NGOs

What can NGOs/others learn from DFID’s shift to ‘adaptive development’?

Duncan Green - July 23, 2015
adaptation

Got back from holiday last week and went straight into a discussion with NGOs and thinktanks on ‘adaptive development’. Really interesting for several reasons: I realized there’s a bunch of civil society people (100 people at the seminar, plus 50 online) thinking along parallel lines to donors and academics in the Thinking and Working Politically and Doing Development Differently initiatives, but currently very little cross over. …

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Why is there no ‘Fundraisers Without Borders’? Big missing piece in development.

Duncan Green - July 22, 2015

There are an extraordinary number of ‘without borders’ organizations (see here, or an even longer list here) – every possible activity is catered for, from chemists to clowns (and that’s just the c’s). But one seems to be missing, and it may well be the most useful – why is there no ‘fundraisers without borders’? Mike Edwards argues that ‘we should focus as much attention …

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What if the best way to be innovative is not to try?

Duncan Green - June 24, 2015

This guest post comes from Oxfam’s James Whitehead ‘Is it innovative?’ ‘How can we be more innovative?’ When asked, my problem, which is slightly awkward as Oxfam’s Global Innovation Advisor, is that I’m not sure how useful the word ‘innovation’ really is. I’ve just written a research paper on the factors that enable or block innovation in Oxfam and one of the things that comes out …

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What makes it possible to do joined-up programmes and advocacy? And what prevents it?

Duncan Green - May 1, 2015

Here’s a second instalment on ‘influencing’, following yesterday’s piece from Erinch Sahan   There’s a lot of talk in the aid biz about ‘getting out of our siloes’ – the traditional division of labour between ‘long term development’, ‘humanitarian’ and ‘advocacy’. I’ve seen this most starkly in some classic campaigns like Make Poverty History or Make Trade Fair, which seemed to have very little connection to …

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Civil Society and the dangers of Monoculture: smart new primer from Mike Edwards

Duncan Green - January 15, 2015

Mike Edwards has just written a 3rd edition of his book ‘Civil Society’. It’s a 130 page primer, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy reading. I found some of the conceptual stuff on different understandings of civil society pretty hard going, but was repaid with some really interesting and innovative systems thinking, leading to what I think are some novel suggestions for how NGOs and …

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How to write about development without being simplistic, patronising, obscure or stereotyping

Duncan Green - September 10, 2014

It’s all very well writing for wonks, but what about the poor comms people who have to make all those clever ideas about nuance, context, complexity etc etc accessible to people who don’t spend all day thinking about this stuff? Oxfam America’s Jennifer Lentfer has a good piece on this on her ‘How Matters’ blog, discussing her work with a class of international development communications …

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China’s meteoric rise: urban boom; NGOs in from the cold; overtaking the US on pollution and tourism

Duncan Green - April 25, 2014

A while ago, the Economist stepped up its China coverage and opened a separate section, putting placing the country on an editorial par with the USA. It’s taken a while to get going, but recent editions have been excellent. Last week saw a great piece on the rise of China’s NGOs (see chart). This week brings a 14 page special report on the extraordinary speed …

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How can you tell whether a Multi-Stakeholder Initiative is a total waste of time?

Duncan Green - March 10, 2014

Exfamer turned research consultant May Miller-Dawkins (@maykmd) tries to sort out diamonds from dross among the ever-proliferating ‘multi-stakeholder initiatives’. Have you ever had to decide whether or not to join a multi-stakeholder initiative? When I was at Oxfam there was a disagreement about whether or not to join a fledgling MSI. Some staff believed that the industry was going to use the process as greenwash while others …

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How to Write a really good Executive Summary? Here are some thoughts, but I need your comments.

Duncan Green - February 10, 2014

Inspired by your great crowdsourcing on where to do a part time Masters (can someone collect the comments into a single document please?), does anyone fancy helping me draft a short guideline on how to write decent executive summaries? Here’s the draft – over to you for improvements, suggestions for good/bad examples of the art etc. This is to add to Martin Walsh‘s burgeoning series of …

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Is the British development bubble a good thing? Reflections after another session at DFID.

Duncan Green - January 24, 2014

To be an aid  and development wonk based in London is to inhabit a very unrepresentative bubble. Beyond these shores, Australia has followed Canada in downgrading aid by absorbing it back into the foreign ministry, and subordinating aid policy more explicitly to national self interest. In Europe, most governments are cutting their aid budgets as part of their austerity packages. Wherever I go, people ask …

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