Some reflections as two major Irish NGOs announce their merger

30/07/2014 at 7:01 am 2 comments

Earlier this week, two of Ireland’s significant development NGOs announced their merger. SelfHelp Africa and Gorta decided to continue working together as one organisation.

News of the merger was well covered in the Irish media:

– “Development sector ‘shake-up’ will benefit Africa

“Gorta and Self Help Africa join forces to fight poverty”

“Merger of two Africa charities to save €600k”

Our reaction was a positive one: We congratulate Self Help Africa and Gorta on their decision to work together through this merger.

We believe that mergers can add value to the sector, just as we know that there are many other levels at which Irish NGOs coordinate to strengthen their impact in the long run, through peer network mechanisms such as Dóchas as well as through humanitarian coordinating bodies.

The work of Irish development NGOs has been praised at home and abroad for its high quality and focus and Irish NGOs are recognised the world over for their impact, commitment and high levels of transparency. They are a diverse group of organisations, proud of their different approaches, but also proud of the many ways in which they work together, learn from each other and leverage each other’s areas of expertise and influence.


A lot has been written (see list of articles at the bottom) on the need for the non-profit sector to “rationalise” and “consolidate”.

But often the assumption is that, as corporate mergers make sense in the private sector, the non-profit sector should follow suit. However, there is one big difference between the for-profit and the not-for-profit worlds:

For aid agencies, their impact and clout does not come from size, but from the strength of their bond with the people they are trying to help.

No one NGO, however big, can hope to support all of the world’s poor people and communities. And that is why it is so important that NGOs coordinate and cooperate. We believe that a diverse range of NGOs, each working according to their own strengths, yet united through coordinating mechanisms and peer networks such as Dóchas, can respond nimbly, flexibly and effectively to the many different facets of poverty and injustice.


And this cooperation and coordination can take many forms, many of which will not be visible to members of the public. But Irish NGOs are forever seeking new and effective ways to maximise their impact by making use of the power and ideas of all those who can make a difference – governments, companies, media and other NGOs. And they are committed to core professional standards.

In short: The diversity of the NGO sector is a strength, not a weakness. And it is a direct reflection of the many ways in which their supporters – ordinary people in Ireland moved by the injustice of global poverty and exclusion – are seeking to end poverty.


Also read:






Entry filed under: NGOs. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Martin Ballantyne  |  01/08/2014 at 6:43 am

    Best wishes to all concerned and especially for the great work you are doing near us in Kenya, Martin Ballantyne – FOL

  • 2. R Storey  |  01/08/2014 at 11:52 am

    A small step which needs to be replicated to reduce the excessive waste and duplication of Irish NGOs in overseas development.
    To point to strength in diversity is to put a spin on the realities of the inefficiencies implicit in such a number of NGOs often undertaking work for which they have little expertise or have to develop expertise already available and underused in the sector.
    The true reasons for the excessive numbers of duplicating NGOs is related to their funding base rather than any expertise or ‘value for money’ qualification claimed.
    The public may be dismissed as not understanding but increasingly the public are catching on that the multitude of NGOs represent wasted opportunities of scale efficiencies as well as the impossibility (given the limited allocation) of good regulation and accountability.


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