Topic: NGOs

Are Academics really that bad at achieving/measuring Impact? Summary of last week’s punch-up

Last week’s post about academics struggling to design their research for impact certainly got a reaction. Maybe not a twitter storm, but at least a bit of a squall. So it’s time to summarize the debate and reflect a bit. The post annoyed some people in the ‘research for impact’ community, because it was basically […]

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Two days with the Radiographers of Power

Spent another couple of days with the International Budget Partnership (IBP) last week. If budgets sound boring and bean-counter ish, consider this quote from Rudolf Goldscheid: “the budget is the skeleton of the state stripped of all misleading ideologies.” Follow the money, because the rest is spin. The IBP trains and supports civil society organizations […]

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If academics are serious about research impact, they need to learn from advocates

As someone who works for both Oxfam and the LSE, I often get roped in to discuss how research can have more impact on ‘practitioners’ and policy. This is a big deal in academia – the UK government runs a periodic ‘research excellence framework’ (REF) exercise, which allocates funds for university research on the basis […]

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Shouting or cooperating? What’s the best way to use indexes to get better local government?

Went to an enjoyable panel at ODI last week, with the wonderful subtitle ‘Shouting at the system won’t make it work!’. It presented new research on how to improve the accountability of local government in Tanzania. Here’s the paper presented by two of the authors, Anna Mdee and Patricia Tshomba, the first of a series. […]

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Digested read: 3 new papers on measuring women’s empowerment; gender and ISIS; women’s rights in the Middle East and North Africa

Just sampled a couple of hundred pages of Oxfam’s prodigious output on gender issues. 3 new papers, to be precise, all of them ground-breaking in different ways. A ‘How To’ Guide to Measuring Women’s Empowerment; a Gender and Conflict Analysis in ISIS-affected communities in Iraq, and Gender Justice, Conflict and Fragility in the Middle East […]

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What is really going on within ‘shrinking civil society space’ and how should international actors respond?

Good conversation (Chatham House Rule) last week on the global crackdown on civil society organizations (CSOs) and what to do about it. I was expecting a fairly standard ‘it’s all terrible; international NGOs must take action, speak truth to power etc’ discussion, but it was actually much more interesting and nuanced than that. While it […]

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Loneliness, Love, Anger and Activism

Spent a morning at the Ashridge Business School Masters in Sustainability and Responsibility last week. The School is extraordinary – a Hogwarts-esque stately home full of statues and vaulted ceilings, formerly Henry VIII’s crib, set in a country park dotted with croquet lawns and mighty oaks. The conversation was also pretty good – 15 Masters […]

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Can Oxfam do the Doughnut? A conversation with Kate Raworth

Kate Raworth came in last week to present her new book, Doughnut Economics (see my earlier review here or Simon Maxwell’s thoughtful summary/critique) and discuss its implications for Oxfam. After writing the initial DE paper while still at Oxfam back in 2012, Kate left to turn it into a book, so there was a definite air […]

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Sex, serendipity and surprises – launching the State of the World’s Fathers

It’s Father’s Day on Sunday, apparently (my kids ignore it completely), so here’s Oxfam’s gender guru, Nikki van der Gaag, reflecting on an impressive bit of advocacy Sharing the housework means better sex.  Now that I have your attention, let me explain. This was just one of the findings in the first ever State of […]

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What can Activists do in a Political Downturn?

The recent discussions with the International Budget Partnership also got me thinking about the options facing activists in political downturns. IBP sees these as potentially multiple: the crackdown on civil society in increasing numbers of countries is closing the space for budget activism, and there may also be a kind of ‘peak transparency’, where the […]

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Thinking and Working Politically: where have we got to?

Spent a day with the TWP crew recently. Chatham House Rules, so no names. Like its close relative and overlapping network, ‘Doing Development Differently’, TWP urges aid organizations to stop trying to impose rigid blueprint/’best practice’ approaches, paying far more attention to issues of power, politics and local context. The driving force has mainly been […]

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How will we know if the SDGs are having any impact?

As long time readers of the blog will know, I’ve been a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) sceptic since long before they were even agreed. However, I’ve been hearing a fair amount about them recently – people telling me that governments North and South, companies and city administrations are using them to frame public commitments and […]

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