Summary We analyze the targeting of non-governmental organization (NGO) aid across countries in a multivariate regression framework, based on a dataset for 61 important international NGOs. While our results show that NGOs are more active in the neediest countries, we reject the hypothesis that NGOs complement official aid through engaging in difficult institutional environments. Rather, they replicate location choices of official “backdonors.” Moreover, NGOs follow other NGOs so that aid gets clustered. Finally, NGOs select recipient countries with common traits related to religion or colonial history. Our findings suggest that NGOs keep a low profile rather than distinguishing themselves from other donors. It remains open to debate, however, whether these findings also apply to the wide variety of smaller NGOs (not covered by our sample).