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295 posts categorized "International Affairs/Development"

Financing Sustainable Development Around the World

April 11, 2014

(Tensie Whelan is president of the Rainforest Alliance, which works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior.)

Headshot_tensie_whelanMore than two billion people around the world are dependent for their livelihoods on five hundred million smallholder farms. Yet these smallholder farmers, who typically have less than five acres under cultivation, operate far below their potential because they lack access to the technical assistance and credit they need to implement better farm management practices.

Global smallholder demand for credit is estimated at nearly $500 billion. While "social finance lenders" typically lend to smallholders who don't qualify for traditional or commercial loans, they currently meet only a tiny fraction of that demand — roughly $350 million. That leaves millions of smallholders unable to make needed investments in raising their workers' pay and improving worker safety, building waste management systems, and installing new water-conserving technology — all of which contribute to increases in yields and income.

Traditional aid programs aren't likely to alleviate the problem anytime soon, but urging lenders to change their practices could help. A 2013 study conducted by the Rainforest Alliance in conjunction with the Citi Foundation suggests that better data can dramatically improve smallholders’ access to credit. The study, which compared a hundred and ten Rainforest Alliance Certified™ coffee and cocoa farmers in Colombia and Peru with a non-certified control group, found that 90 percent of the certified producers in the survey tracked both revenue and expense metrics for their farms, while only about 30 percent of the non-certified producers did so. The study also found that the average dollar value of loans to certified producers was $5,562, while it was only $3,311 for non-certified producers — a finding which suggests that many smallholders rarely keep the kind of records, including production cost, income, and delivery history, that would enable potential lenders to assess their creditworthiness.

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[Report] 'Charity and Philanthropy in Russia, China, India, and Brazil'

March 27, 2014

BRIC reportOne of the most significant international developments since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 has been the growing economic power of the so-called BRICs — Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Dismissed in the 1970s by many as economic basket cases, the four countries, which account for over a quarter of the globe's land mass and more than 40 percent of its population, have, in the quarter-century since that momentous event, opened their economies to the world and emerged as dominant global suppliers of manufactured goods and services (China and India), and raw materials (Brazil and Russia).

The startling surge of economic activity in each of the four countries over the last twenty years has been accompanied by an explosion of wealth, which in turn has led to the emergence, in all four countries, of organized philanthropic activity and what those of us who cover philanthropy would call an infrastructure to support it.

Indeed, that activity is the subject of a new report just released by the Foundation Center, in collaboration with WINGS (Worldwide Initiative for Grantmaker Support), a global network of grantmaker associations and philanthropic support organizations. Authored by Joan E. Spero, a senior research scholar at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (and the first president of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation), the report, Charity and Philanthropy in Russia, China, India, and Brazil identifies some of the cultural, economic, social, and political forces that are shaping giving in the BRICs and examines the growth and nature of foundations and the philanthropic sector in each of the four countries.

Because the charitable sector in each of the four countries is new and not well organized, the data on charitable activity in each country is limited and difficult to compare. Nevertheless, there are common characteristics and issues that emerge from a comparison of giving in these countries. For example, the report looks at the traditional cultural and religious origins of charity/philanthropy in the four countries, including the Jewish concept of "tzedakah" (or righteousness), which has influenced a small but important part of contemporary Russian philanthropy; the concept of "zakat," one of the five pillars of Islam, which has shaped giving in the Arab countries and on the Indian subcontinent; and the concept of "dana," which is embraced by Hindus and Buddhists and has also influenced the small but important Parsi or Zoroastrian community of India.

The report also examines the process of economic liberalization in the four countries (a process, as Spero writes, that "has been accompanied by the growth of the middle class and the accumulation of vast fortunes by a new, wealthy business class, often linked to the global economy"); considers the increasingly worrisome issue of inequality, which has increased in China, India, and Russia over the last twenty years and remains very high in Brazil, where it has always been a feature of the economic landscape; and looks at external influences, including philanthropic support from foundations like Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, MacArthur, Mott, and Open Society in the U.S., the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Germany, and the British Charities Aid Foundation.

Here are a few takeways from the report:

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Weekend Link Roundup (March 22-23, 2014)

March 23, 2014

Spring_flowersOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy items from and about the nonprofit sector....

