Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

Ah, scale. Foundations, nonprofits, anti-poverty programs all pursue scale. Advice on how to scale abounds, in reports and articles like Getting to Scale, Strategies to Scale Up Social Programs and Three Things Every Growing Nonprofit Needs to Scale. But scale is not impact. Indeed, there’s often tension between the two. “If you have $1 million to spend, …

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Five years ago, a young foreign service officer named Daniel Handel arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, to begin a new assignment with USAID. Listening to NPR online, Handel heard a Planet Money story about the nonprofit GiveDirectly, called “The Charity That Just Gives People Money.” In the story, Paul Niehaus, a founder of GiveDirectly, which delivers …

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Helping the world’s poorest people escape poverty is, in principle, a simple matter: Give them cash! The trouble is, there are too many of them: About 700 million people — more than twice as many people as live in the US — are thought to live on less than $1.90 a day, according to best estimates …

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True to its name, Unorthodox Philanthropy got started with an out-of-the-ordinary proposition. In 2010, on a crowdsourcing website called Innocentive, the funder announced that it was seeking “novel, unorthodox opportunities for philanthropic investment with the potential to generate extraordinary returns to society.” It promised a prize of at least $10,000 to the best idea. Nearly …

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This is likely a product of confirmation bias, but I’m often reminded of how little we know about stuff that matters.  Friends with health issues visit doctors who don’t know what to do. (Maybe they should do nothing. As Atul Gawande, wrote in The New Yorker in 2015: “An avalanche of unnecessary medical care is …

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Pessimism is fashionable. It’s also wrong. People are safer, better-educated, better-fed, and wealthier than they used to be. Democracy and human rights are spreading. Perhaps most important, people, and in particular the world’s poorest people, are healthier. As Bill Gates writes in the forward to Millions Saved: New Cases of Proven Success in Global Health, …

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How much good does a charity do? And at what cost? These are questions that many–perhaps most–nonprofits simply can’t answer. Trickle Up, a small New York-based NGO that helps some of the world’s poorest people lift themselves out of poverty, has answers. In FY2014, Trickle Up delivered a high quality program, known as the “graduation” …

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