Human Rights Watch: The $100 Million Decision

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CASE STUDY. This two-part case looks at a decision Human Rights Watch (HRW), a non-governmental organization (NGO) whose mission was to defend and protect the rights of people worldwide, had to make regarding a $100 million dollar donation.

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Human Rights Watch: The $100 Million Decision: Abstract

In 2010, multibillionaire George Soros offered to donate $100 million to Human Rights Watch (HRW) – this would be both the largest donation ever received by HRW and the largest ever made by Soros. Soros, a long-time supporter of the organization, had set several stringent conditions to the offer extended via his Open Society Foundations. HRW had to commit to (1) increasing its international presence, (2) increasing the proportion of donations coming from outside the U.S. to fifty percent of total contributions within five years, (3) diversifying the geographic origin of board members, and (4) raising additional funds to match Soros’s donation. While Part A of the case focuses on the original offer, Part B is set in 2020 and summarizes what happened at HRW after it accepted the donation.

Multi-part case

  • Part A
  • Part B (included only for Teaching license purchases)

Teaching objectives

  • Analyze the potential impact of large donations on NGOs.
  • Understand the role played by credibility and legitimacy in the initiatives of NGOs and how developing an international presence can contribute to them.
  • Understand how credibility and legitimacy can be gained through the structure of an NGO.

Main themes covered

  • Organizational strategy and credibility.

Concepts and theories related to the case

  • Credibility of transnational NGOs.

Additional information

Teachers notes are available for teachers only. Please contact HEC Montreal Case Centre.

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