Advocacy

"[A]ctivist and advocacy organizations have increasingly come to look and act an awful lot like multinational corporations," and that's not a development we should applaud, write Genevieve LeBaron and Peter Dauvergne on openDemocracy's Transformation blog. It's not just the corporatization of NGOs and questions of money that make LeBaron and Dauvergne uneasy. "What’s more disturbing," they write,

is how corporatization is transforming what activists and NGOs now think is "realistic" and "possible" to change in the world.

Increasingly, NGOs are dividing advocacy into projects with concrete and easily-measurable outcomes in order to demonstrate "returns on donations." Needing to pay salaries, rent and electricity bills, NGOs have centralized their management structures and moved away from tactics that might threaten firms or governments or donors.

Advocacy for far-reaching change in world politics is increasingly off the table: radically-reorienting international organizations, redistributing global income, reining in multinational corporations beyond voluntary codes of conduct, reversing unfair terms-of-trade, protecting workers, and pushing for a different economic order that is based around sharing and an end to growth....

Data

On the Markets for Good blog, Greta Knutzen chats with Lee Sherman, co-founder and chief content officer at Visual.ly, about data vizualization and its value to the social sector.

International Affairs/Development

Humansophere blogger Tom Paulson has a nice Q&A with development economist Willam Easterly, whose newest book, The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, argues that "the 'technocratic' and apolitical approach favored by the aid and development community (including the World Bank) has served to keep the poor oppressed because it ignores one of the primary drivers of poverty – the poor's lack of individual rights, of economic and political freedoms."

Are unconditional cash transfers to poor people in developing countries as effective as some claim? The team at GiveDirectly, a site that is pioneering the concept, responds to the Mulago Foundation's Kevin Starr and Laura Hattendorf, who recently suggested in the Stanford Social Innovation Review that such transfers may turn out to be "more of a 1-year reprieve from deprivation than a cost-effective, lasting 'solution to poverty'."

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On World Water Day, Let's 'Toast to Water'

March 22, 2014

Today is World Water Day, the culmination of a week-long series of events coordinated by the United Nations and others to raise awareness of the global water crisis and, this year, the linkage between water and energy generation. Of course, the burden of the crisis is most keenly keenly felt by the estimated 960 million people around the globe – many of them in Africa – who live on less than $2 a day.

To appreciate the full weight of that burden, consider the following statistical portrait, which was put together by the folks at the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN), a six-year, $30 million initiative of the Coca-Cola Company that aims to improve access to clean water for 2 million people in Africa by 2015:

Water is a common thread between many of the most pressing challenges facing the world today, undermining development around the world.

Global water and sanitation burden

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene and Health

The water crisis is an everyday reality for millions of Africans.

Women and girls are disproportionately affected by the water crisis, yet they are the cornerstones of their communities.

Although the water crisis presents many challenges to global development now and in the future, water presents opportunities for global economic growth in the face of an emerging global middle class.

Leading companies are taking action in the water crisis.

Want to learn more? Join the Global Water Challenge, RAIN, the World Wildlife Fund, the McCann World Group, and others in a Toast to Water. And be sure to download this helpful list of water-saving tips.

Weekend Link Roundup (March 15-16, 2014)

March 16, 2014

Gopher_I_LiedOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector. Enjoy....

Communications/Marketing

Guest blogging on Nancy Schwartz' Getting Attention blog, Julie Brown, program director at the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation in Ohio, shares the steps she and a colleague have taken over the last year to achieve "storytelling success" and boost donor engagement at the foundation.

Community Improvement/Development

On the Huffington Post's Black Voices blog, Ashley Wood, Detroit editor for the HuffPo, takes a closer look at the hipsters-are-taking-over-Detroit narrative and uncovers a fascinating (and more nuanced) conversation. As Meagan Elliott, an urban planner and Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Michigan, says at the end of the piece: "I think everyone is open to change. That's what makes the conversation interesting. Everyone recognizes that things need to change here."

Corporate Philanthropy

In Fast Company, Stephanie Vozza explains why every company should pay its employees to volunteer.

Data

Writing on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Foundation Center president Brad Smith looks at the three types of data (transactional, contextual, impact) foundations need and suggests that "for strategic philanthropy to realize its true potential, foundations need to learn how to manage information (data) to produce and share knowledge. Doing so," adds Smith, "will depend on changing internal incentive systems, in which foundations employ static data primarily as means for approving strategies and monitoring grants."

