To me, one of the downsides of the flood of content on the web is that there seems to be very little accountability for things that people write or say. This kind of environment rewards the loudest voices but not necessarily the most coherent, thoughtful, or valuable.
I have been a bit silent on this forum due to some lazy habits and a mound of distraction over the past half of the year. But as the calendar turned over, I thought back to last year at about this time and about what we were thinking and seeing on the landscape. My first question was, "were we right?"
So before looking forward, I want to assess our point of view from a year ago. I'm not going to re-write what we wrote back then, so to get the full picture, read that first (it's not that long...you have time).
I must say that we get high marks for this one. We have continued to see the private sector, NGOs, and civic organizations more and more concerned with the "last mile". Companies want to find ways to impact locally and some of the big, blue chip, national NGOs are facing massive restructuring, new leadership regimes, and funding challenges because they are playing an old, national/global game. Local is still at the forefront of impact and development.
To be fair, the theory of this trend is still viable, but the title, and most certainly the actions, have not been all that visible. The theory around this trend was people are realizing that impact on community requires a continuum of effort, i.e., you can't educate a hungry kid. And, when you talk to people about this notion, you get a lot of head nods.
BUT — when it comes to actually partnering and doing things in a complementary fashion, things start the fall apart. "Who gets the money?" "Who gets the credit?" "I will fund my part of it, but I can't manage the collaboration (or fund it...)." So, we still have some work to do here!
Private Sector: B
The private sector is still on the rise in the development space. Companies acknowledge the role community and society have in their success. The challenge here is where they are investing their mounds of cash. We continue to disabuse people of the notion that volunteering is free, but investing in real experiences for people with real impact is still a big lift for some. They will tell stories, create ads, drive clicks and build bikes, but once we get outside of that comfort zone, it all gets tighter. So, the private sector is still on trend, but we need to continue to nudge their efforts towards real impact and effect.
All in all, not bad. If you don't agree with us, let us know!