How can INGOs get better? A surprisingly interesting conversation with some Finance Directors

Duncan Green - September 16, 2015

Spent an afternoon with a bunch of NGO Finance Directors this week. I was presenting Fit for the Future (memo to self, never write another paper about the future of INGOs – their thirst for navel-gazing is limitless). The discussion was more interesting than you might think – money is the lifeblood of the aid business, and FDs have the best overview of how that blood …

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Aid agency ex-staff are a huge wasted asset – how cd we set up an alumni scheme and what wd it do?

Duncan Green - September 3, 2015

I regularly hear from friends who have been cold called by their old university, seeking to extract money from them for the alma mater (apparently hungry current students are particularly convincing). That got me thinking – how come aid organizations don’t do more with their alumni? Because Exfam staff (as we call them) are a wasted asset: many go on to influential jobs elsewhere in …

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How can big aid organizations become Fit for the Future? Summary of my new paper

Duncan Green - June 17, 2015

My navel-gazing paper on the future of INGOs and other big aid beasts came out last week. Here’s a summary I wrote for the Guardian. Thanks to all those who fed in on earlier drafts. Oxfam’s Deputy CEO Penny Lawrence gives a semi-official response. A miasma of existential doubt seems to hang over large chunks of the aid industry, even here in the UK, where …

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Oxfam Big Cheese responds to my paper on whether INGOs are ‘Fit for the Future’

Duncan Green - June 17, 2015

In a spirit of transparency, innovation, etc, we thought it might be interesting to print an actual response from Oxfam’s senior management – this is from Penny Lawrence, Oxfam GB’s Deputy Chief Executive. And what’s Oxfam’s response to Duncan’s challenges?  Well it would be churlish, of course, (if understandable) to ask what experience of actually running a large organisation Duncan has!! [DG’s answer – ‘none, …

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Scale, Failure, Replication and Gardening: Continuing the Discussion on the future of Big Aid.

Duncan Green - April 22, 2015

I’ve been having a series of great conversations on the draft of my new paper on the future of INGOs (plenty of time if you want to comment – here it is INGO futures, Green v5 April 2015 (edited)). Some of these have been under Chatham House Rules, so no names/organizations, but here are some of the standout topics that have emerged so far: Scale: …

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Fit for the Future? Systems thinking and the role of International NGOs – draft paper for your comments

Duncan Green - April 14, 2015

I’m committing potential hara-kiri by giving a DFID staff talk on the future of INGOs tomorrow lunchtime (Wednesday) – if you’re an FP2P reader in DFID, do please come along. Here’s the background and a call for comments on the draft paper I’m presenting: (INGO futures, Green v5 April 2015 (edited)). Just before Christmas, Oxfam boss Mark Goldring collared me in the canteen and off the …

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You can’t take a supertanker white-water rafting: what future for International NGOs?

Duncan Green - December 10, 2014

This post also appears on the ‘Practice for Change’ blog I try to avoid those endless bouts of INGO navel gazing, but don’t always succeed. Which is lucky, because recently, I had a really interesting session on ‘the future of INGOs’ at La Trobe University’s Institute for Human Security and Social Change in Melbourne. I kicked off summarising a recent paper (The End of the …

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The future of DFID, partnerships, aid and INGOs, c/o Alex Evans

Duncan Green - September 18, 2014

Alex Evans always gives good bullet point. A former SPAD (special adviser) to DFID, turned academic/consultant at the Center for International Cooperation, last week he gave some NGOs a whirlwind tour of his big picture thinking on development, based on a recent submission (with Owen Barder) to the UK parliament’s International Development Committee. Here are some highlights. On DFID: Next year is DFID’s 18th birthday, …

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How should INGOs prepare for the coming disruption? Reading the aid/development horizon scans (so that you don’t have to)

Duncan Green - February 21, 2014

Gosh, INGOs do find themselves fascinating. Into my inbox plop regular exercises in deep navel-gazing –both excessively self-regarding and probably necessary. They follow a pretty standard formula: Everything is changing. Mobile phones! Rise of China! Everything is speeding up. Instant feedback! Fickle consumers! Shrinking product cycles! You, in contrast are excruciatingly slow, bureaucratic and out of touch. I spit on you and your logframes. Transform …

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‘Bricifying’ international NGOs is hard work: the challenges facing Oxfam India

admin - November 5, 2012

I spent last week trying to understand an intriguing experiment. About five years ago, Oxfam GB’s ‘white men in shorts’ left India, alongwith all the other Oxfam affiliates, and a new, completely Indian-run Oxfam India took over. All part of ‘Bricification’ within the Oxfam family (there’s an Oxfam Brazil in the pipeline too). So what’s changed? After a period of reflection Oxfam India has opted …

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