The Development Set and its role in perpetuating poverty

Thursday, 30 August 2018

In 1976, an exasperated development worker, Ross Coggins, attending his umpteenth futile meeting to discuss poverty in a fine hotel, penned a poem entitled ‘The Development Set‘. Several years later I joined a leading charity, dutifully following their extensive orientation courses and briefings, talking theory ad nauseum. I cannot stress enough how the opening lines of Coggins’ poem resonated with me.


  • Gerry Salole

    Because something is happening here
    But you don’t know what it is
    Do you, Mister Jones?
    Bob Dylan

Knowledge means finding the right answer. Insight means asking the right question. In this new blog I intend to share insights into what my colleagues and I in the EFC are learning about the amazing panoply of philanthropic players whose diverse forms and quirks in one way or another help to make the world we live in a better place. I will be taking a look at some of the big questions our sector has to seriously ask itself and in turn has to answer.

Déjà vu all over again: The short attention span and the cyclical obliviousness of the philanthropic and development industries

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The philanthropic and development sectors have much in common, an ever-expending jargon, genuine concern for the people at the bottom of the pyramid, evaluating impact, just to name randomly  few of the thousands of similarities.  In what follows I concentrate on a singular joint foible – their respective razor-slim bandwidths for learning.

Be careful what you wish for

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

“In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

The adage “be careful what you wish for” is perhaps as old as it is glib, but somehow it feels applicable to the third in this series of challenges facing contemporary philanthropy.

Rethinking Poverty: What makes a good society?

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

The title of this book, Rethinking Poverty – What makes a good society?, promises a theoretical treatise on the elimination, or reframing, of poverty and destitution in the UK. It turns out, however, to be an authoritative unpacking of why our collective approach to poverty has failed and suggests some straightforward, no-nonsense remedies for changing the mindset with which we grapple with poverty.

May we all learn the true value of living and letting live

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

I am sitting in my office preparing for the closure of this year and thinking (rather than looking) forward to the beginning of the next and find little solace in the state of the world. I do not think I have ever looked back on a year and thought so ill of it in general political, economic and social terms and I turned 62 just a few days ago.

What does it mean to be a foundation nowadays? Part II

Monday, 14 March 2016

Thinking about European foundations’ response to the current situation has obliged me to distil one other powerful lesson about this dynamic sector which I’d like to focus on in this blog post: that change is inevitable and that, in their own ways, European foundations are in fact quietly adept at dealing with shifting contexts.

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