Nonprofit Chronicles

Journalism about nonprofit organizations and their impact

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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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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The global south is littered, literally, with the remains of failed international aid projects. So-called clean cookstoves had more appeal to western donors than to women in India, Africa or Latin America. Wells and taps that were intended to provide clean water have fallen into disrepair. One 2009 study estimated there are 50,000 broken rural water points …

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A saintly aura follows Jim Yong Kim as he glides from stage to stage, at the Skoll World Forum, the London School of Economics, the Global Philanthropy Forum and the spring meetings of the World Bank, over which he presides. The introductions are kind, the questions invariably gentle, the resume glittering: A physician and an …

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Nonprofits often talk about inequality. Rarely do they talk about inequality in the nonprofit sector. But it’s a problem. Scale begets scale in the nonprofit world. Big nonprofits, with their brand names and hefty marketing budgets, grow faster than small ones, even when the smaller ones are demonstrably more effective. The rich get richer; the rest …

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To avoid becoming depressed by the malevolence of the Trump administration, it helps to cultivate a long-term and global perspective. Last week’s Skoll World Forum offered both, and a bit of fun, too. Spend time at Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and you’re reminded that Britain has endured much worse that Trump. Listen to …

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