A Letter from Our CEO and President

On behalf of InterAction’s member organizations, we are pleased to present our 2016 Foreign Assistance Briefing Book. InterAction is the largest alliance of U.S.-based nonprofits, commonly referred to as U.S. NGOs, operating around the world to advance the lives of people living in the poorest and most marginalized conditions. This briefing book captures and applies the lessons learned from NGOs’ decades of on-the-ground experience responding to humanitarian crises and helping to build equitable and sustainable societies throughout the world. We have selected a range of areas in which we believe the U.S. plays an important leadership role through its foreign assistance, including global health, food security, and humanitarian response and identified opportunities for action as a member of the 115th Congress or the new administration. Each issue area is outlined in a succinct two-page document.

Whether our members specialize in improving access to education, promoting democratic governance, or providing emergency assistance to people fleeing conflicts, they are all united by one common mission—making the world a more peaceful, just, and prosperous place. InterAction members represent the diversity of America; many are faith-based or faith-founded and over 60,000 congregations support their work. They embody the American people’s compassion and desire to build a better, safer world.

Partnering with U.S. NGOs should be a key part of the U.S. government’s strategy for promoting effective global development and humanitarian assistance. Our members’ activities are directly supported by an estimated $8.3 billion per year of private funding thanks to generous contributions from the American people, foundations, and businesses; this leverages the $3.7 billion per year our members receive from the federal government. As it implements reforms and initiatives such as the Global Food Security Act, Electrify Africa, and the Water for the World Act, the U.S. government should continue to explore ways to leverage the knowledge, expertise, and private resources from the NGO community by prioritizing the participation of U.S. NGOs as a thought leader, private donor, partner, and implementer.

At the heart of America’s foreign assistance portfolio is poverty-focused development assistance, which is our country’s most important tool for life saving assistance in the world’s poorest and most unstable societies. Development assistance through partnerships between the U.S. government, NGOs, and the private sector advances both the ability of people to improve their own welfare and U.S. political, economic, and security interests. Fostering economic growth in some of the world’s poorest places helps build new markets for U.S. businesses. Building peaceful communities through good governance will help decrease the number of countries that are vulnerable to violent conflicts, terrorism, and international crimes—advancing our security here at home. Through a bipartisan consensus, Republican and Democratic leadership have consistently viewed development assistance as a core tool of U.S. foreign policy to address American interests while promoting our democratic ideals and role as a compassionate nation.        

Our foreign assistance efforts have contributed to improving the basic well-being of the world’s poorest one billion people. Over the past 15 years, the world has halved extreme poverty and made drastic improvements on critical indicators in the areas of literacy, girls’ education, hunger, infant mortality, and overall life expectancy. Today, the world aims to extend beyond the much-needed task of addressing basic needs by committing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These include commitments to broader, deeper, and more ambitious goals that aim to end hunger and poverty by 2030 through empowering individuals, civil society, and national governments to build resilient nations with effective institutions.

To successfully achieve the SDGs, the U.S. government and NGOs must evolve our structures and roles. Critical to this evolution is a sustained and increased emphasis on partnerships between the U.S. government and NGOs, as well as the private sector, civil society, and foreign governments. Increasing these kinds of partnerships will promote effective solutions to development challenges through country ownership and increased engagement with civil society. Through working closely with U.S. NGOs that have decades-long relationships with local communities, the U.S. government can better respond to the needs of local populations. It is also essential for the U.S. government to provide more flexible, long-term funding enabling governments and NGOs to implement programs that address current challenges while building resilient communities that can effectively respond to natural disasters and prevent future conflict.

This briefing book contains a wealth of information and policy recommendations on how the U.S. government, NGOs, and other partners can work together on a range of pressing foreign assistance challenges. Nearly every InterAction staff member contributed in some way by coordinating the work of members, writing and editing, and reaching out to knowledgeable subject experts. We are grateful to InterAction member organizations and the InterAction staff for their contributions, professionalism, and dedication. We hope that our efforts will be useful to our readers.

Please view InterAction’s website for more resources at www.interaction.org. If you would like further information about these papers, please contact InterAction at (202) 667-8227.

Samuel A. Worthington
CEO, InterAction

Lindsay Coates
President, InterAction

Download FABB 2016

Foreign Assistance Briefing Book:   2016  |  2013  |  2011  |  2008