Recently, a donor raised concerns about the quality of the construction work being done on a new school I'm helping locals build. His concerns were all raised by a single instagram.
From this single photo, the donor concluded that the rods were not joined properly. Therefore, this building is being built improperly. Therefore, this school won't last. Etc etc etc.,.
I'd like to address this and I'd like to start by sharing a classification system I've developed as an educational tool to explain to others how various charities build schools.
The Latest Chapter
A Muslim’s Thoughts on 9/11
As a Muslim, I feel personally ashamed at what happened on September 11th, 2001. I know I shouldn’t be – I wasn’t (nor any Muslim I could possibly personally know) involved in that heinous act.
But Islam emphasizes unity. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Canadian Muslim, Arab Muslim, or a Bangladeshi Muslim. It makes me think: the 9/11 hijackers probably prayed in the direction of Mecca and fasted for Ramadan just like me.
Yet, the first thing that most Muslims around the world did was point out that the perpetrators of 9/11 don’t represent them or Islam. As if distancing ourselves ...
Have To Be Poor To Help The Poor?
If you follow me on Twitter, you already know I'm back in Bangladesh. When I'm Dhaka, I live with my maternal uncle and aunt. Lately, I've been noticing a trend.
Just a few days ago, when I came back home carrying a bunch of groceries, my uncle chastised me saying "you better not have used any donations to pay for those groceries!". In his mind, using donations - however small - for my own food, clothing, or anything that benefits me would be tantamount to stealing.
[caption id="attachment_3748" align="aligncenter" width="499" caption="Toilet paper, antibiotics, soap, and pajamas - not taking a salary from ...
But, I’d have to say my favorite was seeing Scott Harrison on stage. If you’ve been following my work for a while this probably comes as no surprise. I’ve been a fan of Charity: Water for a while now.
Charity: Water works on a very different model than most NGOs. They track where every dollar goes so you know exactly what you funded and, unless you specifically ask to do so, they will never use your donation to pay for their salaries or marketing overhead.
I had a chance to sit down with Scott 1-on-1 and ask him about his model, how they have quantitative data that shows their work has made an impact, and how raising overhead separately still means that good aid and development costs money to be done right.
Anytime I get a Skype Video Call, I kind of marvel at how the world has changed. Think about it: if you’re like me you grew up with Star Trek (for me, it was TNG), the idea of being able to have a video call with someone was really sci-fi. Now so many of us do it everyday.
The very first pilot of Star Trek (which didn
A few days back, I got a Skype Video Call from Sweden. It was from the head office of Ericsson – a global telecommunications company with over $30 billion dollars in revenue last year. By the time that call ended, I was left wondering at how the world has changed – but for different reasons.
Something like this would never have happened when my dad was my age. Back then, corporations (especially multi-billion dollar ones) would carefully craft, control, and curate their corporate message. Giving such control to a non-employee was corporate heresy back then. And, as you can see below, this kind of control didn’t always bring diversity into a corporation’s message:
But here I am. I wasn’t asked to tell you how great the company is – after all, they can’t fire me if they don’t like what I say. And they don’t care that I use an iPhone and that none of my friends own a Sony Ericsson phone – in fact, as I have learned, most of their business has nothing to do with making products for consumers like you and I to buy.
I’ve talked about how this is happening – albeit much more cautiously – in the non-profit world. Experts like Beth Kanter like to call this the “Networked Nonprofit”. But it turns out, for-profit corporations have been already doing this for a while. After all, with technology and social media, an individual’s voice can sometimes be louder than an institution’s.
I believe when it comes to solving some of the world’s most difficult problems – we need to imagine these problems complexly. And to imagine something complexly we need to have a diversity in conversation. That diversity means individuals, institutions (including NGOs), and international corporations have to work together, network together, and – hopefully – solve things together.