NoraLesterMurad's blog

Six Steps to “Dignified Interdependence”


Not infrequently, people ask me how community organizations can become independent of international funding. Part of the answer, I believe, lies in reformulating the question.

“Independence,” is a smokescreen. First world countries that claim to be independent are often dependent on the natural and human resources of the global south. Even donors who claim to be independent because they have endowments are hiding the fact that their resources were taken through exploitation of workers and sometimes from war.

Instead of asking how we can become independent, I suggest we ask how we can achieve “dignified interdependence” – a system of relationships that acknowledges that we are all givers and receivers and that recognizes our value to one another.

Here I propose six possible steps that civil society and community philanthropic organizations can take to become less dependent on international funding and more dignified in their interdependence:

1-Act as if you are poor

When Does Bad Practice Cross the Line and Become Corruption?


When does bad practice cross the line and become corruption?

Strictly speaking, corruption refers to the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It includes the obvious: Stealing public funds through accounting fraud or bribery to live a luxury life. But when the abuse isn’t “abuse” so much as it is “flexibility” or when private gain isn’t “private” so much as it is a non-transparent preference that does have some public benefit, is that corruption?

How much is owed to Gaza? Does anyone know? This is not a rhetorical question. I’m really asking!


On October 12, 2014, a bunch of donors met in Cairo with the Palestinian Authority to discuss and pledge support for Gaza. I can’t find any official statement press release from the conference, so it’s hard to know exactly who came and pledged, but media coverage after the event suggested that Qatar pledged $1 billion, while Kuwait and the UAE pledged $200 million each, as did Turkey, and the United States pledged 212 million dollars.

Rant on Humanitarianism

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It is 3am and my left index finger taps involuntarily on the laminate desk because I’ve been told by someone I respect that I am wrong or just crazy (but oh so politely) to find it very strange that the distinction between what is “humanitarian” and what is “developmental” in terms of aid is so arbitrary and from my point of view illogical because (stay with me here) there is a “Humanitarian Imperative” that obliges international actors to provide tents for Palestinians in Gaza and food so they don’t starve, at least not quickly, but there is no “imperative” for those same actors to demand – I’m talking about actions not words – that Israel allow building supplies and equipment in through the checkpoint which they control or that they allow yummy, beautiful, quality Gaza products into the world market so that Palestinians in Gaza can support themselves rather than be 80% dependent on aid (that was a pre-war figure) and please don’t start now about Egypt because OF COURSE Egypt has control over t

Gaza Under Fire: What Does it Mean for Philanthropy?


I’m a critic of “poverty porn,” the selling of poverty to increase donations. It dehumanizes “beneficiaries” (a word that itself is dehumanizing), but even worse, it’s a slippery slope. Engaging donors on the basis of crisis means you always need a new crisis to keep them engaged; successful philanthropy becomes dependent on having a steady stream of victims.

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