Saturday, December 16, 2006

The long tail...

Globalgiving seems to me a formalised way to search for these kinds of projects and give directly to them. What I find interesting about this is that it’s another example of how the internet is helping to create a long tail economy - this time in the charity / NGO sector. It exactly parallels the changes going on in other forms of commerce, one great example being the music industry.
This quote comes from a blog by Antonio Gould, who says that his knowledge of international development is limited. His blog is the perfect example of why even people with limited experience can have a large positive impact if they are empowered to get involved.

Mr. Gould explains how he came to this conclusion:
When in Cambodia I met some incredibly committed people who were raising money in Canada, then physically taking it to Cambodia and spending it on sending children to the doctor, sending them to school, trying to find ways to get them away from living on rubbish tips and all sorts of other direct action. You couldn’t help but be impressed by the directness of what they were doing. After I met these guys I decided I’d much prefer to give my money directly to them than to any of the large NGOs, just because I knew it was going to have a real, direct impact.
One thing to make clear is that some large NGOs do outstanding work, and often they are either the precursors or enablers of the types of people Mr. Gould met in Cambodia. But he is absolutely right about two things: first that there are amazing (and usually unheralded) people doing extraordinary things at the grassroots level all around the world. And second, that the old system for finding and supporting these people was incredibly inefficient.

We are working hard to create the "long tail" in international philanthropy and aid. The internet revolutionized shopping via eBay and Amazon; it revolutionized search via Google, and music via iTunes. It is now revolutionizing philanthropy.

There is a long way to go still, but we are on our way.