Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about foundations, nonprofits and their impact

Village Enterprise is a small NGO. Its annual budget? About $3.5m. Number of employees? Fewer than 150, with all but seven based in East Africa. Yet Village Enterprise is about to test a big idea that has the potential to insure that money spent to fight global poverty has real impact. It’s known, inelegantly, as …

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Carbon offsets have delivered many millions of dollars to finance cookstoves, for better or worse–probably, alas, for worse. Since the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves was formed in 2010, so-called clean cookstoves distributed to poor people in the global south have been paid for, in part, with carbon offsets purchased by companies, western governments and …

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Thousands of words, including many on this blog,  have been written about the so-called clean cookstove sector. But the fundamental problem with cookstoves has been captured in a single sentence by Kevin Starr of the Mulago Foundation. “The cheap stoves aren’t good enough,” Starr says, “and the good stoves are way too expensive.” Yep. Cheap …

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Social entrepreneur Leila Janah is a regular on the do-good circuit: She’s been to the Clinton Global Initiative, the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Fortune Global Forum, SOCAP, BSR, SXSW and Tedx. She’s a media darling. She’s got a new book out. But what has she accomplished? Let’s have a look. There’s lots to admire about …

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Thousands of donors visited Charity Navigator in the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, looking for charities to support. They got some help, but not enough–the Harvey page of the Charity Navigator website lists about 50 organizations, the Irma page another 25 or so. They include the American Kidney Fund, to help dialysis patients in …

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The devastation in Houston was terribly sad. So, in its own way, was the philanthropic response, particularly from business. Big brands including Amazon, Apple, Google, Starbucks, Walmart and many more are making donations to the American Red Cross, and encouraging their customers to do the same. Former President Obama retweeted: Help those affected by #HurricaneHarvey. …

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Uganda has about 30 psychiatrists. New York City and its suburbs have about 41,000. So depression in Uganda can’t be treated the way it is in New York. Turns out, that may be a good thing. StrongMinds, a fledgling nonprofit founded in 2013, organizes self-help groups to treat depression among poor women in Uganda. Its …

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This is not the time to be holding onto money that will eventually go to charity. Needs are urgent: Globally, about one in 10 people remain extremely poor. In the US, the environment, immigrants, civil rights, reproductive freedoms and democracy itself face threats from the Trump administration. Meantime, it’s not hard to identify standout nonprofits. Yet …

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Chickens. Cows. Cookstoves. Toilets. Solar panels. Job training. Clean water. Western NGOs dole out lots of stuff to help poor people in the global south become less poor. Do such programs work? It’s hard to know, but when researchers for a series of World Bank studies called Moving Out of Poverty asked 3,991 households in …

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You could call Jonathan C. Lewis a late bloomer. Not until he retired from business in his mid-50s did he rediscover his 1960s activist soul and become a full-time “social entrepreneur.” Lewis founded a nonprofit impact investing firm now called MCE Social Capital that makes loans to poor people in the developing work. He created Opportunity Collaboration, …

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