"if you don't have a strategy, you're part of someone else's strategy."
– a. toffler
"What can we do today, so that tomorrow we can do what we are unable to do today?"
– Paulo Freire
been thinking recently about how NGOs often don’t work for radical change, even though they have many staff working for them that would agree with radical changes
I think a lot of it comes down to an over-reliance on “SMART goals” – only working towards things that tick the box of Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
bigger and more complex changes (e.g. increased support for worker self-organisation) are either unmeasurable or too expensive to measure. It means NGOs can win one-off battles, but often lack the strategy to win the war. I’ve seen people self-censor in meetings, pushing less “measurable” ideas aside
what can be done? I think it has to come back to grassroots movements. if you’re not reliant on specific achievements for funding, then you don’t need to restrict yourself only to measurable goals. you can frame the debate, and set the vision, by the goals you choose. sometimes it may be strategic to have a SMART goal, sometimes not! right-wing groups often use a mix of goals really well, but the eco-system on the left is a bit lacking I think
I realise this is a half-baked opinion in a place where other people have probably written tomes, but any other thoughts? charity folk/people that avoid charities especially?
Shit yeah. NGOs bleating about racism whilst having thoroughly racist outlooks is a ridiculous situation.
The quote is from the article African aid: no more ‘pity shit’ (why Western ‘caring’ for Africans is just as objectifying as old-fashioned racism) by Magatte Wade (born in Senegal, educated in France, and is now based in New York).
people in the Global South don’t need an “apolitical” (i.e. conservative in the true sense of maintaining the status quo) aid agenda. they need systemic change, and Andrew Mitchell’s never gave it to them. as this article points out, neither would a Labour government.
fuck them all!
John Hilary’s (from War on Want) take on NGO’s approaches to development, in Is the faultline among NGOs over the future of development deepening?
the article is about the debate generated from a recent paper summarising the academic literature on the role of NGOs in development and poverty reduction. has anyone read the paper, care to give any feedback?