Waylaid Dialectic

September 2, 2014

Who gives? And do we put our money where our mouthes are?

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 8:53 am
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What traits are associated with more donations to NGOs? Do wealthy areas have more donors? Does education play a role? What about political leanings? Perhaps voting for the left is associated with a preference for giving to NGOs born of a desire for redistribution? Perhaps, on the other hand, giving comes from a right wing desire to help without using the state? And, also, is NGO support associated with support for ODA? Do people who want their government to give also put their own money where their mouths are?

Answers (provisional answers) to all of these questions, based on Australian research I’ve conducted with colleagues, can be found in a Devpolicy blog post here, and in a working paper here.



August 16, 2011

A Confession

Filed under: Aid — terence @ 9:22 pm
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I have a confession to make.

When I donated money in response to the Horn of Africa Famine I earmarked it. Rather than just donating it to an NGO which works in that part of the world (among other places) and which does good work, and then letting them allocate the money as they see best, I donated to a specific fund for the famine. I’ve done this before with other emergencies.

I understand this is bad practice: if you trust the NGO (and why would you give money to an NGO you didn’t trust) then you should also trust them to allocate the money to where they can best put it to use. If you don’t, there is a chance that the NGO will end up with more money than it can usefully use in the crisis in question, while being under-resourced in tackling other, quieter tragedies.

I know this and yet I still ear-marked my donation. Why?

Possibly it’s because I believe disaster relief aid is more likely to be effective than development aid (although I do believe development aid can work). That’s probably part of the story. But it’s not all of it. In part I think my decision was simply driven by emotion and, less charitably, a desire to assuage my own sorrow and guilt — the sorrow and guilt I’ve felt while listening to news about the famine.

This isn’t a good excuse. But it’s what happened nevertheless. No doubt the rest of the development blogosphere has been much more considered in their donations. But I’m also sure than my own motivations and type of donation are pretty typical of the donating public more generally.

Which is something to consider next time you’re about to start dissing Poverty Porn or NGO marketing arms. They respond to us in ways that reflect how we respond to them.

We respond to them, they respond to us.

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