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Home arrow Environment arrow Saving the Environment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Organizational Dynamics and Effectiveness of NGOs in Cameroon
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Funding Sources

The high dependence of environmental and other NGOs in sub-Saharan Africa on funds from abroad has been widely noted (Elliot, 1987; Vivian, 1994; Derman, 1995; Edwards and Hulme, 1995; Chaplowe and Madden, 1996; Neubert, 2001; Holmen, 2010; Sachedina, 2010); however, only Beer’s (2012) Kenyan study provides a thorough examination of funding sources for a large sample of NGOs. He found that international NGOs, including many focused on development, were the most important source of funds. They were followed by aid agencies from developed countries, the Kenyan government, and United Nations agencies. Membership dues were also a major source for some NGOs, but the amounts involved were small. Individual donations from Kenya or abroad were rarely significant, and only 10 percent of Kenyan environmental NGOs were able to offer grants or contracts to others.

Although we were unable to obtain reliable information about the exact amounts of funds received from various sources, all of our interviewees were able to list the sources of their funding, and this information is itself revealing. Table 7.1 shows the percentage of NGOs that received funding from no sources, one source, two sources, three sources, four sources, or five sources (the maximum number reported). The information is

Table 7.1 Percentage ofNGOs receiving funds from 0to5 sources byNGO type and source of funds

All NGOs

Number of sources

Foreign sources

Cameroonian sources

All sources

0

25%

31%

4%

1

25%

42%

17%

2

25%

13%

27%

3

17%

12%

17%

4

8%

2%

29%

5

0%

0%

6%

Total

100%

100%

100%

Mean number of sources

1.58

1.10

2.67

International NGOs

Number of sources

Foreign sources

Cameroonian sources

All sources

0

0%

100%

0%

1

20%

0%

20%

2

20%

0%

20%

3

20%

0%

20%

4

40%

0%

40%

5

0%

0%

0%

Total

100%

100%

100%

Mean number of sources

2.8

0

2.8

Type I Cameroonian NGOs

Number of sources

Foreign sources

Cameroonian sources

All sources

0

0%

37%

0%

1

21%

58%

5%

2

32%

5%

26%

3

37%

0%

26%

4

10%

0%

42%

5

0%

0%

0%

Total

100%

100%

100%

Mean number of sources

2.4

.7

3.1

Type II Cameroonian NGOs

Number of sources

Foreign sources

Cameroonian sources

Foreign &

Cameroonian sources

0

57%

19%

10%

1

23%

43%

33%

2

19%

19%

24%

3

0%

19%

14%

4

0%

0%

19%

5

0%

0%

0%

Total

100%

100%

100%

Mean number of sources

.6

1.4

2.0

N = 52.

shown separately for foreign sources, Cameroonian sources, and foreign and Cameroonian sources combined. We report it separately for all NGOs combined and then from international, Type I, and Type II NGOs separately.

Not surprisingly, faced with major obstacles to raising substantial funds within Cameroon, the majority of the NGOs had successfully sought out funding from abroad. As Table 7.1 shows, the average NGO reported receiving funds from 1.58 foreign sources, compared to only 1.1 sources within Cameroon; however, a quarter received no foreign funds at all. On the other hand, almost a third received no funding from within Cameroon. The dependence on foreign funds is, in fact, even larger that these numbers might suggest, as all the evidence available indicates that the amount of money received from the average foreign source is considerably greater than from the average Cameroonian source.

The table also shows sharp differences in the extent of reliance of foreign funds according to the type of organization. All of the funding sources reported by the five international NGOs were headquartered outside Cameroon, compared to 78 percent of those for Type I NGOs and a very low 27 percent for Type II NGOs. In one sense, these differences are not surprising, as receipt of foreign funds was one of the criteria used to define the two types (see chapter 3), but the differences are nevertheless truly striking. None of the Type I organizations reported getting by without any foreign funds, and almost half had three or more different sources. A full 57 percent of Type II NGOs, on the other hand, received no funding at all from abroad, and none had more than two foreign funding sources. Only one Type I organization reported more than a single Cameroonian funding source, compared to 40 percent of Type II organizations. One result of this is that the funding sources of Type I organizations were considerably more numerous, averaging 3.1 per NGO, as compared to 2.0 for Type II NGOs. These findings are consistent with Beer’s (2012) research. Almost all of his “low-capacity” NGOs had budgets under $5,000 and received all of their funding from domestic sources. Budget size and reliance on foreign funds were greater for “medium-capacity” organizations, and greater still for “high-capacity” NGOs.

