Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about nonprofit organizations 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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Josh Ruxin had big plans when he moved to Rwanda in 2005. He was running an NGO that built and improved health clinics, and he launched a Millenium Village project, with support from Stephen Lewis, the Canadian politician and philanthropist. An Ivy-educated PhD, Ruxin had worked almost all his life in nonprofits and academia. Today, …

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Of the countless well-meaning efforts to help the world’s poor, only sixteen are currently endorsed by GiveWell, a meta-charity that rigorously investigates nonprofits. Three of those are run by a little-known nonprofit called Evidence Action. This is no accident. While GiveWell evaluates programs and Evidence Action operates them, their values are aligned: Both seek to …

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Two new books kept me busy last week: Clean Meat: How Growing Meat Without Animals Will Revolutionize Dinner and the World, by Paul Shapiro, and Clean Protein: The Revolution that will Reshape Your Body, Boost Your Energy–and Save Our Planet, by Kathy Freston and Bruce Friedrich. Is a revolution coming to dinner? Well, maybe. These …

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The onslaught began last week. “Mark your calendar for Giving Tuesday,” said the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “One week until #GivingTuesday,” said SHOFCO. Triple your gift! Double your impact! An estimated 35,000 nonprofits participate, according to New York’s 92nd St Y, which launched Giving Tuesday in 2012. Does #GivingTuesday do good? That’s …

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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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