Monday, February 19, 2007

How to Better Finance Two UNESCO Programs

UNESCO's Information for All Program is the only intergovernmental program exclusively dedicated to promoting universal access to information and knowledge for development. It is a small program, which has been supported by nine donor nations. IPAP was created in 2000, but it has never received a donation from the U.S. government. The Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Program has been invested with the authority to speak on strategic priorities and to lobby and create awareness about issues pertaining to the use of information and ICT for development at the international level. More than 50 IFAP National Committees have been created. The program has approved and funded a number of small projects.

The International Program for the Development of Communication is a major forum in the UN system designed to develop free and pluralistic media with a global approach to democratic development. Created at the initiative of the United States, it currently receives support from 25 governments, including that of the United States. It also accepts donations from individuals (but requires them to be made by bank transfer.) The program is managed by an Intergovernmental Council and its Bureau. Over the last quarter century, IPDC has mobilized some US$ 90 million for over 1000 projects in 139 developing countries and countries in transition.

Suggestion: An website should be created to allow individual contributions to individual projects sponsored under these programs.

With the development of the Internet and the World Wide Web, a number of websites have been developed which illustrate how this might be done:
* GlobalGiving was created in 2000 by two former World Bank officials. It allows the managers of small development projects to post descriptions of those project on its website, and allows donors to make small donations online to those projects. More than $US3million has been raised through this organization, and almost all goes to the development projects themselves.

* The U.S. Peace Corps website provides facilities for individuals to donate to small projects that are posted by the PCVs themselves, thus allowing the donor to directly support a project without overhead to a charitable organization.

* Heifer International provides an online Gift Catelog allowing donors to make small gifts of livestock to projects in developing countries. An email to the organization will allow the gift to be made to a specific project -- for example, to a project introducing rabbit raising in Uganda or duck raising in Haiti.
UNESCO might create such a website for its small grants programs, or alternatively civil society (with the assistance of a corporate donor) might create one in support of UNESCO.

Click here to read an interview with the founder of GlobalGiving, describing the operation of its website for online giving.

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