In the face of severe resource shortages, community financing is increasingly being promoted as an alternative source of finance for public health providers. Non-government organisations have long-standing experience of community financing, but there is little documentation of the range of approaches. In this review, a sample of twenty NGOs was studied to explore these experiences. The range of approaches adopted by different organisations and the information available regarding success in achieving financial sustainability are described. Two preconditions for successful community financing (in this sense) are suggested by the evidence: collection of relevant background data relating to the proposed site of the community financing programme, and consultation with the community.\ud The Health Economics and Financing Programme is supported by the Overseas Development Administration.\ud The authors acknowledge the helpful co-operation of the non-government organisations (NGOs) included in the study. Of course, final responsibility for the paper remains with the authors
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