The GDHO aims to provide basic information on all operational organisations that provide aid in humanitarian crisis contexts, measuring their individual and collective capacity and coverage.  Organisations tracked in the GDHO include:

  • The humanitarian agencies of the United Nations 
  • The international movement of the Red Cross/ Red Crescent (ICRC, IFRC, and National Societies)
  • International non-governmental organisations
  • National/local non-governmental organisations

Organisational information such as budget, personnel numbers and programming activities is gathered from annual reports, financial statements and other public sources, as well as directly from some organisations. Because of the large numbers of NGOs that provide aid in humanitarian emergencies, and the inherent difficulty in obtaining hard figures for all of them, the project has developed a system for imputing the missing data, as follows:

NGOs are grouped in tiers, based on ranges of their annual overseas program expenditures, as follows:

Tier 1 > $500M
Tier 2 = $100M-499M
Tier 3 = $50M-99M
Tier 4 = $5M-49M
Tier 5 = $2M -4.99M
Tier 6 < $2M

The tier groupings allow the system to provide averages, such as the average program expenditure-to-personnel ratio, which are used to calculate estimates for the missing data. This rests on the assumption that NGOs of a similar size and profile have similar operational configurations, costing and presence levels.

To avoid skewing the tier averages, certain INGOs are classified separately from this tier system, namely those that show a high level of operational expenditure but low level of operational presence (these are the INGOs that mainly program in-kind assistance or fund national partners without having field staff or operations of their own). 

First level imputation – using an organisation’s own past data to estimate missing data

For organizations where staffing numbers were available for some but not all years, the spreadsheet calculates the average ratio of “annual overseas program expenditure to field staff” for that organization, using figures from the years where that data was available, and use this ratio to calculate the staff number for the missing years for that individual organization.

Second level imputation – using tier averages to estimate missing data

For organizations where no staff numbers were available for any of the years, the staff figure is estimated based on the average expenditure/staffing ratio of the other organizations in the same tier.

When data is imputed, the proportion of international vs. national staff is also derived using the average percentage of internationals for all organizations in that tier.

Strengthening of estimates by ongoing research and agency input

The GDHO records the organisations' actual figures wherever they are available, through manual research.  The imputation formula is designed so that the imputations become more accurate the more actual numbers are used to derive the tier averages. When organisations are able to correct the imputations by providing the GDHO with the numbers that are not currently accessible by the research team, the remaining estimates are made more robust. For this reason the website includes an input form designed to encourage agencies to provide this information and to contribute to greater general transparency.

Data categories key

Assigned ID number

Full name of organisation.  If more than one language is commonly used, all translations are included, separated by a backslash

Abbreviated name
Abbreviation or shortened name, if applicable

INGO, National NGO, Red Cross/Crescent, or UN

International or national
International or national (i.e. operates in home country only)

Year founded
First year of operation

Year closed
If no longer in operation, year of closure

If applicable, website of organisation, or best source for summary information online

HQ country
Country of headquarters

Sector or focus area
Sector or focus area (multi-sector, or name of sector)

Religious or secular
Is organisation religious or secular?

If religious, what religion?

2006 staff
Total number of staff

2006 natl
Total number of national staff

2006 intl
Total number of international staff

% Int.
Percentage of total staff that are international

2006 Total Program Expenditure approx. in USD
Annual expenditure in USD

2006 Total Program Expenditure/staff
Annual expenditure divided by total number of staff

2006 Total Program Expenditure - inflation adjusted
Annual expenditure multiplied by inflation rate of current year

2006 Total Program Expenditure in original currency
Annual expenditure in original currency, if not in USD

2006 % Hum
Percentage of total program expenditures used for humanitarian expenditures

2006 HE approx in USD
Amount of total program expenditures used for humanitarian expenditures

2006 HE - inflation adjusted
Amount of humanitarian expenditures multiplied by inflation rate in current year

2006 HS
Total number of staff engaged in humanitarian activities