Unrestricted money.

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Kevin Starr directs the Mulago Foundation and the Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program. In his article over at the Standford Social Innovation Review, he explains, why he prefers giving unrestricted money to a few NGOs, that he likes:

Unrestricted funding on the basis of real impact is a lot more satisfying than worrying about line items in a budget. What is important is the impact per donor dollar: the cost per child's life saved, per family out of poverty, per island species saved from extinction. If we like that number--if we think they are cost effective in terms of impact--we don't have to get worked up about overhead costs or whether employees fly business class now and again.

Perhaps donors feel that they're being more responsible by restricting funding to a given activity when they can track that activity closely. They're not. An organization can faithfully carry out the activities funded with restricted money and still not have much impact. The attempt to achieve tight control and close observation can miss the impact forest for the operational trees.

Over and over again, as a recipient of donations and grants, CISVers have almost gone crazy with creating specific budgets and reports to satisfy the sponsor. Only very rarely we've received flexible financial support, that we could ourselves use the best possible way. Maybe some day we'll find a foundation that thinks the way, Kevin Starr does.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick published on August 22, 2011 9:06 AM.

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