Giving

Nice infographic on the npEngage site illustrating highlights of Blackbaud's 2013 Charitable Giving Report. Click here to download (registration required) a copy of the report, which includes overall giving data from 4,129 nonprofit organizations representing more than $12.5 billion in total fundraising and online giving data from 3,359 nonprofits representing $1.7 billion in online fundraising.

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The Smartest Investment We Could Make: The Future of Girls

March 13, 2014

(Dr. Anand K. Parekh is an adjunct assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and deputy assistant secretary for health in the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. His family manages the Parekh-Vora Charitable Foundation.)

Girls_in_classroomAs the father of two young girls, there is no greater joy for me than to see them smile and thrive. This is why I often remember former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan’s words: "There is no policy for progress more effective than the empowerment of women and girls. A nation that neglects its children, especially girls, is a nation that neglects its future and development." Given this truth, the Parekh-Vora Charitable Foundation has initiated a focus on two areas particularly important to girls: water and sanitation, and primary school education.

We could have chosen many areas of need to focus on, so why girls, why water and sanitation, and why education?

To begin with, we were struck by the numbers: globally, 2.5 billion people live without basic sanitation, while 768 million people lack access to safe water. Every day, 2,000 children die from water-related diseases. And each year, 60 million children are born into homes without access to safe water and sanitation. It's estimated that improvements in these areas alone could vastly improve health outcomes, increase productivity, and reduce healthcare costs – while increasing a country's gross domestic product (GDP) by anywhere from 2 percent to 7 percent. Girls are disproportionately affected by the water and sanitation crisis, given that they frequently miss school or drop out altogether because of a lack of a private toilet in school. Tens of thousands of other girls and women spend hours at a time walking for miles while carrying water on their heads that can weigh up to forty pounds. Simply put, access to water, sanitation, and hygiene enables women and girls to take control of their lives.

The numbers around education are equally alarming: 793 million people worldwide are illiterate. Once again, girls and women are disproportionately affected and account for two-thirds of all illiterate persons. In the developing world, an estimated 42 percent of girls are not enrolled in school, while more than 60 million primary school-aged children of both genders do not have access to education and likely will never learn to read or write. The numbers are confounding, not least because we know that even a few years of basic education empowers women and girls to take control of their lives. Educated women are healthier (an extra year of  education for girls can reduce infant mortality by 5 percent to 10 percent) and earn more (an extra year of education boosts future wages by 20 percent). If every child were to receive an education, an estimated  171 million individuals would be lifted out of poverty.

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Weeeknd Link Roundup (March 8-9, 2014)

March 09, 2014

We forgot to set our clocks forward, but we didn't forget our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector. Enjoy....

Daylight_savings_timeCommunications/Marketing

On her Nonprofit Communications blog, Kivi Leroux Miller shares the checklist she uses when evaluating clients' email newsletters.

Data

In a post on the Markets for Good blog, Beth Kanter shares three of her favorite DIY data vizualization tools. (Hint: You probably have two of them on your computer.)

Education Reform

In his Straight Up blog on the Education Week site, Rick Hess, an Education "policy maven" at the American Enterprise Institute, shares some suggestions for the Measures of Effective Teaching team at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation from blogger and award-winning teacher John Thompson.

Impact/Effectiveness

On Friday, New York State governor Andrew Cuomo announced the names of four finalists for the next round of the state's "Pay for Success" program, which aims to connect private and philanthropic investors with nonprofit organizations that provide direct services for vulnerable New Yorkers in the child welfare and early childhood, healthcare, and public safety sectors. For more information on the program and the finalists, click here.

As impact investment continues to gain traction — and favorable press coverage — an important piece of the story is being neglected: the role of government, Indeed, write Ben Thornley, Cathy Clark and Jed Emerson on the Huffington Post's Impact blog, "impact investing would barely exist — certainly not at its modest, current scale — but for the support and partnership of government."

If foundation leaders really want to "make a difference" — for their missions, their grantees, and the individuals and communities they serve — they would be wise, writes Tim Delaney, president an CEO of the National Council of Nonprofits, in the Nonprofit Quarterly, to focus their efforts at the state level. With so little being accomplished at the federal level these days, "the arc of history is being written in the states....[And unless] more attention is devoted to the state policy level, the stealth shift of burdens onto nonprofits and foundations will reach a disastrous tipping point."

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[Data Viz] How Does Foreign Aid Work?

