Top global development employers in London: A primer

A view of the London skyline. The city is home to a number of nonprofits and consultancies. Photo by: Gabriel Villena / CC BY

As one of the largest international development donors, the United Kingdom boasts a vibrant mix of influential, globally active nonprofits and consultancies. Most of them are headquartered in London, home of the Commonwealth Secretariat and Department for International Development.

Here’s a look at some of the main development organizations in London. For more information on the U.K.’s top 500 charities, check the Charities Direct website created by CaritasDirect. To find the latest vacancies, search the Devex website, which hosts the largest jobs board in international development.

Action Aid GB

Became an international organization in December 2003 and moved its headquarters from London to Johannesburg. Follows a rights-based approach to international development.

Adam Smith International

A leading international advisory firm providing technical expertise on a variety of issues including good governance, civil service reform, institutional capacity building, decentralization, economic reform, and educational and social development.


A U.K. association for non-governmental organizations working in international development, with more than 370 members. Until 2009, known as British Overseas NGOs for Development.

British Council

Founded in 1934 and functioning as an executive non-departmental public body, a public corporation (in terms of accounting) and a charity. Bills itself as the U.K.’s “international cultural relations body.”

British Red Cross

A volunteer-led humanitarian organization that helps people in crisis around the globe. Recently launched its first-ever manifesto, which highlights the importance of emergency preparedness and impartial humanitarian assistance, among other issues.


A development finance institution owned by DfID and focused on private-sector development in Africa and Asia. Not to be confused with Washington-based CDC Development Solutions.

CfBT Education Trust

An education consultancy and service organization that provides education for public benefit both in the U.K. and internationally. Employs 2,500 worldwide.

Charles Kendall

A family-owned business established in 1945 by former Army Captain Charles “Bill” Kendall. Focuses on everything from government and commercial procurement to export packing, freight, logistics and development aid consultancy.

Christian Aid

One of the most recognized U.K. development NGOs, Christian Aid focuses on a variety of issues, including gender equality and access to water, health and education of families and children around the world.

Commonwealth Secretariat

A voluntary association of 54 countries – most of them former British colonies and territories – that support each other and work together toward shared goals in democracy and development, the Commonwealth Secretariat works alongside the Commonwealth Foundation and the Commonwealth of Learning. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is head of the Commonwealth.

Crown Agents

Grew out of the British government into a leading global development consultancy with a focus on public finance, banking, investment, institutional development, supply chains and training.

Department for International Development
DfID jobs | DfID projects

One of the world’s largest bilateral donors with an increasing focus on value-for-money and initiatives focused on the environment, as well as maternal and child health.

Ernst & Young

One of the world’s largest professional services firms and one of the Big Four auditors, along with PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte and KPMG. Focuses on a variety of assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Headquartered in London.

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
EBRD jobs | EBRD projects

A multilateral agency which provides loan and equity finance, guarantees, leasing facilities and trade finance to banks, industries and businesses. Typically funds up to 35 percent of a project’s total cost.

Institute for Public Policy Research

Seeks to promote social justice, democratic participation, and economic and environmental sustainability in government policy.

International Planned Parenthood Federation

A charity whose global headquarters is in London. Provides health services such as counseling, HIV treatment, mother-and-child health care and family planning to millions of people around the globe each year. Its six regional offices are in Nairobi, Tunis, Brussels, New Delhi, Kuala Lumpur and New York.

Islamic Relief Worldwide

An international relief and development charity working in more than 25 countries to promote sustainable livelihoods, education, health and nutrition, orphans and child welfare, water and sanitation, and emergency relief and disaster preparedness.

Marie Stopes

One of the largest providers of family planning services worldwide working closely with governments in countries from Afghanistan to Tanzania.

Mott MacDonald

A global development consultancy with expertise in management and engineering. Based in Croydon, just south of London.

ONE Campaign

An advocacy group co-founded by U2 singer Bono that as been pushing a variety of causes – from African debt relief to aid transparency.


Provides technical expertise, short-term consultancy and long-term management services in the health and social sectors.

Overseas Development Institute

Britain’s leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues. Works with public and private sector partners in the industrialized and developing world to inspire and inform policy and practice and to the reduce poverty, alleviate suffering and create sustainable livelihoods.

Oxfam GB

Oxfam works in emergency response, international development and advocacy, with a strong focus on food safety and agriculture.


The Panos Network is a dynamic global partnership of eight independent institutes – including London-based Panos Pictures and Panos London – working to ensure that information is effectively used to foster public debate, pluralism and democracy.


One of the world’s largest global consultancies, headquartered in London. With a wealth of experience in regulation, risk, governance, operations, strategy and growth, talent, innovation and technology, and sustainability and climate change.

Save the Children

Works in more than 120 countries through its 29 country affiliates, providing food, health care, education and other services to children and their families. Its international headquarters is in London.

Other London-based organizations supporting international development causes include:

Big Lottery Fund
Charities Aid Foundation
Garfield Weston Foundation
GRM International
HelpAge International
Maxwell Stamp
Wellcome Trust

Did we forget any major aid organization in London? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

  • Rolf Rosenkranz

    Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.