GOOD

And the Award for Most Offensive Charity Ad Goes To ...

The Rusty Radiator Awards highlight the dim, patronizing worldviews of some international aid organizations.

Image courtesy of the Rusty Radiator Awards

If you are a human on earth, chances are you regularly come across ads for international charities featuring sad, starving African children with flies in their eyes being ministered to by saintly foreign volunteers. Such images of a benighted continent whimpering for salvation from the beneficent West have been around (often unchanged) for decadesin part because they work. These calls to action inspire millions to give a few cents a day, contributing to necessary relief efforts and inefficient, dependency-building aid programs alike. Yet, no matter how effective you might argue these ads are, they’re troubling as well. Instead of showcasing African promise and ingenuity, or helping local partners overcome the hangover of colonialism’s centuries of systematic abuse, they encourage a pervasive, bleak, and demeaning view of multitudinous cultures as incapable, indigent, and eternally invalid.

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The Standards are Too Damn High

An African leadership prize that frequently has no winners has sparked a debate over whether standards of excellence can turn self-defeating.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

Later this year, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation will choose the winner of this year’s Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. Or rather, in keeping with recent tradition, it’s more likely they’ll settle on this year’s lack of a winner. The prize is one of the world’s biggest financial awards attached to a foundation or public honor: Recipients are granted an initial $5 million and then $200,000 a year for the rest of their lives. Not counting two honorary awards to Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the internationally heralded marker of personal service and integrity has only been awarded three times (in 2007, 2008, and 2011) in the seven years since its inception, ostensibly because the committee has been unable to find worthy recipients among eligible African leaders. Now coming up on the prize’s eighth year, many argue that this failure either reflects poor choices and criteria on the part of the prize committee or paints a brutally dim picture of African governance and rulers. But rather than being a terrible thing, the foundation’s reluctance to award a prize may provide room for meaningful dialogue on why no one’s been selected, make the prize really mean something when it’s awarded, and serve as a model for other honors-granting committees all over the world.

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Brooklyn Do Gooder Award Winners Announced Brooklyn's Finest: Winners of the Brooklyn Do Gooder Awards Announced

The Brooklyn Do Gooder Awards celebrate the altruism and commitment of the borough's most dedicated citizens. See who are truly Brooklyn's finest.


This year, I was honored and privileged to help judge the inaugural Brooklyn Do Gooder Awards, and I couldn't be happier to announce the winners here today. You'll recall that nominations and then votes were being accepted for wonderful Brooklynites making their community better in five categories—Arts for All, Caring Neighbors, Community Development, Education and Youth Achievement, and Green Communities—which reflect the Foundation's ongoing areas of interest.

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