March 08, 2014

Today's infographic isn't one, per se; it's a Web-based "visual explainer" created by Newsbound, a San Francisco-based design and software company, for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that "debunks several prominent myths about foreign aid, including the argument that it is a waste of taxpayer dollars." Part photo essay, part data vizualization, the "stack" (which was included in the foundation's 2014 annual letter) comprises twenty slides easily navigated with a mouse or the arrow keys on your keyboard.

(Click here to view)

Foreignaid_explainer

What do you think? Is the less than 1 percent of the federal budget spent on foreign aid a waste of taxpayer dollars? Does foreign aid work? Or, as some argue, does it do more harm than good? And on a scale of one to ten, how would you rate the Newsbound approach to a complex issue like foreign aid? Share your thoughts in the comments section below...

Venture Philanthropy and Development

March 06, 2014

(Heather Grady most recently was vice president for foundation initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation and currently is serving as an advisor to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. As a member of the Rockefeller Foundation executive team, she provided vision, leadership, and direction to help the foundation achieve its goals of building resilience and promoting equitable growth and also managed a diverse group of professionals in the U.S., Asia, and Africa working in a a range of areas, from climate change, agriculture, and health to transportation, impact investing, and employment. This is her first post for PhilanTopic.)

Heather_grady1Venture Philanthropy in Development (90 pages, PDF), a new report from the OECD's NetFWD, charts the directions that many foundations and individual philanthropists are taking to tackle today's social, environmental, and economic challenges. While the term venture philanthropy has been around for almost half a century (credited in the report to John D. Rockefeller III, who said it was "the imaginative pursuit of less conventional charitable purposes"), it is seen as an emergent field, and there is little enough agreement on the term itself that the originators of the report gave scant attention to precisely defining it.

At a panel I moderated on the occasion of the report's launch, common dimensions of venture philanthropy were easily identified: high engagement with the grantees supported within any particular portfolio; provision of non-financial as well as financial support with a targeted group of grantees (e.g., convenings); an entrepreneurial start-up approach; a blending or even blurring of the lines between grant contributions and investments for financial return; working at a systems level to influence a combination of practice, policy, markets and even public opinion; and focusing on a positive enabling environment to achieve success.

The report is based on research from which the authors conclude that those sharing in depth their venture philanthropy experiences (the Rockefeller, Lundin, Shell, and Emirates foundations) were on a transformational journey, one that was not a "from-to" path but a much more inclusive and – as I read it – meandering one. As an integrative approach, it provides new opportunities for foundations to work with their grantees differently, and also for coalitions of foundations, civil society organizations, governments, and businesses to enter differently into shared ventures, not unlike the collective impact approach.

I learned a new term when one of the main researchers, Alexandra Stubbings, told us that the approach may force foundations to do a "drain-up" review. While that sounds fairly unpleasant, philanthropic institutions do need a good shaking out now and again.

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‘Fatal Assistance’: The Promise and Failure of Humanitarian Aid in Haiti

February 20, 2014

(Kathryn Pyle is a documentary filmmaker and a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. In her previous post, she wrote about the documentary Shored Up, winner of the 2014 Hilton Worldwide LightStay Sustainability Fund & Award.)

Fatal_assistance_posterThe magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, killed more than 200,000 Haitians, injured over 300,000 people, and left some 1.5 million Haitians homeless. It also devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince, destroying buildings and wiping out large swaths of the city's infrastructure. As in most natural disasters, it was the poor, living in the most vulnerable areas, who were most affected – and Haiti was already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

The international response was immediate and unprecedented: ultimately, $14 billion was pledged for relief and recovery efforts by donor countries, bilateral and multilateral agencies, individuals, and foundations and corporations. The total amount actually disbursed was considerably less but still significant for a country with a population of only ten million.

Four years later, the clamor that arose almost immediately over how the aid was being disbursed, continues. In an editorial last month marking the fourth anniversary of the earthquake, the New York Times declared that despite the outpouring of support (and notwithstanding certain achievements), "Haiti is a fragile, largely forgotten country" where more than 170,000 people still live in temporary shelters.

A major criticism of the response has been the lack of direct support for, and meaningful consultation with, Haitians. According to the Guardian, of the $9 billion spent in Haiti by January 2013, 94 percent was funneled through donors' own entities, the United Nations, international NGOs, and private contractors. Reports since then confirm that only 5 percent of the money pledged for relief and recovery efforts in the country reached Haitian organizations.

