More Than Altruism

More Than Altruism: The Politics of Private Foreign Aid

Brian H. Smith
Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 374
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  • Book Info
    More Than Altruism
    Book Description:

    As government officials and political activists are becoming increasingly aware, international nonprofit agencies have an important political dimension: although not self-serving, these private voluntary organizations (PVOs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) seek social changes of which many of their financial contributors are unaware. As PVOs and NGOs receive increasing subsidies from their home governments in the United States, Canada, and Europe, they are moving away from short-term relief commitments in developing countries and toward longer-term goals in health, education, training, and small-scale production. Showing that European and Canadian NGOs focus more on political change as part of new development efforts than do their U.S. counterparts, Brian Smith presents the first major comparative study of the political aspect of PVOs and NGOs. Smith emphasizes the paradoxes in the private-aid system, both in the societies that send aid and in those that receive it. Pointing out that international nonprofit agencies are in some instances openly critical of nation-state interests, he asks how these agencies can function in a foreign-aid network intended as a support for those same interests. He concludes that compromises throughout the private-aid networkand some secrecymake it possible for institutions with different agendas to work together. In the future, however, serious conflicts may develop with donors and nation states.

    Originally published in 1990.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6095-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-2)
  7. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 3-26)

    Since the 1960s there has been a steady increase in private foreign aid. In 1964 North Atlantic private voluntary organizations (PVOs) or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) sent overseas approximately $2.8 billion (in 1986 dollars), and by 1980 their annual resource transfers to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin American totaled $4.7 billion—a 68 percent increase in real value in just sixteen years. By the 1980s there were over forty-six hundred PVOs/NGOs (including church-related missionary and service agencies, secular nonprofit organizations, credit and cooperative associations, foundations, and educational and labor groups) that received donations and grants in North Atlantic countries...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Historical Role of Private Foreign Aid as an Extension of North Atlantic Nation-State Interests Abroad
    (pp. 27-44)

    Charitable organizations have a four-century history of international activity. Their past includes a variety of activities ranging from religious evangelization, cultural promotion, and relief aid—all of which long predate their more recent focus on development and continue to characterize part of their overseas work today. One purpose of the next three chapters is to highlight some of the most salient events and turning points in this history and to show how from the beginning governments and nonprofits collaborated in the pursuit of common goals abroad. Another purpose of these chapters is to show some of the historical differences among...

  9. CHAPTER THREE U.S. Private Foreign Aid since World War II: Exporting the American Dreams of Self-Reliance and Democracy
    (pp. 45-74)

    In the immediate postwar years, U.S. PVOs continued to play a critical role in overseas relief. Their activities expanded considerably as liberated European countries faced after May 1945 the immense task of recovery. Although the U.S. government in 1948 inaugurated the five-year Marshall Plan (valued at $59.2 billion) for the reconstruction of Europe, 500 million people—almost one-third of the world’s population—were suffering from food shortages. As a result, private contributions to PVOs for relief and reconstruction (especially in Europe) increased dramatially in the late 1940s.

    American citizens with ethnic, family, and religious ties to Europe wanted to assist...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR European and Canadian Private Foreign Aid since World War II: Creating New Modes of Political and Economic Influence Abroad in the Post-Colonial Era
    (pp. 75-111)

    Immediately after World War II several new international charities emerged in Western Europe and Canada to assist the victims of war and aid in the reconstruction of Europe, and many received subsidies from their home governments. Some European governments that had remained neutral during the conflict (e.g., Sweden, Denmark, and Switzerland) engaged in substantial efforts during the immediate postwar period to assist neighboring nations plagued with famine and homelessness. Sweden sent 2 percent of its GNP to war-torn Europe in the late 1940s in a “Marshall Plan” of its own, and much of this through nonprofit organizations since it did...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE Current Diversity in Private Foreign Aid Objectives: American Pragmatism versus European Utopianism
    (pp. 112-161)

    Given some important differences between the evolution of PVOs and NGOs, one would expect that the current priorities among these voluntary agencies might also be diverse. In the interviews I conducted in the early 1980s in Europe, Canada, and the United States, I found this to be the case.

