The role of Non-Government Organisations (NGO's) in the process of development in Third World countries has become a focus of attention over the last decade. Their work is seen as an important contribution in the development of the human resource. Most NGO's have become users of overseas aid. In recent years they have been challenged by the overseas funding agencies to become financially self-reliant. This study enquires about the nature of the meaning of the concept of self-reliance, whether it is a universally held value or whether it is a logical by-product of the world capitalist system. The YMCA's of Fiji and Western Samoa are used as case studies along with some other NGO's in Fiji and Western Samoa. The study concludes that the YMCA of Western Samoa is not likely to become more than fifty percent financially self-reliant because of a severely limited resource base, especially the absence of a sizable middle class. It is also immersed in a national climate of dependency from the family, community and government level. The YMCA of Fiji is making progress and will in all likelihood achieve operational financial self-reliance but in setting its goals on self-reliance it has been captured by the middle class and has reduced its programme with the poor and the rural people.