Fatal Assistance, a new documentary by Haitian-born filmmaker Raoul Peck, provides a personal account of what happened in the weeks and months after the quake struck and, at the same time, is a plea for a more effective approach to humanitarian assistance in developing countries. Completed in 2013, the film premiered last year at Berlinale, the Berlin international film festival, and has been shown as part of the 2014 Human Rights Film Festival screening in cities across the U.S.

When the earthquake struck, Peck, like many other Haitians living abroad, returned home to help. "Those first weeks were a time of solidarity and connection," he told me. "Everybody slept outside. The Haitians were organizing everything."

That changed when the international relief groups arrived.

"Suddenly all our organization was erased. We weren't wanted and we were overwhelmed by the megaproject that took over. The locals were swallowed by the aid machine. We were of no use. So I decided to do what I do best: make a film. Without having any specific idea in my head, I decided to observe the whole process for a full two years, filming what was going on, interviewing people, penetrating the power structures where decisions were being taken, tracking the progress of the humanitarian efforts."

Peck's despair and anger with the reconstruction process is evident throughout the film, as the initial outpouring of money and promises of help were overwhelmed by agency competition, duplication of effort, and corruption.

Peck was in Philadelphia recently to screen Fatal Assistance and a previous feature film he had made, Moloch Tropical (2009), a satirical look at the final days of an unpopular Aristede-like politician. Organized by the Scribe Video Center in collaboration with International House Philadelphia, the program included a conversation with Peck about the creative process that was moderated by Louis Massiah, director of the Scribe Center.

In the post-screening discussion, Peck elaborated on a theme that was woven through Fatal Assistance: that the interests of humanitarian agencies working in Haiti seemed connected more to profit than to the needs of the Haitian people.

Even though many had never been to Haiti before, "the foreign workers didn't consult or involve the Haitians. They were the experts," Peck told those in attendance. "So much money was spent, but almost all of it went to foreign NGOs that carried out the projects designed by those experts. That meant that the money went back to the donor countries, it didn't go to the Haitian people. It was a business, where, for instance, instead of bringing water from other parts of Haiti, donors bought bottled water from businesses in their own countries and distributed them in Haiti."

Similar criticisms of the humanitarian relief model have been heard before. In a recent Q&A with PND about humanitarian aid efforts in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, Jessica Alexander, author of Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid, made a plug for an alternative approach: humanitarian agencies should "recognize that the Philippines will always be vulnerable to natural disaster, and that the best thing they can do is to work with local communities to strengthen their capacity to prepare for and respond to the next disaster."

Oxfam International, a confederation of fourteen Oxfam organizations that was working in Haiti with about a dozen rural projects before the earthquake struck, is an example of this more sustainable model. The organization is highlighted in the film in an interview with one of its Haitian staffers.

"Many of those projects had roots in previous crises, so disaster risk prevention was part of our day-to-day program," says Michael Delaney, head of Oxfam America's humanitarian response efforts. "Our approach to disaster relief is closely linked to long-term development programs, focusing on the most vulnerable populations to create resilient communities.

"In this kind of situation, there's pressure on organizations to be seen doing something, such as housing construction," Delaney adds. "Consultation takes time, so it's often not included in a top-down relief program. It's easier to design the housing and get it done. But housing is the hardest piece of reconstruction: it's personal, it's cultural, there are related issues like getting land titles. You can't do that unilaterally. You get a lot of solutions that are rapid but not sustainable."

Oxfam America raised about $30 million from foundations and individuals for its relief and recovery efforts in Haiti. About $20 million has been spent on direct disaster relief such as emergency water, sanitation, and other public-health services that have reached more than a million Haitians. The organization also provided emergency shelter for more than 94,000 Haitians and food assistance to over 200,000 people. Other assistance included grants to small businesses and cash-for-work programs. The rest of the funds it raised will support ongoing programs to address local communities' economic and infrastructure needs – programs that are run by Oxfam America's Haitian staff working in collaboration with local Haitian partners.

Before the earthquake, Oxfam America had been building a "South-South" bridge between its partners in El Salvador and its local efforts in Haiti. The Oxfam America program in El Salvador helped create an effective emergency response and disaster risk prevention squad in that country, and it is now working to do the same in a number of Haitian communities. The focus is on preventing cholera and other sanitation-related diseases, building communication networks and infrastructure, and enhancing technical capacity within the local population. Local governments are also involved, preparing for the next disaster, including designing and coordinating the reconstruction projects they most need.

