Friday, November 5, 2010

Raising money by NGOs based on disaster news ... obscene!

Dear Colleagues

The business model of the modern NGO world is obscene ... not much better than the obscene business model of the financial sector that delivered a near catastrophic meltdown of the global economy.

When the earthquake struck in Haiti in January ... within 12 hours most of the big NGOs had deployed websites to solicit donations ... and within days many thousands of other organizations were soliciting donations from the public that really wanted to help.

I have been trying to get some accountability that is worth a damn ... but there is none. The last thing that anyone in the NGO community seems to want is some rigorous accountability, and it becomes very questionable whether these organizations deserve to be funded at all. They do everything to make donors "think" that they are making a big impact on critical humanitarian issues ... but verifiable information is almost totally missing.

I am prompted to write this note today because Haiti has moved back into the news ... first because of a cholera outbreak that has killed an estimated 400 people up to now and several thousand sick. And at this time a tropical storm is very near Haiti and the winds and rain are going to do damage. The email copied below is an example of an NGO using these events to build up its cash reserves.

As far as I am able to discern this NGO is no better than average ... a very low bar ... in its public information about accountability and its performance. Clearly the world has a huge amount of "failed" relief and development ... and interestingly nobody is responsible. Nobody ... or everybody ... nobody knows, and this seems to be the way the executives of these organizations want it to be.

A start on accountability is to know how well the organization is performing ... what impact the organization is having ... but it would appear that this information is almost totally missing. Increasingly, money is being spent on metrics, but from my perspective as a one time accountant/auditor ... and management information specialist ... the money is getting spent and better metrics that have any clarity remain missing.

The need for True Value Metrics (TVM) is obvious ... but having this turn into demand is unlikely. Accordingly, the deployment of TVM may well be done on top of an industry that would really prefer that TVM goes away!

Below is the email from ActionAid ... and please note, this NGO is one of the better ones! It does not name Tomas ... the tropical storm/hurricane approaching Haiti ... but it clearly is using the association! These fund raising people are expert!

Peter Burgess
Dear Peter,

Global climate change is endangering the world's poorest communities.

But now the Obama Administration has a chance to help.

Tell President Obama to take the steps necessary to help poor nations cope with climate change.

They're called extreme weather events – monsoons or heat waves that result from global climate change. And nowhere are their effects more horrifying than in the world's poorest nations.

But now you and I have a small window of opportunity in which to speak out for the millions impacted each year by these natural disasters.

The Obama administration will participate in a major conference on climate change this month where it will make decisions that will impact the next decade of climate policy. Before they get there, we must make our voices heard and demand the Administration announce how it plans to help the world's poor cope with the brutal impact of climate change and transition to clean energy economies.

Peter, we only have until the end of the month to deliver our call to action – and along with our coalition partners we've set an ambitious goal of 50,000 names in order to make the most effective case possible. Will you join our call and help us reach our goal?

Tell President Obama to take real action to help poor nations adapt to the impacts of climate change.

At the Copenhagen climate conference last year, the United States and other developed countries agreed to jointly mobilize $100 billion per year by 2020 to help developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, protect their forests, and promote clean energy.

The tools for raising this money are within reach right now. With enough public support from activists like you, we can convince President Obama to back initiatives that could have real, tangible impacts, such as:

Removing subsidies from the world's biggest commercial polluters to slow the pace of climate change;
Placing a tiny tax on the financial sector's biggest transactions to generate additional funding for life-saving climate adaptation programs; and
Taxing the shipping and aviation industries whose largely unchecked pollution contributes to global warming.
Sign the petition to President Obama now. Tell him to support funding proposals to meet the urgent needs of the world's poor in the face of climate change.

We'll deliver your petitions in person when we meet with key officials in the Administration at the climate conference in Cancun, Mexico in December – all in our concerted effort to get President Obama to act decisively and without delay.

As part of ActionAid's vocal online community, you can be a voice for the world's marginalized poor by helping us reach our coalition's 50,000 petition goal – and by showing President Obama how vital it is to act.

Lend them your voice. Be one of the 50,000 voices standing for the rights of poor people. Sign our petition and tell President Obama to act now.

Thank you for your support and for your continued belief that together – standing up for others – we can all make a difference.


Ilana Solomon
Policy Analyst
ActionAid USA

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