Over the last two weeks, the almighty William Easterly and the omnipresent Laura Freschi released Aid Watch's Best and Worst in Aid winners (kind of like the Oscars, but much more entertaining.) The Worst in Aid prize went to the US's 3D approach to foreign aid: Defense, Diplomacy and Development, which Freschi and Easterly say distort aid priorities. But the winner of the Grand Prize in the Best in Aid went to....
The Smart Giving movement!
Besides combining two of my three interests* and setting me up with some nice blog content, this announcement underscores the real importance of a push for accountability and efficiency in the non-profit sector. For casual social investors, it might seem a little redundant or annoying at times to keep hearing, "Think about your donations, push for transparency, don't accept a non-profit's promotional materials as truth," especially if you are donating $25 here and $50 there. But this "award" shows how those small and sometimes-annoying questions can make a large impact.
When it comes to international relief efforts, there is nothing more important than efficiency and effectiveness. Disasters like the Haitian earthquake show what's really at stake when we give indiscriminately, rather than think about our investments. Instead of contributing to boatloads of unnecessary shoes clogging up ports, we can focus on cash donations going to on-the-ground organizations, which can be the difference between good development and good intentions. Applying this line of thinking to all of foreign aid, like Easterly and Freschi did with their award, aid workers can create systems of accountability to truly benefit the global poor.
And its people like you that help solidify this distinction, not only for non-profit organizations, but for aid officials, government organizations and all helping professionals. So congratulations! Thank yourself for being a part of something growing and powerful. The actions to take may be complicated or small, but the more we push, the more people will start paying attention.
*Smart giving and international development. The third is stand-up comedy. Profs. Easterly and Freschi, please work on combining all three.