Topic: NGOs

What might a 100% experimental Oxfam Country Programme look like?

Oxfam GB’s new boss, Danny Sriskandarajah, starts in the New Year, but is already talking to people inside and outside the organization about what a ‘Nextfam’ could look like. Here’s some thoughts from a chat with him and David Bonbright earlier this week. The problem: Experiments and innovation at the project level seldom spread beyond […]

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So what might ‘Beyond the Project’ Activities look like?

Some thoughts in response to yesterday’s challenge from Brady Mott. What might replace the project? On one level, it’s a self-defeating exercise – any alternative is likely to require spending money, staff etc and some kind of accountability. Boom – we’re back to projects! But some projects can loosen the kinds of constraints that Brady […]

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What’s the problem with Projects?

While doing some blogging workshops, I got talking to various people in the Netherlands recently about aid moving ‘Beyond the Project’. Today’s guest post by Brady Mott explains the problem with projects. Tomorrow I’ll explore some alternatives. The development sector has always engaged with the world through the vehicle of projects: logistically intricate arrangements linking […]

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What can we learn from campaigns run by the world’s children and young people?

Save the Children’s Patrick Watt reports back from some INGO soul searching on ‘Engaging a New Generation’ There’s nothing new about children and youth being involved in movements for change, from the anti-apartheid cause in South Africa, to the earlier and more hopeful chapters of the Arab Spring. But what feels different now is that […]

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What did I learn from Wednesday’s arguments over aid, academia and ‘the literature’?

As they say on twitter, Mind. Blown. Wednesday’s rant about way aid and academia generated a fantastic discussion. Including some great putdowns. My favourite, which made me laugh out loud, came from Ryan Briggs: ‘Just to be clear, you’re arguing that academics are insular and generalize too much from shoddy evidence, and the evidence for […]

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Using evidence to influence policy: Oxfam’s experience

Oxfam has got a new paper out on how it uses evidence to influence policy. My colleague Ruth Mayne led on it (along with other Oxfam colleagues, I chipped in a few ideas). The paper brought together lots of new (to me) examples to illustrate how Oxfam seeks influence through research, while Ruth and Paul […]

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What is civil society for? Reflection from one of Tanzania’s leading CSO thinkers

A recent civil society and government jamboree in Tanzania prompted some interesting reflections from Aidan Eyakuze, Executive Director of Twaweza. Who needs civil society organizations (CSOs)? If government does its job well, responding to citizens’ needs, delivering good quality services, safe communities and a booming economy, then what is the purpose of the diverse range of […]

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Who wants to be a Volunteer? Book Review

An estimated 10 million people will head from North to South this year as volunteers, seeking a mix of adventure, altruism and self improvement. Volunteering is big (a $2bn industry), but is it beautiful? Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad, a 350 page tome aimed at informing and guiding would-be volunteers, left me […]

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One of my favourite stories of change: how an indigenous group won the rights to 1m hectares of land – and a new interview with an NGO person who supported them at the time

If you repeat the same story often enough, at some point you start to wonder if you’ve really just made it up, or at least embellished it beyond recognition. One such story, which I often tell at the start of a How Change Happens presentation, is about the Chiquitano Indians of Bolivia and their successful […]

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11 Tips for Better Blogging

I’ve run several blogging workshops in recent weeks, with seasoned campaigners at Global Witness, Oxfam Novib’s youth wing, and academic bloggers at the Institute for Social Studies in The Hague. All three sessions followed a similar format, developed for a Unicef session I ran last year – a half hour intro from me, and then […]

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Is Something Good about to happen in Mexico?

First of two reflections on last week’s visit to Mexico. Omar Cabezas’ wonderful account of the Sandinista Revolution, Fire from the Mountain, ends with the victorious guerrillas arriving in Managua’s main square, where wild celebrations break out at the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. On the margins of the fiesta, a group of comandantes gather […]

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Is Flying the new Smoking? If so, should aid workers stop flying?

Guest post from Dorothea Hilhorst of the International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University. She suggested this just after I had got off a plane to Mexico, so I figured I had to publish it…. Update: this post has generated so much interest that we’ve put up an opinion poll here – please complete […]

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