Table 7.2 shows the percentage of the 52 NGOs that reported that they had received funds from various types of foreign sources during the past year. Thirty-three percent of the NGOs mentioned receiving grants from foundations, charities, and nonprofit organizations abroad. Many of these, such as the Rain Forest Fund and the Forest Peoples Program, supported forestry-related projects, perhaps helping to explain their prominence among NGO goals and activities. Several others focused on wildlife or biodiversity protection or on water resources. Twenty-nine

Table 7.2 Percentage ofNGOs reporting grants from various foreign sources

Source of funds

Percentage reporting

Foreign/international foundations/charities/nonprofit organizations

33

Development agencies of specific foreign countries

29

United Nations or UN agencies

23

Foreign branches or international headquarters of IUCN, WWF, or Global Water Project

23

Foreign embassies/consulates

13

European Union agencies

10

Grants/contracts from foreign corporations

6

Nondevelopment agencies of foreign governments

4

African Development Bank

4

Foreign universities

4

World Bank

2

Other

8

N = 52.

percent of the NGOs said they received funds from the development agencies of foreign countries, including prominently GTZ (German), SNV (Dutch), and USAID (the United States); 23 percent had received money from United Nations agencies, especially UNESCO and the UN Development Program. An additional 23 percent had received money from international environmental NGOs, such as the WWF and the IUCN. (This includes a few cases where the Cameroonian branch of such an organization received funds from its international headquarters or a branch in another nation.) Thirteen percent of the NGOs had received funding from a foreign embassy or consulate, primarily from the Americans, British, or Dutch, and 10 percent had obtained funds from a European Union source.

The majority of the NGOs we studied also reported relying on sources of revenue from within Cameroon as a supplement—or in some cases as a substitute—for funding from abroad. Forty-four percent of the NGOs mentioned donations from members of their board, staff, or local supporters; that is, they rely on local network ties and donors who are personally committed to the NGO. Such appeals can be effective, but their fundraising potential is ordinarily rather limited. Twenty-three percent mentioned revenues from the sale of products produced in their operations, such as honey and various handicrafts; however, the NGOs almost never have the resources to market their products nationally or internationally. Seventeen percent received some revenue from consulting services to government or other NGOs rendered by their staff. Finally, 10 percent had grants or contracts from Cameroonian government ministries, and

8 percent had grants or subcontracts from other environmental NGOs. While we cannot report precise quantitative data, it was clear that the amount of revenue received from these sources, with the exception of a small number of Cameroonian government contracts, was very small. This low level of support is not surprising in view of the many competing claims on the government’s limited resources, clientistic arrangements in allocations of government funds, and perceptions by some government leaders that NGOs could become a threat (see chapter 8).

Taken together, these findings highlight the difficult financial circumstances facing the 47 percent of Type II NGOs that had no revenue at all from abroad. The poorest of the poor were the two organizations that reported neither any foreign nor Cameroonian revenue but were dependent entirely on volunteer labor.

One concrete indicator of the advantage of foreign funding is the NGOs’ staff size and expertise. Cameroonian NGOs with two-thirds or more of their funding sources abroad averaged 11 full-time employees, while those with two-thirds or more of their funding sources within Cameroon had, on average, only 2.4. International funding was also associated with staff expertise. Among NGOs with two-thirds or more of their funding sources abroad, 44 percent listed a financial specialist and 22 percent had a technical expert among their five key staff members. The corresponding percentages for those with most of their funding from within Cameroon were only 31 and 6 percent.

 
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