The literature on international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) has focused primarily on large INGOs, which capture the majority of total INGO spending but represent a small number of total INGOs. Over the past two decades, the number of INGOs has more than tripled throughout the global North, which has ushered in a decentralization of the sector as an emerging class of small- and medium-sized INGOs increasingly share the same space once occupied solely by large INGOs. This study focuses on these INGOs in transition to explore how they differ from large INGOs that receive significant government funding and their pathways to scale. Using an original dataset of 1371 Canadian INGOs, we explored comparative differences related to funding sources, overhead, organizational age, country coverage, staff, and religion between the transitioning and small-scale INGOs. Our results identified several general insights for how INGOs transition: (1) Large INGOs are less likely to articulate a religious motivation, which may impede government funding; (2) INGOs are more likely to be headquartered in Ontario, which is closer to federal government offices; (3) low overhead expenditures inhibit small-scale INGOs from transitioning to medium- and large-scale INGOs; (4) organizational age plays a critical factor to scale-up as INGOs increase their experience and expertise; (5) generous compensation to attract talented staff offers an under-valued pathway to scale. Finally, our results demonstrate the diversity among INGOs in Canada and problematizes singular scale-up pathways, while underscoring the necessity of future research to explore scaling strategies through individual case studies.

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Keywords Canada, Charities, Development, International non-governmental organizations (INGOs), Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Scale, Scaling, Transition
Persistent URL
Journal Social Sciences
Cochrane, L, & Davis, J.-M. (John-Michael). (2020). Scaling the INGO: What the development and expansion of Canadian INGOs tells us. Social Sciences, 9(8). doi:10.3390/SOCSCI9080140