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Hey NGOs! Stop fighting with each other!

If you’re sincere about fighting poverty, you shouldn’t be trying to out-compete someone else who’s also fighting poverty.

Bookda Gheisar
Bookda Gheisar

You should be supporting their efforts and sharing resources. That might seem like an obvious point, but too often, NGOs are squabbling with one another. Even in Seattle (where everyone is supposedly nice to each other but really rather passive-aggressive), nonprofits are competing for grant dollars more than they’re collaborating.

So says Bookda Gheisar. And she would know. She’s the outgoing executive director of Global Washington, a membership organization that counts prominent philanthropic groups – from MercyCorps to the Gates Foundation to smaller groups like Burkitt’s Lymphoma Kenya Fund – among its constituents. Gheisar talks with Tom Paulson on this week’s podcast about why NGOs don’t work together as well as they should, the pros and cons of labelling the NGO sector an “industry,” and the rare instances where nonprofits have acted as a unified front. If you work in this sector, you’ll want to listen to this.

Before the interview, though, Tom and I discuss the hottest headlines on Humanosphere from the past week, including the new global momentum towards universal healthcare (and how the US lags behind), and why Americans are still clueless about foreign aid.  No, we are not hating on America. We just think to those whom much is given, much is expected.

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About Author

Ansel Herz

Ansel Herz is a freelance multimedia journalist whose objective is to “go to where the silence is." His work has been published by ABC News, The Nation magazine, the New York Daily News, Al Jazeera English, Free Speech Radio News, Inter-Press News and many other publications. A Seattle native and survivor of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Ansel is producer of Humanosphere's podcast, among other things. You can contact him at ansel.herz[at] or follow him on Twitter @Ansel.