for Transformative Scale’, drawing out alternative approaches to taking transformations to scale, and a new CEI article ‘The Advocacy Strategy Framework‘, looking at how ICSO boards and leaders can sharpen the strategic planning and monitoring of their advocacy initiatives.

Other resources on this issue can be found in our Topic Page on Increasing Programme Effectiveness.


We hope you will find something amongst these new resources that is relevant for you. You may also like to browse our full set of selected resources on current live topics in the sector here.

If you have come across other new or recent resources on INGO leadership and governance issues that you have found useful, please do share them with us. (There’s more detail on the type of resources we are seeking here.)  If you have suggestions for future topics, please let us know. As a non-profit service for the INGO community, we depend on your ideas and feedback!

Please feel free to forward this email to others who may be interested.

Finally, if you have not yet joined our community and would like to do so, to make sure you receive future updates, you can do so here.

With kind regards


The Baobab Team

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