Midsummer’s Daydream: Reviving Good Intentions are Not Enough

We at USAID CIDI can’t decide if the summer heat is causing us to see mirages or if we are living in a dream. Beginning back in 2009, we admired and followed the Good Intentions are Not Enough blog. But like a mirage, the blog disappeared in 2012, much to our chagrin.

The Good Intents blog enjoyed a cult following since its creation in 2009 as it engaged in frank dialogue about international humanitarian programs, including the impact of donations on relief and development projects. A stated goal was to provide information to donors so that their contributions “match their good intentions.”  The blog featured input from experienced humanitarian practitioners who describe the unintended impacts that unsolicited material donations can have on disaster relief and related programs.

The blog was the brainchild of Saundra Schimmelpfennig, a veteran of more than 20 years in local and international aid and development. Ms. Schimmelpfennig was the founding director of The Charity Rater, the founding director of the Disaster Tracking Recovery Assistance Center, and a contributor for The Chronicle of Philanthropy. After three years of compelling dialogue, the blog closed in December of 2012.

The dreamy part? We are thrilled to announce that USAID CIDI will post selections from the blog here, keeping intact the archived posts and comments that focus on donations. We will release the blogs in chronological order, starting with Saudra’s first two dozen offerings on Tuesday, July 29th.  After each initial posting, the content will be added to a permanent library on our website.

In starting her website and the blog, Saundra stated, “Good intentions are not enough for aid to be successful. If aid is done poorly it can hurt the very people it is supposed to help.” Accurate information and sound practices are also crucial to smart aid.

USAID CIDI’s mission is to provide donors with information that facilitates their desire to help disaster-affected people. Our aim in posting Good Intents’ donations-centric blog content is to offer more useful information about the impacts of donations from experienced humanitarian experts.  Readers are advised that views expressed on Good Intents may not necessarily reflect the views of USAID CIDI. Also, reference in Good Intents content to any specific commercial products, process, service, manufacturer, or company does not constitute its endorsement or recommendation by USAID CIDI.

The Good Intents blog closed in December of 2012 but many of the observations remain timely and have been true in recent emergency responses. We believe that this resource continues to be valuable for prospective donors and for students of humanitarian relief.  Tune in Tuesday, July 29th at 3:30 PM EST for the first two dozen posts, including:

  • Beggars can’t be choosers, but are they really beggars?
  • Mosquito nets, condoms, and recycling
  • Good intentions are not enough
  • If aid were like McDonald’s

If this is a dream, we hope we don’t wake up before next Tuesday!