Decentralization Of INGOs: Toward Federation

Decentralization is the process of transferring administrative powers from a central authority to regional or local offices.1 The process is intended to improve NGO operations by making them more efficient, responsive, and adaptable. Decentralization typically can be described as taking three forms:

Localization – where representatives of the central authority are relocated from the headquarters to regional or local offices. Some management and financial responsibilities are similarly redistributed, but broader authority remains centralized.

Delegation – where management and financial responsibilities are transferred to semi- autonomous regional or local offices.

Devolution – where administrative responsibilities and authority are relinquished by the central authority to autonomous regional or local offices. This form can lead to federation, in which an organization’s administrative powers are constitutionally divided between the central authority and regional or local authorities, the latter having extensive authority over their own operations and finances.

Key insights:

  • INGOs are increasingly shifting toward a more decentralized, local control

  • The humanitarian sector will shift away from the historical Western-centric model