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You may be proud of being ranked as a top think tank, but what about your staff?

Evaluations and Rankings can hide the reality of many organisations. It is perfectly possible to be influential and popular while everyone working at the think tank is unhappy and even miserable. An organisation that can be seen, from the outside, to be the envy of all others could be gone from one day to the other if its governance and management is not up to scratch. Here is an example from Sweden.

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Video of Think Tanks Data visualisations event

On Think Tanks and WonkComms have organised an event to close the On Think Tanks Data Visualisation Competition, supported by the Think Tank Fund. The event, in London, included the participation of Brazilian, Mexican and Czech experts whose visualisations were rewarded by the competition. Watch the video and join the conversation.

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Fundraising should be fun… but it is also a very serious matter

Arthur Brooks has found a way of making fundraising fun at the AEI. He argues that it is the role of fundraisers to give philanthropists meaning: to connect their wealth with their convictions. This raises important questions for think tanks. They must think both about what may be politically relevant as well as what may be of interest and importance (literally and figuratively) for their funders. As think tanks in developing countries begin to look for domestic alternatives to foreign funding, these insights may be invaluable.

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Factors to consider when collaborating with other think tanks

Leandro Echt writes about the challenges involved in think tank collaboration. This post was originally written for the On Think Tanks Exchange, an initiative co-supported by the Think Tanks Fund, the Think Tank Initiative and On Think Tanks.

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Transparify: Donors need to reveal their funding to think tanks abroad

Till Bruckner writes about the importance of demanding more openness from think tanks. He argues that their funders should expect them to be open about their sources of founding and the amounts the receive from them. In doing so he introduces a new and exiting initiative: Transparify. This new collaborative effort aims to rate the level of transparency of think tanks across the world.

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Event: Data visualisations -where data, technology and design meet politics

The On Think Tanks Data Visualisation Competition ended in January this year -but it's only just the beginning. We will be hosting an event in London (and streamed online!) on the 10th April to mark the closure of this chapter by launching a digital compilation from the competition.

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The On Think Tanks Exchange: first meeting

The On Think Tanks Exchange is a new initiative that aims to encourage and support exchanges between think tanks for the purpose of developing new relationships, facilitating collaboration in research projects, institutional development, and policy influencing efforts. Its first meeting was held in Lima in March 2014.

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Building sustainable think tanks is a long-run endeavour: the future of ACBF

This post outlines the Africa Capacity Building Foundation's new plans. It appears that a stronger focus on results and deeper engagement with 'senior demand side' players is on the cards. Also interesting, especially for a funder used to helping set up new think tanks, a focus on mature ones. Peter da Costa offers this as a closing post on a series dealing with a recent think tank summit in Africa.

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“Think Tanks in Africa: Catalysts for Ideas and Action” by Dr. Frannie Léautier

In this post Peter da Costa turns his attention to Dr. Frannie Léautier's presentation at the think tank summit. She argues that think tanks play a number of important roles as: Mediators, Trusted Advisors, Transformers, and Independent Thinkers. More importantly, she makes a strong case against the obsession with results: “If ACBF wanted immediate impact it would never have invested in think tanks for more than 20 years!"

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Is knowledge meant to solve technical problems or change the world?

In this second post on the think tanks' Summit, Peter da Costa reflects on Prof. Achille Mbembe's presentation at a recent African think tanks summit and poses an important question: can knowledge ever help change Africa unless it is critically grounded in reality? Otherwise, does it risk being nothing more than a provider of narrow solutions to even narrower expert-defined problems?

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