NGOs are great at demanding transparency. They’re not so hot at providing it.

By Nives Dolšak and Aseem Prakash

Justice Louis Brandeis famously claimed that sunlight is the best disinfectant. In recent years, “transparency” has become a buzz word, closely synonymous with good governance. Non-governmental organizations are in the forefront of the transparency movement, celebrating heroes such as Edward Snowden. Right-to-information laws have proliferated across the world. Journals demand transparency from scholars about their funding sources. Hillary Clinton is under pressure to reveal the content of her paid speeches to the Wall Street.


Academics help NGOs get up to speed with digital tech

How would a smartphone have helped Charles Darwin photograph and sort through his animal pics while on the move in the Galapagos islands? We can only speculate. Could naturalist Alexander von Humboldt have benefited from Google maps when he climbed the volcanoes in the Andes? We will never know. But there’s no doubt digital technology is making a difference for those protecting the natural diversity that the two explorers first recorded in the 19th century.


China Law Could Trigger NGO Exodus

by Saibal Dasgupta

China is drafting a new law that when passed will impose tough restrictions on foreign non-government organizations or NGOs. Analysts say the government sees some foreign NGOs as security risks, and is creating a set of laws and procedures that give it more power to investigate them.

At least one major foreign NGO, ActionAid, has wound down its operations, leaving behind only a token presence in China. Several other western NGOs are looking at plans to pull out of China as well.

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Israel doesn’t trust NGOs that get money from U.S. and Europe. Here’s why.

By William Booth and Ruth Eglash

JERUSALEM — Ayelet Shaked is Israel’s justice minister and the sponsor of a contentious bill that would require nongovernmental organizations that receive a majority of their funding from “foreign government entities,” including U.S. aid, to be labeled as such. It may also obligate members of those groups to wear special badges when they appear in the Israeli parliament.

Critics have called the bill a right-wing witch hunt designed to muzzle dissent, especially dissent about Israel’s 49-year military occupation of the West Bank.


Helping NGOs Improve Impact Assessments?

By Adèle Charbonneau

In the development sector, giving a clear, quantifiable picture of a program’s impacthelps beneficiaries and funders ensure that grant money reaches its target, and it also assists foundations, governments, and NGOs in making better funding choices. Yet, such methods and behaviors are not always widespread or consistent, leading to inefficiency and poor cost recovery. This article presents three Asian examples from Surabaya, Indonesia; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Mumbai, India of innovative strategies to improve monitoring and evaluation and the collection of data to measure impact.

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