In the years since the earthquake, any number of reports have been highly critical of the way humanitarian assistance was delivered in Haiti. But critical analyses of the humanitarian aid model itself have been largely missing. Peck's powerful and very personal film provides such an analysis and argues for a different model, one that is inclusive, consultative, and, like Oxfam America's ongoing efforts in the country, guided by the goal of long-term sustainability.

Kathryn Smith Pyle

South Africa Sets Example for World but Still Has Work to Do

February 10, 2014

(Achmat Dangor is the Ford Foundation’s representative for Southern Africa in Johannesburg. Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation. This  op-ed originally appeared in Business Day, a national daily newspaper based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and is reprinted here with permission of the Ford Foundation. )

FordFdn_logoIn 2004, a decade into South Africa's extraordinary experiment with democratic government, Archbishop Desmond Tutu reminded us that we could "kiss reconciliation and forgiveness goodbye unless the gap between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-nots, is narrowed."

Today, ten years on, Tutu's words ring truer than ever.

For all of South Africa's astounding progress, inequality is still the single greatest impediment on the long walk to freedom — for inequality stands between the promise of democracy and the achievement of justice. That inequality is undemocratic is a basic truth that applies not just here, but in democratic nations around the world.

As supporters and champions of South Africa, we at the Ford Foundation have marvelled at its social and economic advances.

Since apartheid's abolition, the percentage of people living on less than $2 a day has been halved. Clean water and electricity, harbingers of economic development, are spreading. Illiteracy is on the decline.

And yet, while the lives of South Africa's poorest have improved a great deal, they haven't improved relative to the wealthiest.

The International Monetary Fund tells us that half of the country's total income goes to the top 10 percent of earners, while the bottom 20 percent of earners take in only 2.7 percent of national income.

Simply put, South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world — in spite of the fact that its constitution is the world's most democratic.

How do we address this paradox?

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Weekend Link Roundup (January 25-26, 2014)

January 26, 2014

Climate-strat-vortexOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Environment

Nature Conservancy president Mark Tercek and Brett Jenks, president and CEO of conservation organization Rare, explain in a post on the Huffington Post's Green blog why a planned merger of their respective organizations, announced to great fanfare in the fall, was scuttled.

Evaluation

On his Evaluation Reflections, Riffs & Rants blog, Tom Kelly, vice president of knowledge, evaluation and learning at the Hawaii Community Foundation, expresses a widely shared frustration "that most performance dashboards are not getting at the 'right' data" -- and what he and his colleagues hope to do about it in 2014.

Fundraising

On Network for Good's Non-Profit Marketing Blog, Caryn Stein, NFG's director of content strategy, shares six things that every nonprofit should focus on when seeking major gifts:

    1. Success starts at the top.
    2. The board must be all in.
    3. Results matter.
    4. Experience and infrastructure make a difference.
    5. Endowments count.
    6. Reputation and good publicity (for the organization and the donor) are critical.

International Development

In The Lancet, Angus Deaton, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, reviews Nina Munk's The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty, calling it "a deep and important book about foreign aid and development" that reads like "a fine novel [rather than] the usual tract in social science."

And in Foreign Policy, NYU economics professor and Sachs' antagonist William Easterly takes another shot at Sachs' "original vision for Big Aid," before declaring the "endless back-and-forth" between himself and Sachs over:

On one hand, Sachs has said that aid can end poverty, but in his FP piece he says that it isn't a driver of development. It sounds like Sachs and I both need to move on. For myself, I'd prefer participating in the bigger debates on development. Why does the development discussion show so much indifference to the most basic political and economic rights of the poor? Could the "benevolent dictators" such as the late Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia -- who Jeff Sachs often praises (he even thanked Meles in the acknowledgements to The End of Poverty) -- be the problem and not the solution? Don"t we see individual rights in our own societies as both desirable in themselves and how we escaped our own poverty? Why do we see things so differently for poor societies?

These questions are a lot more important than the now passé aid debate. I think I might even publish a whole book on them.

[Ed note: Easterly's new book, The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor, will be published in early March.]