    The PVO community as a whole is still more oriented to relief of immediate suffering abroad than is its European and Canadian counterpart, which tends to place more of its resources on longer-term developmental programs. Proportionately, far more nonprofits in Europe and Canada also espouse significant political change abroad and attempt...

  12. CHAPTER SIX Current Trade-offs among the American Partners: PVOs, the U.S. Government, and Private Donors
    (pp. 162-195)

    Historically North Atlantic nonprofits engaged in foreign assistance have received support from both the private and the public sectors. For over four hundred years citizens and governments alike have found them attractive conduits to assist the needy abroad for reasons that include, but often go well beyond, altruism. Nonprofits have served as useful mechanisms for concerned citizens to alleviate suffering and promote development abroad. They have allowed citizens to export their preferred economic strategies or visions for more just society, which official aid channels are incapable of doing. North Atlantic governments likewise have historically relied on nonprofits to pursue interests...

  13. CHAPTER SEVEN Current Trade-offs among the European and Canadian Partners: NGOs, Governments, and Private Donors
    (pp. 196-229)

    It is in Europe and Canada that the sharpest apparent contradictions between nonprofits and their public- and private-sector supporters exist. Not only are many NGOs in these other North Atlantic societies more explicitly political in mission definition, but these political agendas often are in direct opposition to official government policy positions and the attitudes, lifestyles, and economic interests of many citizens.

    Despite such contradictory interests, there are also shared objectives that cut across all three partner groups. In fact, a modus vivendi exists among NGOs, governments, and private donors allowing those in each cluster to pursue some of their core...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT Threat or Support for Internal Stability in the Third World? The Impact of Private Foreign Aid in Latin America
    (pp. 230-278)

    The last pieces of the private foreign aid network that need to be explained are the relationships within developing countries of indigenous nonprofits, their clientele at the local level, and host country government officials. Although there are sufficient overlapping interests among donors, nonprofits, and governments to sustain the private aid system in the North Atlantic region (despite apparent contradictions and ongoing tensions), it is not clear why those at the receiving end of the network can cooperate.

    If many NGOs have as one of their prime goals the empowerment of the poor in developing countries to push for a redistribution...

  15. CHAPTER NINE Conclusions
    (pp. 279-284)

    The apparent paradoxes involved in the transnational private aid network presented in chapter 1 do have an underlying rationality. This makes it possible for the six major partner groups (private donors, North Atlantic PVOs/NGOs, North Atlantic governments, Third World nonprofits, host country governments, grass-roots recipients) with seemingly contradictory agendas to collaborate in making the system work. There are multiple agendas being pursued by several groups at once, and several of the actors are not unitary but made up of clusters of subgroups with different objectives that must be balanced, sometimes in creative tension. This is particularly true for private donors,...

  16. APPENDIX A Research Methodology
    (pp. 285-290)
  17. APPENDIX B U.S., Canadian, and European Nonprofit Organizations in Survey
    (pp. 291-293)
  18. APPENDIX C Aid Resources of 205 Largest U.S. (1981), Canadian (1980), and European (1980) Nonprofit Organizations
    (pp. 294-306)
  19. APPENDIX D Questionnaire Administered to Policymakers in Forty-five U.S., Canadian, and European Nonprofit Organizations Supporting Programs in Latin America (October 1982–September 1983)
    (pp. 307-311)
  20. APPENDIX E Colombian Nonprofit Organizations in Survey
    (pp. 312-316)
  21. APPENDIX F Questionnaire Administered to Policymakers in Thirty-six Colombian Nonprofit Organizations (June–August 1984)
    (pp. 317-326)
  22. Bibliography
    (pp. 327-346)
  23. Index
    (pp. 347-352)