Welcome to Wednesday, folks! Sending non-profit and local news items your way …
Japan: “Cutting Through the Noise” – At the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at UPenn, yesterday’s post outlines “the questions donors should ask, the capabilities to look for in a nonprofit, and an example of an organization well-positioned to deliver help in Japan now.” While rightly focused on the crisis in Japan, the questions posed (and the answers offered) also provide a good basis?for considering any philanthropic effort in the aftermath of a profound disaster. Key questions to consider include: “What are the most critical needs on the ground?” “What are the gaps in local capacity for meeting these needs?” and “What capabilities are needed to address these gaps effectively?”
Where Is Our Road Map? — On Americans for the Arts’ ARTSblog, Marete Wester wrote this post as “the clock ticking on the deadline for the March 18 end to the Continuing Resolution passed by the Congress that allows the government to keep on working … the fate of 33 grants totaling $40 million to model arts education programs across the country through the U.S. Department of Education” remains uncertain. She points out that, while numerous other nations are in dire financial straits, “the rest of the world has a ‘Road Map,’ and a champion in the form of UNESCO, that views access to arts education as nothing less than a human right.” Which of course invites the question, why does the United States not take a similar view? (Or not act upon it?)
DC needs bolder thinking on HIV/AIDS — Thanks to DCentric for linking to this Post opinion piece earlier in the week. Brad Ogilvie, founder of the Mosaic Initiative, takes quite a critical view of the District’s approach to the AIDS pandemic, writing that “the system has become so entrenched that it lacks the ability to see any options outside of itself — and there are many. Despite major advancements in testing, treatment, and social outreach, there has been little change in the HIV/AIDS bureaucracy … Instead, we should be promoting bold visions and concrete community action.” Do read the full piece for his suggestion for such action. Do you agree with them?
On the calendar: Kojo in McLean, Bloomingdale parking, Prince George’s development, Anacostia streetcars — As Greater Greater Washington noted yesterday, quite a few “media events and community roundtables will be talking about big issues that shape our neighborhoods. If you live in McLean, Bloomingdale, southern Prince George’s, or Anacostia, these are important opportunities to bring our issues and points of view into the conversation.” Check out the full post for more information … and if you attended the taping of the Kojo Nnamdi Show at the McLean Community Center yesterday evening, we would love to hear how it went!
The other piece of advice I read over and over again is: WAIT. Industrialized countries like Japan have well-developed systems for handling crises, and outside humanitarian groups can easily get in the way of those systems and create logistical logjams. Unlike the situation in Haiti, where humanitarian aid groups have long-term presence in the country and are already “on the ground,” there are no such groups working in Japan. Everyone is an outsider, coming in. This makes providing aid much harder. It may well be the case that Japan will need specialized help from one or another of these organizations once it gets past the critical stage (according to the March 17th Wall Street Journal, Japan has rejected aid from the vast majority of countries that have offered it), but those needs are not yet known. While there is an understandable — and fundamentally good — impulse to give, and give now, probably the best thing to do is to wait and see what the real needs are after the immediate needs get handled by the government and , for example, Red Cross Japan. Be wary of texting $10 by phone: you have no idea where that money is going. Again, the impulse is good, but you would likely be better off holding onto that $10 and then giving it to an aid agency that is really able to make a difference. Similarly, contributing to a website campaign means you are often giving without knowing where your money is going. The best way to give is to KNOW: know what, and know where, and know who. So for now: hold on.