Around the Institute

Twitterchats / New Players in International Aid / Online Philanthropy

August 19, 2011

Want Popcorn With That?
Vital Voices hosted a twitterchat last Friday about human trafficking and modern slavery to coincide with the DC release of The Whistleblower. The film narrates one peacekeeper’s struggle to expose the UN’s role in the illegal sex trade in Bosnia in the late 90s. It even has the Secretary General talking (a good outcome in itself). Using mainstream films to spark serious discussion can be challenging even when the filmmaker and “talent” agree. Vital Voices’s twitterchat is an intriguing alternative.

The New Stage
The Economist’s latest issue includes a piece on large developing countries transforming into providers of international aid. India and Brazil, for example, are presently mulling over the idea of establishing government agencies comparable to USAID. However, these countries have set themselves the challenge of finding a new way of conducting aid different from the Western model. While it’s easy to follow the pack, it’s much harder to start a pack of your own.

Online Social Experiment
Jonathan Stark’s “pay it forward” experiment has come to an end. As some of you may have heard, Stark invited people to share a single Starbucks card and use Twitter to post their activities, from deposits into the card to coffee purchases. Although this project ended with some ethical questions (see Lucy Bernholz’s great commentary on this), we can all take comfort in one thing: there’s plenty of untapped potential for philanthropy online.