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non-profit

feature friday, interview, non-profit, social change, women's rights

Feature Friday: Zariya & Founder Sahar Khan

Hello friends! This Friday, I’d like to introduce you to Zariya, an inspiring new organization working to support survivors of violence against women – currently in India – through an innovative, tech savvy new model. Check out what inspired Zariya’s Founder, Sahar Khan, in her journey towards tackling gender-based violence and founding a new model in this space! Tell me about yourself; how did you develop a passion for addressing gender-based violence? Interestingly, in high school in Oman, I worked on women’s education because access to education is a cause that was and remains very dear to me personally. However, during…

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legal empowerment, non-profit, public interest law, social change

New holistic legal services program in Rhode Island

As someone who is a big proponent of a “holistic legal services model,” I was incredibly excited to hear about a program launched in 2013 with support from the Kresge Foundation. The program, the Holistic Legal Assistance Network (HLAN) is hosted within Rhode Island Legal Services, and utilizes a holistic approach to identify and address the underlying social problems preventing an individual from moving forward out of poverty. This program implements exactly the model I have been advocating on this blog for a while. The program integrates both legal and non-legal support and strategies and provides a continuity of care across the spectrum of a client’s…

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legal empowerment, non-profit, public interest law, social change, women's rights

Accessing Justice: Best Practices for Women’s Legal Empowerment

The concept of legal empowerment seems to be gaining more traction, and I couldn’t be more excited. IDLO has released an excellent new report called “Accessing Justice: Models, Strategies and Best Practices on Women’s Empowerment.” The study is an excellent overview of legal empowerment and its complexities: legal education, legal services, dispute resolution, and its interactions with informal justice system as well as its ultimate impact on women’s empowerment. Here are some of the very interesting findings of the report: On Violence Against Women in Afghanistan: Comprehensive statistics on VAW in Afghanistan are not available. “Nonetheless, available data at this stage…

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human rights, non-profit, social change, women's rights

The resilience of Afghan CSOs

Today, I’m excited to announce a guest post along with Mahfuza Folad – over at the Building Markets blog for the Professionalization of Afghan CSOs project. Here is an excerpt of the post, which focuses on some of the key challenges that Afghan civil society organizations face, how they are overcoming them, and the personal anecdotes of Mahfuza – a woman civil society activist: Despite the burst of negative press regarding corruption of charities in Afghanistan generated by Three Cups of Tea and author Greg Mortenson’s alleged financial mismanagement of the Central Asia Institute, the reality is that hundreds of courageous and…

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international development, non-profit, social change

Humility and the Ability to Admit Failure: Meeting Sir Fazle Abed

One of my favorite moments from my last few days in Bangladesh was meeting Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the Founder and Chairman of BRAC. Forty years ago after the liberation war and in the face of a devastating cyclone that killed hundreds of thousands in Bangladesh, Abed – a relatively wealthy professional who had studied in England – founded BRAC, intending it to be solely an immediate relief effort. However, once he began this work, he realized development required a lifelong commitment – and that he would be in it for the long haul. BRAC transformed over time from an…

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non-profit, social change

Good to Great: Why Business Thinking is Not The Answer

Good to Great and the Social Sectors, by Jim Collins, is a wonderful monograph that highlights some important, spot-on thoughts regarding leadership and excellence in the social sector (Thanks to Allison Jones for the book!). Although it is meant to be read alongside the original “Good to Great” book, I read it separately and still gleaned a number of useful insights. Here are a few main thoughts and principles from the monograph:  “We must reject the idea – well-intentioned, but dead wrong – that the primary path to greatness in the social sectors is to become ‘more like a business.’”…

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human rights, international development, legal empowerment, non-profit, public interest law

NGOs and the State: Thoughts on Legal Aid in Bangladesh

In a short, but great, article on Legal Aid in Bangladesh, Ian Morrison, Director of the Bangladesh Legal Aid Reform Project, has provided a useful macro-level criticism of the legal aid system as it stands. He writes,  It is far easier and more immediately rewarding to work with NGOs, who have mastered the discourse of access to justice that donors want to hear, who can produce results fairly quickly and who can provide a more holistic service approach than will ever be possible under government legal aid. Nevertheless, the value of this approach in the long term must be questioned….

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international development, issues, non-profit, social change

Can the revolution be funded?

In an age of increasing emphasis on international development and social justice efforts, the non-profit has become the status quo platform for social change activism. In the 1960s, radical movements for social change were challenging the capitalist status quo. Around the same time, foundations began increasingly forming as ways for the wealthy to support charitable giving while shielding their incomes from taxation. With the rise of foundations came the formation of the 501(c)(3) status regulated by the federal government, since foundations could make tax-deductible donations to non-profits. Early on, foundations began shaping radical organizing and Third World liberation movements into…

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international development, non-profit, social change, women's rights

Justice for Afghanistan: A Primer on Partnership

Though I am now in Bangladesh, part of my heart will always be with Afghanistan (and I hope I can someday return). Today, I have a guest post on Kate Otto’s wonderful blog, “Everyday Ambassador,” that talks about the importance of partnership with local leaders and activists. Here’s an excerpt: Perhaps the most important lesson I learned in Afghanistan was the importance of partnership. As the culture of philanthropy grows in the Western world, many young Americans have bought into the ‘savior syndrome’ – manifested through donations of shoes and used clothing, or alternative spring break trips where schools are built…

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international development, non-profit, social change

What makes an effective non-profit?

In my time working with non-profits and international aid organizations over the years, I’ve noticed certain qualities that make non-profits particularly effectively – ultimately for the beneficiaries of the work being done, but also for staff members and volunteers. Of course, since non-profits range so widely in the issues they address, I recognize that it’s difficult to generalize. However, here are some qualities I have observed – particularly in organizations that do direct service work, or that work directly with marginalized groups and communities anywhere in the world: A non-hierarchical structure Some of the best organizations I’ve worked with have adopted…

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