World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello speaking at the Make Poverty History: Road to 2015 photo exhibition on March 26, 2012. World Vision Australia is one of AusAID's top NGO partners. Photo by: Make Poverty History Australia / CC BY-NC-SA

The Australian government intends to bolster the role of non-governmental organizations in its aid program by planning to increase funding for NGOs from roughly 500 million Australian dollars ($482.2 million) in 2011-12 to AU$700 million–AU$800 million by 2015-16.

This increase reflects the rising prominence of NGOs in Australia’s strategy to achieve its development assistance goals. Australia contends that NGOs are effective partners in reaching the most marginalized, mobilizing public support and voluntary contributions for aid, and working in emergency situations.

Under the Australian Agency for International Development NGO Cooperation Program, funding is allocated to support accredited Australian NGOs worldwide. In 2011-12, AU$98 million was provided to 43 Australian NGOs. This increased to AU$106.35 million in 2012-13.

AusAID has also developed a new Civil Society Engagement Framework which maps out how the agency can work more effectively with civil society organizations toward poverty alleviation. The strategy draws on lessons from partnerships between AusAID and accredited Australian NGOs to help advance relationships with overseas NGOs. AusAID is striving to attract a more diverse range of delivery partners to increase the impact and effectiveness of its aid programs.

Here are AusAID’s top 10 NGO partners for 2012 based on data from the Australian government. Information is available only for contracts valued at AU$100,000 and above and signed in 2012, or not fully performed by Dec. 31, 2012. It is interesting to note that in 2012, there were more overseas NGOs that received significant funding from AusAID than in previous years.


Founded: 1972
Headquarters: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Executive director: Mahabub Hossain
AusAID funding: AU$212.7 million

BRAC is reportedly the largest NGO in the world, based on number of employees and people served. The organization has more than 100,000 staff members and reports reaching an estimated 126 million people with its services. BRAC’s programming focuses on empowering the poor, especially women and girls, by providing them microloans and self-employment opportunities, as well as health, education and legal services.

Save the Children Australia 

Founded: 1919
Headquarters: Melbourne, Australia
Executive director: Suzanne Dvorak
AusAID funding: AU$88.7 million

Save the Children Australia is part of the global development organization Save the Children International. The organization has branches in every Australian state and territory and operates programs at more than 100 sites around the country. Save the Children Australia leads the broader organization’s on-the-ground response to humanitarian emergencies for most of Asia and the Pacific. AusAID has also awarded contracts to Save the Children International, Save the Children Netherlands and Save the Children Norway.

International Relief and Development 

Founded: 1998
Headquarters: Virginia, USA
Chief Executive: Rev. Dr. Arthur B. Keys, Jr. and Vera Silverman
AusAID funding: AU$81.2 million

IRD has offices and activities in nearly 40 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific. IRD works in seven key service areas: community stabilization, infrastructure, health, agriculture, democracy and governance, relief and logistics. There were fraud allegations against IRD in relation to an activity funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development in Afghanistan, but AusAID has not found evidence of fraud for AusAID-funded projects being implemented by IRD.

CARE Australia 

Founded: 1945
Headquarters: Canberra, Australia
CEO: Julia Newton-Howes
AusAID funding: AU$62 million

CARE Australia is a charity and international humanitarian aid organization fighting global poverty, with a focus on empowering women and girls. The organization is one of the 14 national members of CARE International. It manages programs in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East and employs more than 1,700 staff members, at least 90 percent of whom are nationals of the countries where the organization operates.

The Asia Foundation 

Founded: 1954
Headquarters: San Francisco, USA
President: David D. Arnold
AusAID funding: AU$59 million

The Asia Foundation has programs that address issues affecting Asia, such as governance and law, economic development, women’s empowerment, environment, and regional cooperation. It works through a network of offices in 17 Asian countries and Washington, D.C. The foundation receives funding from a diverse group of bilateral and multilateral development agencies, foundations, corporations and individuals. In 2012, the organization provided nearly $100 million in direct program support and distributed textbooks and other educational materials valued at more than $30 million.

World Vision Australia 

Founded: 1966
Headquarters: Melbourne, Australia
CEO: Tim Costello
AusAID funding: AU$51.2 million

World Vision Australia is one of Australia’s largest charitable groups and reports helping more than 20 million people each year. With at least 500 staff members within Australia, the organization is part of World Vision International, which provides aid to 100 million globally, including 2.4 million children.

International Planned Parenthood Foundation 

Founded: 1952
Headquarters: London, United Kingdom
President: Naomi Seboni
AusAID funding: AU$50.3 million

IPPF is composed of 152 member associations working in 172 countries to provide sexual and reproductive health information, education and services through 65,000 service points. Those services include family planning, abortion, maternal and child health, and STI and HIV treatment, prevention and care. The organization is supported by millions of volunteers and 30,000 staff members.

Australian Volunteers International 

Founded: 1961
Headquarters: Melbourne, Australia
CEO: Dimity Fifer
AusAID funding: AU$43.4 million

Australian Volunteers International recruits skilled professionals from Australia and directs them to partner organizations in Asia, the Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. The organization’s work focuses on reducing poverty, promoting human rights and gender equality, increasing access to education and health services and protecting the environment. It has placed more than 9,000 volunteers and other field workers in 70 countries.

Oxfam Australia 

Founded: 1992
Headquarters: Melbourne, Australia
Executive Director: Andrew Hewett (resigned in 2012, replacement to be announced)
AusAID funding: AU$43.3 million

Oxfam Australia is one of the 17 organizations that belong to Oxfam International, which is known for responding to emergencies and lobbying decision-makers to reform policies that “reinforce poverty and injustice.” The organization funds projects of its partner organizations in 19 countries in Africa and Asia and the Pacific, and provides them with capacity-building assistance. It employs more than 700 people in 12 countries.

The Fred Hollows Foundation 

Founded: 1992
Headquarters: Sydney, Australia
CEO: Brian Doolan
AusAID funding: AU$38.4 million

Inspired by the work of the late eye doctor and humanitarian Fred Hollows, the foundation seeks to treat and prevent blindness and other vision problems in developing countries. The foundation has worked in at least 40 countries, reducing the cost of cataract operation to $25 in some poor countries and restoring the eyesight of more than 1 million people worldwide.

Read more:

Top AusAID private sector partners
Top global development organizations: The Devex lists

See our 2011 ranking of AusAID’s top NGO partners. Check out more funding trends analyses online, and sign up as an Executive Member to receive the information you need for your organization to thrive.

About the author

  • Sharmila Parmanand

    Sharmila is currently an instructor at the University of Vermont. She has a master’s degree in gender and development and has supervised and conducted research projects on human trafficking and related issues. She has also worked as a debate and public-speaking consultant in more than 20 countries.