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It’s impossible to gain support for a solution to a problem until people believe that the problem exists. Dadamac Foundation offers a solution to a problem that has been hidden, and is now becoming increasingly visible and mainstream.

The post quoted below was originally published on the Guardian Global Development Professionals Network on Monday 9 November 2015. I’m copying parts of it here because it points to elements of the problem that has led to the emergence of Dadamac Foundation (as part of the solution).

The post was written by  . The emphasis is mine (I’m a co-founder of Dadamac Foundation).

Five reasons donors give for not funding local NGOs directly

Only about 1% of all official aid, and an even smaller portion of humanitarian assistance, goes directly to the global south.


I have been asking almost every donor I meet why they seem unable, or unwilling, to fund the frontline directly. Here are the top five reasons they give me:

  1. Lots of southern and smaller CSOs [Civil society Organisations] do not have the capacity to fill in all our forms, let alone spend our money effectively.
  2. We do not have the administrative capacity to give smaller amounts of money.
  3. We need to channel money through a few, trusted partners so that we can manage risk and comply with our own rules.
  4. We have strict anti-terror and anti-money laundering rules that make giving directly difficult.
  5. We are under domestic political pressure to fund through CSOs in our home country.

(snip – we know local actors offer more efficient and often more sustainable solutions. Instead, it comes down to how prepared donors and others are to disrupt the current development model; how prepared we all are to smash the “charitable industrial complex“, as Peter Buffet once called it.

Part of the problem is that the science of delivery has been strangling the art of social transformation. Driven by the need to measure results, donors have helped to nurture a cadre of contracted civil society organisations, who are excellent at “accounts-ability” but less good at disruptive change.

Naturally, this kind of funding has favoured larger, professionalised CSOs. (snip)

Meanwhile, smaller and southern-based CSOs, particularly change-seeking bodies, have struggled to find resources to support their work. (snip)

All of this has served to deep-freeze existing power imbalances: global civil society now seems to be lagging behind the global economic and geopolitical changes that have started to disperse power and influence. (snip)

Unless donors are brave enough to begin funding in a different way, that fundamentally reconfigures current structures and systems, then we will continue to undermine our efforts towards sustainable development unnecessarily.

Donors need to fund diversity; they need to make available a diversity of funding sources to a diversity of civil society forms and actions at different levels, over different time periods and with different levels of risk. Some donors need to support core funding of CSOs, particularly change-seeking CSOs in the global south. They also need to devolve resource decision-making as close to the ground as is feasible.


Donors also need to acknowledge that funding decisions always have politics embedded in them; they’re always about more than just efficiency and effectiveness. Donors need to accept that one of the roles of civil society is to ask difficult questions and to challenge power; they then need to ask themselves, are they enabling that role?


Most importantly, if we are to push back effectively and sustainably on threats to civic space, we need to build a cadre of confident local actors that have a diverse, and reasonably secure, resource base to work from. A community of weak CSOs, reliant on sub-grants and contracts, will hardly deliver the changes we need.

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Dadamac Foundation

Dadamac Foundation has emerged through years of experience of this disconnect  between people who are changemakers in the global south and donor organisations. We understand the problem. We are part of the solution.

Our challenge is to find people who recognise the problem and want to join us in addressing it. You can contact Dadamac Foundation here.