Number of organisations founded per year since 1945, per type of organisation

By Clara Egger

This graph shows the number of humanitarian organisations created per year, focusing on the five main organisational types, which represent 80% of the organisations included in the Humanitarian Organisations Database (HOD). Note that the HOD classifies organisations according to a larger range of 12 main types (see codebook). 

These five types can be grouped into three categories, reflecting different conceptions of humanitarianism. 

1) The first category - which could be referred to as state-led humanitarianism reflects how governments either individually or collectively engage in humanitarian assistance. Our data show that key moments of state-led humanitarianism are:

  • The set up of the UN system after WW2 and the creation of leading inter-governmental humanitarian agencies such as the World Food Programme (created in 1961), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (1950) or the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (1949)
  • The decade from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies corresponding to the creation of the first donor agencies in Europe (Denmark, Norway) and the United States (the US Agency for International Development in 1961)
  • The post Cold War period where the adoption of the UN GA resolution 46/182 on the coordination of humanitarian assistance led to the creation of state entities to coordinate aid efforts in crisis affected societies, the creation of new donor agencies in Europe but also the set-up (particularly marked after 2005) of the UN cluster system. 

2) The second category relates to Red Cross / Red Crescent humanitarianism. Despite some rare cases (such as, for example, Kosovo, where a Serbian and an Albanian National Society exist), only one national society can be recognised per country. As a result, the creation rate for this category follows patterns of state creation at the international level. For example, former colonies that became independent states created their RC / RC societies in the 1960s and 1970s, while the last example of the South Sudanese National Society in 2011 reflects the founding of the state of South Sudan. 

3) The last category regroups NGOs and NGOs federations in non-governmental humanitarianism, although the level of autonomy of humanitarian non-governmental organisations vis-à-vis governments varies considerably across countries and contexts. The creations of NGOs and their coordination within federations are recorded every year, yet their creation rate increases substantially after the 1990s. 

This Expertise Note was contributed by Dr Clara Egger in collaboration with the Humanitarian Encyclopedia team, based on analysis of the Humanitarian Organisation Database (HOD).

Last update : Mar 30, 2021