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[Infographic] International Financial Inclusion Funding

January 11, 2014

Our first infographic of 2014 comes courtesy of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), which aims to create "a world in which everyone has access to the financial services they need to improve their lives."

Based on the most recent CGAP Funder Survey, the infographic shows that international funders committed at least $29 billion in 2012 to support financial inclusion -- an increase of 12 percent over 2011. CGAP attributes the healthy increase to an improved global economic environment and the willingness of donor governments, which represent more than 70 percent of the estimated total, to step up despite continued pressure on public resources.

Infographic_financial_inclusion


To explore the full data set generated by the survey, click here.

Have an infographic you'd like to share with PhilanTopic's readers? Use the comments section to shoot us a link.

[Review] 'The Business Solution to Poverty: Designing Products and Services for Three Billion New Customers'

January 04, 2014

The "three billion customers" in the subtitle of Paul Polak and Mal Warwick's new book is a reference to the 2.7 billion people worldwide who live on less than $2 a day — those at the "bottom of the pyramid" (BoP), to use the phrase coined by C.K. Prahalad in his 2006 book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid; Eradicating Poverty Through Profits. According to Polak and Warwick, however, only one of the case studies in Prahalad's book illustrates the successful execution of a business model based on serving BoP customers. Moreover, in the years since the publication of that groundbreaking book, many companies looking to do the same have failed, even as multilateral organizations, donor countries, foundations, and NGOs have spent tens of billions on development aid — with limited success.

Bookcover_biz_solution_povertyThe Business Solution to Poverty, Polak, a pioneer in market-based ventures designed to serve the poor and the author of Out of Poverty: What Works When Traditional Approaches Fail, and Warwick, former chairman of the Social Venture Network and a co-founder of Business for Social Responsibility, describe "a set of ideas that we believe — in fact, we know — can help end poverty for hundreds of millions of families around the world." It's a sort of mantra they repeat in the same declarative, confidently optimistic manner throughout the book: Only "big global businesses launched either by independent entrepreneurs or by existing multinational corporations" can sustainably serve the poor, because they are the only enterprises large enough to attract enough capital to serve the needs of those at the bottom of the pyramid. Accordingly, Polak and Warwick write, each of these enterprises must set "a ten-year goal of building a customer base of at least 100 million, achieve revenues of at least $10 billion or more per year, and realize sufficient profitability to attract both indigenous and international commercial investors while minimizing [their] environmental impact."

Ambitious? Yes, but then they're talking about nothing less than ending global poverty. So how do they propose to do it?

The key, according to Polak and Warwick, is an approach called "zero-based design," which, they note, begins from "a position of assumed ignorance": Instead of thinking of ways to adapt existing product design to local conditions, "you assume that nothing you have previously done will be suitable...and set out instead to determine what poor people themselves believe will best meet their needs." The application of zero-based design to a business that can market an essential product or service to people living on less than $2 a day, in turn, should be informed by eight principles: a thorough understanding of customers' needs and aspirations; transforming local economies by creating entirely new markets; designing for scale as a central focus of the enterprise; implementing "ruthless affordability" technologies and "supremely efficient" business processes; designing for a generous profit margin that energizes private capital and market forces; designing for radically decentralized last-mile distribution networks that employ local people; aspirational branding; and flexible innovation.

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Weekend Link Roundup (December 28-29, 2013)

December 29, 2013

New_year_2014_shutterstockOur final roundup for the year of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector. See you in 2014!

Giving

In a Q&A on the Harvard Business Review blog, Michael Norton, an associate professor at Harvard Business School and co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, suggests that the way corporations and individuals approach charitable giving is starting to change -- for better and worse.

Higher Education

On the Inside Higher Ed blog, Dan Greenstein, director of postsecondary success at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, argues that "higher education is at a tipping point, and that it will soon look nothing like it does today, except perhaps at a few ivy-covered, well-endowed institutions." Lots of pushback in the comments section.

Impact/Effectiveness

Tracy Palandjian, co-founder and CEO of Social Finance US, and Jane Hughes, director of Knowledge Management at the organization, have an excellent piece on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog that looks at three possible future scenarios for the social impact bond market. They are:

  1. Boom-Bubble-Bust
  2. SIBs Are the Wave of the Future — and They Always Will Be
  3. A Successful Market for Social Outcomes

Palandjian and Hughes then examine some of the factors that will determine which scenario plays out. If you're at all interested in the impact investing space, this is a must-read.

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