Lessons Learned

24 May

This post is no longer available on this blog.

This post is now part of J.’s book, Letters Left Unsent, available on Amazon.


5 Responses to “Lessons Learned”

  1. Carla 24 May, 2010 at 8:00 pm #


  2. FFTF 25 May, 2010 at 7:50 am #

    I’ve been in that particular “small, poor country where everything was written in Cyrillic”, and the need for self-esteem there is so strong that plumbers and other tradesmen come to your door dressed in suits, carrying their tools in briefcases, only changing into their work clothes once they’re inside and no one else can see. The dignity of the people we serve is sometimes paramount above nearly every other consideration.

  3. JP 25 May, 2010 at 4:39 pm #

    Hey, just a question. How easy is it to actually educate donors when what you’re doing would so obviously be against donor rules (re: self esteem tax)? I’ve not yet had to do donor site visits, but from what I hear they come in with very pompous top-down attitudes and, especially for small NGOs, crossing them in the name of good aid could be potentially devastating to the organisation… or am I stereotyping?

    • J. 27 May, 2010 at 8:27 am #

      It my experience, success in educating donors is highly variable. Some are very honest and reasonable, and as a result come around very quickly when confronted with actual facts and logic. In the very best cases, these people come around to being strong advocates for good aid and good development. Others are just the opposite – they are clearly uninterested in any reality or point of view that conflicts with their preconceptions.

      You’re correct: smaller organizations are more vulnerable to being donor-driven by the pompous, top-down donors who actively want to fund bad aid for whatever reason. When the cash that keeps one’s doors open is on the line, it is all but impossible to resist the temptation to “give a little” in order to “cultivate the donor”, or to look too hard (in my opinion) for the “win-win.”

      We have to invest time in educating donors, and also be willing to turn away funding for bad aid. Far more easily said than done…

  4. Sarah 26 May, 2010 at 4:46 am #

    I love this post… its too often about “our needs” to do good rather than what the people need. Humanitarian aid is particularly bad on this. How many times have I heard refugees and IDPS complaining about the food they have to eat? I would HATE eating foreign food that I couldn’t prepare the way I liked it for years and years. Something as simple as letting people purchase their clothing like adults is so important yet so overlooked.

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