Tag: NGOs

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

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’? […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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, […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

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

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. […]

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

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 […]

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Is ‘The Field’ an outdated and reactionary concept?

Advance warning – this blog is going dark for a couple of days to allow the cyberelves to give it a makeover. Back on Wednesday. Ex Tales from the Hood blogger ‘J’ has an enjoyable tirade on the Why Dev blog against the use of the phrase ‘The Field’ in aidland – (as in ‘I’m […]

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How can campaigners tap corporate largesse without undermining their credibility? Unlocking millions for advocacy

It’s great to be accidentally topical. In the week that Save the Children had to fend off allegations of letting corporate funding influence its campaigns, here’s Oxfam America’s Chris Jochnick (@cjochnick) suggesting a way to accept money (in this case from extractive industries) while staying demonstrably independent Oxfam was recently approached by a major mining […]

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If high staff turnover is unavoidable, how should we redesign aid work to cope?

One of the implicit assumptions that often underlies programme design is that the people who initially come up with an idea and turn it into a project or programme then stick around and implement it. The reality is often very different – high levels of staff turnover are almost universal in both NGOs and aid […]

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