Waylaid Dialectic

September 8, 2010

Meanwhile, in the realm of rather bad ideas…

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 12:50 pm
Tags: ,

From Simon Burall at OpenDemocracy:

The coalition government appears to be viscerally attracted to engaging the public in new ways. I’ve already written and commented about its three recent attempts to crowdsource public opinion. As these engagement exercises come to an end another is beginning to gather steam.

The head of steam is developing around the government’s proposals for MyAid in which it aims to engage the public in choosing development projects. If implemented the MyAid proposal will see citizens voting for aid projects in a competition for a pot of £40m. The project with the highest votes will receive the most money.

This is not a good idea. Remember, currently, if New Zealand is anything to go by, the most successful way to get people to donate money to development work is through child sponsorships – a delivery mechanism so inefficient that, as far as I’m aware, most NGOs that advertise child sponsorships don’t actually sponsor one particular child with the money, but rather invest it in community development in the child’s community.

It would be nice if we lived in a world where the voting public in developed countries was very well-informed about aid. But we don’t. And so this strikes me as an particularly wrong-headed way to give aid.

Not the least because you’re asking completely the wrong group of people for their preferences. If the UK government really wants to do crowd sourcing on aid at the very least they should their crowd from the appropriate place: aid recipient countries. After all, that’s where the lives are at stake.



  1. Do you know of any research on getting people to donate to development work?

    Comment by Lee — September 8, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

  2. Hi Lee – not off the top of my head (other than my own very informal very back of the envelope analysis of who gets the most money back home). It would certainly be interesting to see such research if it exists though.

    Comment by terence — September 9, 2010 @ 7:53 am

  3. […] MyAid Reconsidered Filed under: Aid — terence @ 12:39 pm Tags: MyAID In the wake of a conversation in First Life, I’ve reconsidered my opinion on MyAid. […]

    Pingback by MyAid Reconsidered « Waylaid Dialectic — September 21, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

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