Welcome to... not another development blog?!

by 31st Jul 2013
Blogging will enable us to connect better with the people we want to reach in our areas of expertise. Photo: handwriting and a usb cable Blogging will enable us to connect better with the people we want to reach in our areas of expertise. Photo: handwriting and a usb cable

Recent research from the World Bank and the LSE (don’t roll your eyeballs) shows that blogging about an academic article can lead to hundreds of new readers, when before there were only a handful. CARE has 60 years of experience of what does and doesn’t work in development. We spend thousands on research and evaluations (there’s a great one on the cards exploring the links between women’s economic empowerment and levels of sexual violence, in the DRC), but tend to keep many of these findings buried from view.

It’s time for this to change.

We are all struggling with information overload - drowning in email traffic, and busy mastering the art of skimming rather than reading, but the fact is we live in the digital age and increased access to information is a good thing – we just need to get savvy about how we use it in ways that help us achieve the changes we want to see.  As a great ODI blog noted ‘we need to aim higher than just creating knowledge for the sake of it – we have to get the right piece of information into the right hands, at the right time and in the right format, to give ourselves the greatest chance at seeing the change we seek take place’.

So what can increased blogging about our work do for us?

  1. It’s quick to do and doesn’t cost much.  Just think, a little time crafting a blog could mean spending less time emailing out reports to contacts databases you have to put together every time. And less time (and trees) posting hard copies of reports to country offices and government officials, who will probably use them to prop up their computer screen.
  2. It will give our substantive research much more impact by forcing us to get better at communicating bottom-line results and recommendations in clear language. A blog requires us to put the most important information in the first sentence – not leave the reader to find it hidden on page 48 of a 60 page report.
  3. Blogs can help us improve our research and thinking on our key areas of expertise. David Roodman, the microfinance guru at the Centre for Global Development drafted his new book by posting draft chapters on his blog and inviting comments as he went.
  4. It won’t dumb us down, it will enable us to do ‘deep dives’! Allowing us to really get into the detail and the nuances that mainstream media doesn’t allow. There will be no word count for the blogs. The old adage still applies– if it’s well written and interesting, people will read it.
  5. It will help us better understand what we are all doing and hopefully allow for more cross fertilization between teams and across CARE.

But Insights isn’t just an indulgent exercise in improving our internal communications, the ultimate (and some might say wildly ambitious) goals for this site are three fold:

  • To position ourselves as credible leaders in our areas of expertise (Private sector engagement with development, conflict, governance and food security)
  • To build relationships with key opinion formers and policy makers (and to attract their communities to Insights).
  • To influence the policies and practices of government and business.

We might not attract 7000 new readers overnight, or convince the UN General Assembly to adopt a new ambitious post 2015 framework straight away, but we can at least ensure we have more than a sad looking pdf with no summary up on our website, as is currently the case!

Thanks for helping us get this far with the project and here’s hoping that you continue to bring plenty of insightful information on to the site, so we can really push it out further to the big wide world.

Alice Allan

Alice led CARE’s policy and advocacy on women’s economic empowerment which included influencing the private sector. She is passionate about the social and economic benefits of savings-led financial inclusion.

Alice worked with CARE International UK from 2011 to 2018. She spent a big chunk of that time working with Barclays and other banks to responsibly link savers to their services. Before CARE Alice spent nearly 20 years working both ‘inside’ government – as a Human Rights Advisor at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and as a researcher in the UK parliament – and ‘outside’ at supporter-led organisations, Amnesty International UK and Saferworld where she helped push for the Arms Trade Treaty. Before that she was a journalist in Colombia and Mexico.

One good thing I've read

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (1958). An all-time favourite book that sums up how change can go so wrong. Generally, however, I am an eternal optimist.

Twitter: @aliceallan3