Civic Engagement

Advancing Women and Girls in Liberia

March 2, 2010

“Women are part of the development agenda for the first time—and we are making use of our time. Traditional culture has made us reticent. But no more. Our eyes are now open and there is no way they will close again.” These are the words of Liberia’s Vabah Gayflor, Minister of Gender and Development. Soft-spoken and patient, when her moment comes to speak, her voice drops to a whisper that commands the attention of all in the room. The 19 philanthropists with whom I am traveling in Liberia are focused; we have met a truly powerful person.

From Service to Organizing: The Story of Sapientis

February 18, 2010

After graduating from the Kennedy School in 2001, Kristin Ehrgood moved to Puerto Rico with her (now) husband, Vadim Nikitine, with the ambition to set up a Teach for America–like program. She had spent 10 years with Teach for America before returning to graduate school. Her last job had been director of new site development, so she had seen the challenges of penetrating multiple school districts with this educational innovation firsthand. The educational system in Puerto Rico has as much

The Story of PROTECTA: Trying to Reconcile Organizing and Service Delivery

February 17, 2010

Two years ago, Mladen Jovanović, one of three founders of PROTECTA, a Serbian NGO, took my online executive program on strategic frameworks for NGO leaders. His analysis of the organization’s strategic challenges reflected the mission struggle many good organizations that start out focusing on advocacy have as they grow and gain donor support.

Perhaps Change Starts at Home: University Outreach Programs

February 16, 2010

Many university community involvement programs and outreach programs represent the problem I suggested in my first installment, in that they represent much more supply push than demand pull. The theme of this engagement has been at best, “We have a lot to offer the community, so we will invite ourselves in. ” At worst (and my own university has been roundly accused of this), it is “Let’s figure out what we are going to do, then tell them.”

Striking a Balance Between Supply and Demand

February 15, 2010

In this series of blogs, I’m going to discuss the problem of the lack of balance in funding service-providing nonprofits and funding those that engage not only in some sort of advocacy, but actively organize constituencies to advocate and provide for themselves. We’ve a long history of mainstream philanthropy eschewing advocacy organizations (at least on the left—the right doesn’t seem to have a problem with this). Perhaps it is time to rethink this lopsided funding if we really want to change conditions in our communities worldwide. This may be more imperative with the recent Supreme Court

Katrina @ 5

February 2, 2010

The five-year anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita are coming up this fall, and to mark the occasion more than 30 organization are gathering in New Orleans next month at a conference called Katrina @ 5: Partners in Philanthropy.
The purpose of the gathering is to explore philanthropy's role as a partner in disaster response, rebuilding, and transformation, and to examine what's worked, what hasn't, and what is yet to be done.

Good-bye Philanthrocapitalism, Hello Citizen Philanthropy?

January 29, 2010

Given the rise of neoliberalism over the last twenty years—the extension of the market into every sphere of life—it’s no surprise that civil society has begun to receive the same attention. Large parts of politics and government, health care and education, knowledge production and the media have already been overtaken, but civil society, one could argue, is a more important case because it’s the ground from which alternatives can grow.

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