Posts tagged ‘Isabelle Clerie’

December 8, 2015

Special Report: You Read about It Here First

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At Michael Rosen Says…, I strive to introduce you to exceptional people with something valuable to offer fundraising professionals and nonprofit managers. I also endeavor to share useful tips and provocative opinions with you. From time-to-time, other media outlets take notice. Here are two recent examples:

Isabelle Clérié, Country Director, EGI in Haiti

I introduced you to Isabelle Clérié, a young fundraising professional. At the time, Isabelle was working in the U.S. She has since returned to her native Haiti where she is now Country Director for EGI, an NGO working to combat poverty by assisting and training emerging entrepreneurs.

Isabelle Clérié, Country Director, EGI in Haiti

Isabelle Clérié, Country Director, EGI in Haiti

Isabelle wrote a guest blog post which I published nearly four years ago: “Haiti: A Young Professional’s Compelling Lessons for All Nonprofits.”

The post focused on relief efforts following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. In addition to providing some interesting insights into the relief efforts, Isabelle shares some valuable tips that can make any charity more effective.

Now, Forbes has discovered Isabelle and has highlighted her work in Haiti in a recent report: “Three Social Entrepreneurs Driving Growth And Change In Haiti.”

I congratulate Isabelle on the much-deserved public recognition she has received, and I applaud EGI for making a difference in Haiti.

I encourage you to read Isabelle’s post and the article in Forbes.


My regular readers know that while I like the idea of #GivingTuesday, I have not been impressed with the results. In fact, I actually have some serious concerns about the occasion.

Recently, The Chronicle of Philanthropy interviewed me for the article “Giving Tuesday? More Like Gimmick Tuesday, Some Small Nonprofits Say.” This gave me the opportunity to once again share my thoughts on the subject. You can download the article and read what I had to say.

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August 2, 2013

“Charitable-Industrial Complex” Huh?

[Publisher’s Note: For a list of the “Top 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants,” checkout the Special Report here.]


I grew up poor. Let me be clear. We were not welfare poor, but we were food-stamp poor.

Because of my upbringing, one of the things I now enjoy in life is reading articles that beautifully demonstrate rich, liberal guilt. One such article recently appeared in The New York Times: “The Charitable-Industrial Complex” by Peter Buffett, son of multi-billionaire Warren Buffett.

In his op-ed article, Peter describes what he sees as the problems of “Philanthropic Colonialism” and the “Charitable-Industrial Complex.” It could have been amusing if it was not so irresponsible and potentially dangerous. It could have even been a worthwhile piece if it had demonstrated any serious intellectual thought. I encourage you to read it.

George E. Wolf, a consultant, called my attention to the Buffett op-ed piece when he started a discussion in the Philanthropy Network Group on LinkedIn. I thank him for starting the conversation and inspiring this blog post.

Guilt Washing Station-NY TimesIn case you don’t believe me about the article containing a big dose of rich, liberal guilt, consider the graphic that accompanied the piece, which I’m presenting here (left).

Peter Buffett has a very comfortable life thanks to his capitalist father. Now, after reaping the enormous benefits of his father’s hard work and, I suspect, his father’s good name and connections, Peter complains about the ugly side of capitalism. While he states he’s not opposed to the capitalist system, he spends a great deal of time in his article complaining about the very system that has given him his comfortable life. 

Sadly, he does little to propose an alternative. The only exception is a rather vague suggestion that we pursue “humanism,” though he fails to define the term or provide any examples of humanism in action.

Peter is entitled to his opinions. He’s also entitled to be philanthropic, or not, in whatever way he chooses.

However, as an intellectual exercise, his article is sorely lacking.

For example, he asserts that there is a growing “charitable-industrial complex.” To support his claim, he looks at the $316 billion in philanthropic support contributed in the USA in 2012 and the growth rate of 25 percent in the number of American nonprofit organizations between 2001 and 2011. So what?

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February 17, 2012

Haiti: A Young Professional’s Compelling Lessons for All Nonprofits

It’s been just over two years since a catastrophic, magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti. Today, the people of that small island nation continue to suffer.

What lessons should the nonprofit community have learned by now in order to better help Haiti? What lessons can all foreign aid organizations learn from Haiti that can be applied anywhere? What lessons can all nonprofit organizations learn from Haiti that will help them be more successful, whether they operate internationally or even domestically?

These were the questions running through my mind as I watched news coverage of the anniversary of the earthquake. Then, I learned that a friend of mine was back in the United States after returning home for Christmas to visit family and friends in Haiti.

Soon after her return to the U.S., I had lunch with Isabelle Clérié (@iclerie). For those of you who don’t know Isabelle, you should. She’s a sharp nonprofit young-professional. She’s done work for a number of non-governmental organizations in Haiti. She now works on the capital campaign team at the Franklin Institute, the largest science museum in Philadelphia. Isabelle holds a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management from Florida Atlantic University.

Isabelle and I talked about what she found in Haiti and the enormous challenges that remain there. I invited Isabelle to write a guest post that would begin to address some of my questions. I’m grateful that she agreed to write the following post.

Haiti has much it can teach us. I thank Isabelle, a Haitian with an American-education who is a nonprofit professional, for sharing her unique insights that can benefit us all:


Clean-up in Haiti with Oxfam's cash-for-work program. (2010)

During my last trip home to Haiti, I was repeatedly asked why I wasn’t working there. It was assumed that as a nonprofit professional, living in a country brimming with NGOs would naturally be “heaven” for me; with jobs aplenty, organizations of all shapes and sizes; it’s a veritable nonprofit buffet of opportunity! But, there are also enormous challenges.

The topic of NGOs in Haiti is a popular one, usually discussed under an umbrella of criticism and distrust. My intention here is not to point fingers but to shed some light so NGOs working in Haiti and in other underdeveloped countries, even those working in the U.S., can actually have the impact they advertise if they consider the following:

Be an anthropologist.

NGOs working in underdeveloped countries are too often guilty of ethnocentrism. They come with good intent and programs bursting with the potential to truly change the circumstances they exist to combat, but they do not consider the culture of the country and its people.

It is so important for NGOs to work with the people they are serving. I’m not saying to go out into a community and take a survey. I mean that before NGOs invest everything in a program or project they really need to get to know the community in which they’ll be working. Underdeveloped though it may be, Haiti is not without its ways of doing things. Despite the political climate, there are social conventions that, if observed, can save a lot of time and frustration.

Don’t assume that people are incapable because they are uneducated and do not assume that they don’t understand when they are being taken advantage of. The majority of Haitians may be uneducated, but ignorance is not stupidity.

Work together!

I know. So obvious and, yet, so uncommon. For nonprofits, especially those working in developing areas, working together does not have to mean sharing financial resources. In fact, collaborative efforts will save oodles of time and money.

I was working with a group that had undertaken to refurbish a girls’ orphanage in Haiti. I developed a framework for the project that identified and prioritized all of the components from construction, education, health, and even the self-esteem needs of the girls. I was adamant about working with other organizations and suggested that we work with different organizations in very much the same way that a business would get outside services (i.e.: printing and cleaning).

We wanted to have feminine health professionals not only perform regular exams for the girls, but also to hold sexual education seminars, and teach them about STDs and how they can protect themselves. I identified a group that did exactly that and proposed that the orphanage become one of their service recipients. We would determine a schedule for medical visits as well as the seminars and that’s that. No money is dispensed on our side, and the other group does what it does so well.

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