May 11, 2016

Blog

This lead article was first published in Alliance magazine, as part of the June special feature – Beyond Accountability: Feedback as Transformation – co-edited by Keystone’s David Bonbright. A huge shift is happening in the social sector. Dennis Whittle traces it all the way back to the birth of democracy in Greece circa 594 BCE. The people are sovereign! In titling our special theme ‘Beyond accountability: feedback as transformation’ we are signalling that the longRead More
As 2013 comes to a close, I write to thank you for your interest in our work to advance Constituent Voice as a tool to solve important societal problems. Topics like performance management, real time data, continuous improvement and downward accountability may make most people’s eyes glaze over — but not yours! Thank you! 2013 was a break through year for Keystone. We are blessed with a geographically and thematically diverse group of clients andRead More
It is inconceivable today that a disaster like Typhoon Haiyan could hit without a rush to deploy specialist accountability staff and the issuance of guidance about how to include beneficiaries in the way the relief program is designed. This is  progress but it is premature to claim victory. Rather, we need to make sure the humanitarian horse actually drinks the water of beneficiary accountability. Rigorous standards and smart methodologies are not enough on their own.Read More
There is a growing understanding that constituent feedback is crucial to development work. The terms “feedback” and “listening” now permeate our collective discussions, so much so that Lucy Bernholz has made “Constituent Feedback” one of the top buzzwords in her recently published Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2014. As Lucy notes, however, feedback is not always simple. Well, let me refine that point. Some aspects of feedback are relatively easy; some commonly require someRead More
There are few people who cast as long a shadow over humanitarian relief as Fred Cuny, a larger than life Texan who served in practically every humanitarian operation from Biafra in 1967 until his kidnapping and murder in Chechnya in 1995 when he was just 51. A couple of weeks ago I took part in an event at American University in Washington DC that looked at the legacy and relevance of this erstwhile master ofRead More
Yesterday saw the the launch of Lucy Bernholz’s Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2014. The Blueprint is an annual industry forecast written by leading philanthropy scholar Lucy Bernholz about the social economy — private capital used for public good. In her fifth annual industry forecast, Lucy uses both the American and European landscapes to discuss the new “digital civil society” and the challenges and opportunities that arise from it. Keystone’s work is cited underRead More
World Bank presidents are a lucky lot. I am always impressed how their diligent staff pick-up their half-formed ideas and work them up into something really robust. I hope they know that heads of other international bureaucracies are not so fortunate. In any event, the Bank is in the grip of just such a convulsion of creative energy after the new president Jim Kim announced that citizen engagement was the name of his game. InRead More
Haiti’s railway lines, which were laid in the 19th century, fell into disrepair long ago. But there is growing evidence of another kind of train wreck waiting to happen. This one has nothing to do with rolling stock; it’s about the fate of the tens of thousands of Haitian citizens desperate to get back on their feet after years of living in temporary camps in and around the capital of Port au Prince. Ground TruthRead More
Public service delivery in South Africa is in crisis. Service delivery protests are increasing dramatically and becoming more violent. Government has tried many ways of engaging citizens through public forums, presidential hotlines and facility-based complaints mechanisms, but has not yet found a way of ensuring what citizens say becomes part of how government monitors and manages its performance. In August 2013, the Cabinet approved a ‘Framework for Strengthening Citizen-Government Partnerships for Monitoring Frontline Service Delivery’.Read More
After almost four years, 62 participating international NGOs and over 3,000 responses from local partners to our Development Partnerships Survey, Keystone is proud to present a short report (it’s only 8 pages long!) on what we are learning so far. The headlines are: Financial support is well administrated by INGOs, but often conditions are too restrictive from the point of view of partners. INGOs offer a lot of non-financial support to their partners, in aRead More