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Posts from the ‘Think Tanks’ Category

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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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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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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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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Observations from a gathering of African Think Tanks: Of visas, rankings and existential threats

Peter da Costa reflects on a meeting of African Think Tanks where concerns about global rankings and threats to think tanks were discussed. He argues that think tanks in the region need to come together to learn from each other -but this needs to be an African initiative if it is ever to be successful.

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Supporting think tanks series: synthesis of the think pieces -(possible) recommendations

This second post based on a series of think pieces written on supporting think tanks focuses on practical advice for the Knowledge Sector Initiative and similar efforts. It suggests that greater attention must be place on the environment of think tanks and other policy research actors. Of particular importance is to understand the real relationship between donors, grantees, and any contractors charged with delivering the initiatives' missions.

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Supporting think tanks series: synthesis of the think pieces – context related lessons

A year ago, On Think Tanks commissioned a series of think pieces on supporting think tanks for the evaluation of a pilot for the Knowledge Sector Initiative in Indonesia. This post outlines a number of lessons related to the challenges that the context places on think tanks - donor relationships. The think pieces identify at least six key aspects of the context that should appear high in any assessment of think tank support efforts: culture; politics; the labour market; information availability; donor–grantee relationships; and donor/grantee interests.

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The on think tanks interview: Michal Tošovský who mapped Czech Criminality

After the end of the On Think Tanks Data Visualisation competition, we were able to catch up with the winner of the Third Round as well as the final overall winner of the competition, Michal Tošovský. Michal led the team at Otevrena spolecnost, o.p.s. -- a Czech think tank focusing on police and public security -- that is behind Mapping Czech Crime, a visualisation that we think does what it says on the tin and does it well!

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Strengthening Grupo FARO’s Board of Directors

Orazio Bellettini, Director of Grupo FARO in Ecuador, writes about his think tank's Board and what they have learned trying to strengthen it. He argues that it is not enough for them to include well known and knowledgeable individuals but that they must also have the right skills to govern a think tank. As a consequence, he calls for the development of a generation of new think tank leaders who may take-on senior management and governing roles in the future.

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