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The author argues that the distinctive values common to many NGOs give them a particular advantage over other types of organisation. This perspective should be seen in the context of donors’ increasing willingness to fund non-traditional development actors, including the military, parastatals, quangos, private service contractors, and consultancy firms. To distinguish themselves from other recipients of aid funding, NGOs need to identify, articulate, and nurture their core values and identity. The paper identifies some of the key indicators that best reflect values and organisational capacities that distinguish NGOs from other agencies. The concern is that if NGOs lose their core values they lose their role.

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