Saturday, 23 March 2013

Overview of Give Aid Direct

This picture below was drawn to help with a conversation with a potential software developer, to give him an overview of Give Aid Direct. It wasn't intended to last beyond that conversation but Amos said he liked it and suggested I post it here. It isn't going to win any awards but it does give an overview of what we are trying to achieve.

Apologies for being MIA on the blog recently but I have had a few distractions. I'll try to find time to do a couple of updates over the next week.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Good news story about Poverty

Good news about poverty??  Really?  Is it even possible?  Yes, indeed it is, although we don't seem to read about it much, it is there and it is happening.  While the year on year numbers do tend to fluctuate as you would expect, the overall trend is that extreme poverty numbers are reducing and various diseases are being reduced.  This is not to say that poverty is no longer an issue - one in eight people go to bed hungry every night, and each year 2.3 million children die from malnutrition - according the IF campaign.  But take a look at the infographic below from as it reminds us of the progress we ARE making and frankly it IS good news and IS exciting!

There's even more good news in this TED talk by Bono - have listen and join us at Give Aid Direct in creating more ways to help those in poverty restore their own dignity and delight in life again.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Rethinking Charities: Food for Thought

Recently I came across this TED talk from Dan Pallotta, which I thought was fabulous in how he challenges some of our pre-conceived ideas about charities.  He raises some great comments about how we view charities and the use of money - I loved the comment about how as a society we praise a leader of a company that makes war games for kids to play and reward her/him with 6 figure salaries and a spot on the front of magazines, but we abhor the thought of a leader of a charity earning 80k.  Dan goes on say that as this is the case then why is it strange to people that it is tough for charities to attract the top talent in the world.  Of course it is not all about monetary compensation, but compensation is definitely a factor.  I also loved the comment about scale and how we are ok with amazon, google, or apple, keeping money to reinvest in the company in order to grow it, but again the thought of a charity using money to become better at what it does and to scale its services makes us very uncomfortable.

We often think about overhead as an entirely bad thing, and charities in have engaged in a race to the bottom on this, but why don't we talk about impact?  I find this quite staggering.  If Charity A has a stated overhead of 50% and Charity B has a stated overhead of 10%, most of us will assume that it is better to give our donation to Charity B.  However, what happens if Charity A is having 10 times more positive impact on its recipients/clients than Charity B?  In my view, we need to be talking and thinking much more about the impact the charity has rather than its overhead.  I also realise that one of the challenges is how do we measure the impact of charities, but there is much improvement happening in this area.  If we as members of society ask charities for impact reports, things will change.

Take a watch of the video and let us know what you think.

This raises challenges for us as Give Aid Direct as well.  We don't have all the answers yet, but we too want to challenge the accepted norm in our attempts to improve impact.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

In Praise of Mentors

One of the stories that hasn't been yet been told about give aid direct is the fact it would not be in existence if it were not for mentors and trustees.  Many times over the past year, I have felt like giving up and often come close to doing so - I hit walls that I didn't know how to climb or go around; I lacked skills, so many skills, to do things that needed to be done.  Gary, my mentor, often would listen and then ask a question from a different angle shedding new light on a challenge or more often, he'd simply encourage me to stop for a moment and breathe.  He was good at reminding me that the majority of the pressure I was feeling was self-inflicted and therefore I could deal with it.  He also continues to remind me I don't need to do everything, but rather be the conductor of the orchestra.  Thanks Gary.

In the past few weeks, Gary and I have had a number of meetings with Duncan to discuss how we register Give Aid Direct as a charity in the UK.  While Duncan has not started a charity before, he has been on many boards of charities, trusts, and foundations.  After every meeting with Duncan, I always find myself deeply grateful for his kindness and wisdom.  The sheer amount of paperwork you need to read, forms to fill out, and things to check, double-check, ensure, confirm, etc. is massive - I often marvel at the fact that so many charities exist!  But they likely exist due to people like Duncan who has been patiently walking Gary and I through the halls of the charity registration.  I owe a huge thanks to you, Duncan for your patience and persistence. 

Recently, I was walking through the Johannesburg airport where I read an old African proverb - "if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together."  I've tended to go alone as I get impatient and want things done now, however it has often landed me in me in more frustration.  In my attempt to bring Give Aid Direct to life, going together with Gary, Duncan, and many others has certainly resulted in going further than I would have ever achieved on my own. 

Thanks to you both Gary and Duncan - without you, Give Aid Direct would have been buried a long time ago.