A new kind of aid donor: Four things they do differently

We all know there are aid donors and international funding partners out there that want to change “business as usual” in development (or at least people inside those institutions that do). We also all know that for various reasons, they’re not moving quick enough for those working on the ground.

New donors could come in and fill the gaps. But more importantly, we need a new kind of donor, whether they are recent to the scene or not.

The organizations that I see doing the most important and exciting work out there these days most often do not fit into current donors’ way of doing business. Donors who rely on lengthy proposals, onerous reporting, and heavy-handed funding mechanisms frankly cannot offer useful capital to organizations that don’t fit the mold.

To change this, this new kind of donors will do four things better than donors still stuck in the old ways of moving money around:

1) They are patient. They invest not just today’s services or activities delivered, but allow for uncertainty and potentially lower short-term results in favor of long-term outcomes.

2) Their money follows ideas and people, rather than activities. Project may be the modus operandi, but they do not allow them define or confine relationships.

3) They demonstrate a tolerance for risk, rather than failure. They help keep a focus on results, yet offer flexibility and responsiveness to changing conditions.

4) They are able and willing to look within and examine how their own policies and practices exclude and/or inhibit some of the most innovative and effective organizations.

Aid financing can no longer be disconnected from people and place, flowing into a community based on a donor’s imperatives. A new kind of aid donor is courageous enough to put their partners’ needs first and is adaptive to arising needs, inherent complexities, and local realities.

A new kind of aid donor knows that serving their partners’ interests first is what will ultimately fulfill their own.

This post originally appeared at: http://www.how-matters.org/2012/06/17/a-new-kind-of-aid-donor/


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Comment by Jennifer Lentfer on June 19, 2012 at 12:09am

Hi Rituu! This post discusses some organizations that are making small, responsive grants internationally directly to local groups: http://www.how-matters.org/2011/01/13/small-grants-part-2/ Many of them fund "core operating costs" in addition to activities in order to make sure that the people that make up the organizations have what they need.

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on June 18, 2012 at 5:53pm

Thanks for your blog Jennifer! I liked the point 2 particularly. You have any experiences to share of such donor agencies?


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