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Effective Altruism and Its Lessons for NGOs

by Jonathan Leighton

Achieving concrete impact is an essential aspect of ethics and the goal of any organization aiming to help others. And it makes intuitive and rational sense that, for any given amount of time, money and effort available, we should try to have as much impact as possible. Although our specific goals might differ, what we ultimately care about is improving wellbeing and, more fundamentally, reducing suffering.

The Development Industry Needs an Overhaul of Strategy, Not a Change of Language

by Dr. Jason Hickel
Anthropologist, Lecturer, LSE & Adviser, The Rules

This crisis of confidence has become so acute that the development community is scrambling to respond. The Gates Foundation recently spearheaded a process called the Narrative Project with some of the world’s biggest NGOs – Oxfam, Save the Children, One, etc. – in a last-ditch attempt to turn the tide of defection. They commissioned research to figure out what people thought about development, and their findings revealed a sea change in public attitudes. People are no longer moved by depictions of the poor as pitiable, voiceless “others” who need to be rescued by heroic white people – a racist narrative that has lost all its former currency; rather, they have come to see poverty as a matter of injustice.

More Than A Mirror World?

by Jean-Christophe Nothias

It was a flash of audacity the non-profit world somehow came to accept. Four years ago, I set out to rank NGOs. The idea came up in conversation with friends in New York. We were comparing people who have a hand in transforming the world, and when discussion led to big money-movers like Gates, I asked about CEOs and top executives of major NGOs. The question drew a blank. As a journalist, I felt like the sector deserved celebrities; non-profits foster tremendous changes in society, but the scant publicity around their work leaves most of us in the dark.

Typhoon Haiyan – One year after the destruction

by Michel Rooijackers

I have worked as a humanitarian in some of the world’s biggest disasters for the past ten years, across Africa and Asia. I am used to seeing human suffering. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in October 2013.

After Snowden, what future for American journalism (and Democracy)?

by Lili Ninova

In June 2013, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden disclosed numerous top-secret documents about the massive collection of online data, initiating an international debate about this violation of human rights of millions of citizens, and not just American ones. Mass surveillance is disturbing in terms of freedom, rights and democracy, but online monitoring represents a particular danger to an independent press. After this scandal, many people now wonder about the future of journalism in the US.

The garden company helps to tackle the sanitation crisis

by Michael Chandler

Over 2.5 billion people – roughly 36 per cent of the world’s population – still lack what many of us take for granted: access to adequate sanitation. These people are often deprived of their dignity and privacy whilst being left vulnerable to the spread of disease and contaminated water.

15 years of action to assist victims of anti-personnel mines

by Petra Schroeter
Executive Director, Handicap International Switzerland

15 years ago, on 1 March 1999, the Ottawa Treaty banning the production, use, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines entered into force. At the heart of the civil society stakeholders’ concerns who drove its creation: victims and their protection. Fifteen years later, 163 States have signed the Treaty and committed to respect its principles. However, the battle is far from over.

How to do good (better): The future of Philanthropy

by Martina Castro

It used to be easier. You would come home, open the mailbox and find an anonymous looking envelope. Inside, you would find a card with despondent children, or cute tiger cubs, and a prefilled check. Alternatively, you could always count on your sister’s crochet friend to ask you for money for the local group distributing meals to the homeless. And finally, you would leave a bequest in your will to a couple of charities, usually an animal shelter or some organization you had heard about throughout your life but had never had the chance to really investigate. For many, philanthropy would be just that. Although it would be wrong to suggest this sort of giving is pointless, it does end up being relatively ineffective in achieving transformative impact.

July 24, 2014 review

A long and turbulent history

by Thomas Davies

Like economic globalization, transnational civil society is often seen as a recent phenomenon.
From the worldwide protests of the Occupy Movement, to environmental advocacy
campaigns ahead of RIO+20, and multi-faceted development programs implemented on a
global scale, it is tempting to assume we live in an entirely new era of NGO activity. Yet in
contrast to this conventional wisdom, international NGOs have a long and turbulent history,
which has often placed these actors at the center of key transformations shaping
international society over the last two centuries.

July 24, 2014 report

How the world came to save Haiti and left a disaster

by Jonathan M Katz

On 12 January 2010, the deadliest earthquake in the history of the Western Hemisphere struck Haiti. In a country already struggling with huge developmental challenges, the disaster killed more than 300,000 people and left over one million homeless. Yet, despite an unprecedented outpouring of global generosity, the relief – and later reconstruction – effort has foundered. In this ‘Republic of NGOs,’ good intentions have often gone wrong, and those driven by a humanitarian impulse have inadvertently contributed to an international response that will be remembered most for promises unfulfilled.

July 24, 2014 report