Very belated new year’s donations

The photo of turmeric will be explained, promise.

I’m very behind on life admin. Here’s what is normally an early January post of new year’s day donations. (New year’s day because it was a new year’s resolution…today it might make more sense to combine this now with something like #GivingTuesday – although that’s only a thing because Black Friday is a thing, and that’s upsetting).

Going back seven years now, I donate 10% of my earnings before tax to some of the world’s most effective health charities. I blog about it pour encourager les autres.

In 2021, I earned a bit of freelance money and then joined the Public Interest News Foundation on 0.8FTE x £40k from May. About £27k for the calendar year.

So I donate £2,700 and then, with gift aid, the charities get £3,375.

Which charities? Well, happily, some clever folks try to identify the best candidates for work in global health that will do the most good: the Centre for [the Most-] Effective Altruism. They’re affiliated with Oxford University, but don’t let that put you off. You just put into their charity, choose a fund (in my case, the ‘Global Health & Development fund‘) then they share it around.

In the past, those charities were usually the Against Malaria Foundation (bed nets), then a micronutrients one and a deworming one (like the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative), but it looks like the fund has widened… it recently made a large donation to Pure Earth – an organisation I’d never heard of, but which is looking at a 10-yr plan to reduce mercury and lead poisoning in low/mid income countries (turns out in Bangladesh they add lead to turmeric to make it yellower… not such a superfood anymore eh?) – I’m not convinced that’s likely to be more effective than anti-malarial bednets or medicines, but I don’t have time to delve into it, and I trust that it’ll be in the right ballpark. (I think their point might be that nobody else is much looking into this… whereas lots of people are funding bednets).

I *still* need to sort out payroll giving, which will save me wincing at the start of every year. (Or stumbling on cashflow like this year). You should nag your employer to sort this at your company too. You can start at 1p in the £1. You can afford it! Until we have a decent global financial taxation system, such as that suggested by the excellently named Patriotic Millionaires crew, it’s a moral imperative.

P.S. Talking of global health, Dr Paul Farmer, of Partners in Health, died earlier this year. A book about him, Mountains Beyond Mountains, is a good read. (The Arcade Fire song inspired by it is good too.)


Open grant applications

Previously, on this blog:

  • Research into the democracy ‘sector’ suggests that some efforts could be made to improve networking in the space (and that this is an excellent way to support the pursuit of a better democracy);
  • I wrote up some ways to do that… but it rather depends how much money is available;
  • The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust (JRRT) put out a call for proposals to do some of this work.

On Monday, myself and a team of partners put in a bid to answer that call for proposals. Our approach has been to attempt to live the values of the thing we think should exist in future: including working together (hence five different organisations/individuals coming together on the bid) and in regards to openness: we shared a summary of our bid doc for feedback (thanks everyone who made suggestions!) — and now, here’s the actual full bid doc. (The only thing I’ve removed is the list of endorsements, because we didn’t tell endorsers that they’d be public.)


Root causes and other stories

Last year, I published the results of a range of interviews across the democracy sector. It was only a small project, so I wasn’t able to speak to everyone I had hoped to.

Happily, Nesta funded an ‘expansion pack’ of interviews, and some more insight from these chats is below. I hope it’s of use to anyone thinking about ways to support the sector, and thus, a better democracy.

I spoke to 16 new people over the last couple of months. Given the typical size of organisations in the sector, these were mainly CEOs. Most people were working on democracy as their core mission, but for some it was one of many themes that their organisation worked on. The interviewees were a diverse group across genders, ages, locations and ethnicities. They included people working for non-profits, charities and for-profits — and people no longer working on democracy.


Sketches for a democracy network hub

Previously, on worrying-about-democracy:

  • Our democracy needs some work;
  • Perhaps the cheapest and quickest first step is to better connect everyone who’s already working on democracy, share info, coordinate and collaborate;
  • That seems to be popular — there are lots of ideas for how this could work and what people would want from such a network; and,
  • The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust are up for funding some of the effort needed to make this happen.

So what does that effort look like?

I’ve made a to-do list, based on the Networking for Democracy report and from further chats across the space over the last six months.


Donations for global public health in a pandemic year

Since 2014, I’ve donated one-tenth of my salary/income to end poverty. I do so alongside thousands of other folks, having pledged to via Giving What We Can.


Next steps on networking for democracy

Over the summer, I researched and wrote Networking for Democracy, funded by JRRT. It looked at the needs, capacity, tools and approaches for the democracy sector to better share information, to coordinate and collaborate. This post is about what happened next.


Networking for democracy

Update: Here’s the latest on this project. The original post follows.

I’ve spent the last couple of months interviewing folks in the UK’s democracy sector — in order to learn about how better networking might help boost our efforts to improve democracy. (The work was previewed in this post.)

I’ve now finished writing up the report.

Here is the full report as a Google Document. This is best for reading on a phone.

Here are two other formats:

Or read on for the summary and list of recommendations.