articles


Enough Innovation Already!

Jun 01, 2018

Innovation without replication is a waste of time.

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The Cool Stuff Doesn’t Matter If the Basics Aren’t There

Jun 01, 2018

Fund primary health care. Everywhere. Now.

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Let the Man Do His Job!

Aug 01, 2017

It’s hard to be a government minister in a country where resources are scarce. Don’t make it worse.

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Development Malpractice in Ghana

May 16, 2017

How stuff that doesn’t work can screw up stuff that does.

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The Pink Hats Were Awesome. Now Let's Deliver.

Feb 21, 2017

We need to double down on the gritty business of impact. Here’s how.

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Three Buckets of Money

Dec 14, 2016

It’s more of a desert than a jungle out there.


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The Pitch Is Dead. Long Live the Conversation.

Dec 14, 2016

If you treat funders like prey, they'll probably run.

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A Big Problem, a Small Experiment, and a Lot of Noise

Dec 14, 2016

Bridge International Academies has entered into an agreement with the Liberian government to manage 50 government primary schools for one year. It is a pilot program that, if it produces excellent results, could conceivably scale up to cover the entire country.

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Seduced by “The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems”

Dec 14, 2016

Even in the world of poverty and development, seduction sometimes works out OK.

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The Seven Commandments of Funding

Apr 10, 2015

Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.

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Getting Beyond Hype: Four Questions to Predict Real Impact

Sep 02, 2014

A simple way to think about investment and design

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GiveThoughtfully: It Depends on Your Point of View

Mar 28, 2014

There have been many thoughtful responses to our original post about GiveDirectly and unconditional cash transfers. We gave this particular hornet's nest a poke in the first place, and so we owe a response to the helpful points raised.

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GiveDirectly? Not So Fast

Mar 11, 2014

GiveDirectly is the current flavor of the month, and every couple of days someone asks us what we think of it. For those of you behind on your news feed, GiveDirectly does unconditional cash transfers -- it sends money via mobile payment straight to the poorest people in Kenyan villages.

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Get Out of the Office

Jan 30, 2014

I thoroughly enjoyed the intellectual bar fight between Charity Navigator and fans of GiveWell over a recent SSIR blog post. A few years ago, GiveWell posted a no-holds-barred critique of Charity Navigator, and after suitable time to sharpen the knives, Charity Navigator roared back, slamming GiveWell's approach to philanthropy as "defective altruism."

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Stumbling into Philanthropy

Nov 04, 2013

Turning a bunch of money into a lot of impact.

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Half-Baked: Why We Need to Rethink Social Enterprise Accelerator Programs

Oct 10, 2013

Accelerators risk accelerating an impact story instead of real impact.

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Dump the Prizes

Aug 22, 2013

Contests, challenges, awards -- they do more harm than good. Let's get rid of them.

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At Least Take Down the Signs

May 31, 2013

Old-school development and its rusting reminders.

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Be Nice. Fund Results. Minimize Hassle. Help Out.

Apr 04, 2013

The word from the trenches on how funders can make life easier for everyone.

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The Eight-Word Mission Statement

Jan 01, 2013

Don't settle for more.

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Premature Incorporation

Dec 11, 2012

Don't let it happen to you.

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Real World Impact Measurement

Sep 24, 2012

"Good enough" means simple enough to do, but rigorous enough to mean something.

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The Trouble With Impact Investing: Part 3

Jul 11, 2012

Real impact investing is not for the timid.

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The Trouble With Impact Investing: Part 2

Apr 18, 2012

Impact investors -- especially those who consider investing an alternative to grant making -- need to step back and think about exactly what problem they want to solve.

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Another Look at "Carbon for Water" in Western Kenya

Mar 12, 2012

There needs to be more scrutiny around the use of the LifeStraw water filter and more debate about the validity of its carbon for water deal.

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The Trouble With Impact Investing: Part 1

Jan 24, 2012

There's only one bottom line. It ought to be impact.

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Just Give 'Em the Money: The Power and Pleasure of Unrestricted Funding

Aug 03, 2011

Unrestricted money makes an organization work smoothly, enables innovation, and provides fuel for growth.


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Thirty Million Dollars, a Little Bit of Carbon, and a Lot of Hot Air

Jun 16, 2011

Carbon for Water is engaged in a loopy funding scheme and offers a lousy public health solution.

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New School Economics

Jun 01, 2011

"More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics is Helping to Solve Global Poverty" by Dean Karlan & Jacob Appel


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It's Not About the Tea

Apr 26, 2011

By and large, the Central Asia Institute's supporters went for a feel-good story, didn't do their homework, and didn't ask the right questions with the Three Cups of Tea dust up.

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Impact Market Failure

Apr 07, 2011

It comes down to this: we're all operating in a dysfunctional market for impact.

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