Thursday, September 21, 2006

Aid: Can it work? (NY Review of books)

How and whence you come to something makes a huge difference on how you look at things. My co-founder Dennis and I both came to GlobalGiving from the ur-international aid bureaucracy, the World Bank, and that has colored everything, from our perpectives on impact evaluation (can of worms), our networks (we know lots of economist/public policy specialists and people at other aid agencies), to the very reason why we thought GlobalGiving was important enough to create.

And in our GlobalGiving lives, international development obsessions matter maybe about 10% of the time. But when pressed to explain how we "fit" into the ecosystem, we'll talk about what's broken about aid and how we can be part of the solution. So it was with great pleasure that I read Nicholas Kristof's great review of some of the most important recent books about international development, because it does our work for us.

And occasionally, when the international development world collides with the social enterprise world (as it will this coming fall at the Net Impact conference) it sets us up for a dilemma, because how do the positions we have staked out in international development overlay (or not) with the fault lines in social enterprise, or bottom up philanthropy, or nonprofit regulation (btw, Lincoln Caplan points out that in some cases can "escape" nonprofit regulation). Fortunately I'm not the hook to talk at Net Impact--Dennis is--so I'll leave it to him to 'rastle with that one.

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