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Tiny Spark

Updated 4 days ago

Society & Culture
News
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We investigate philanthropy, nonprofits and international aid. In-depth interviews and shoe leather reporting from across the globe. Send us your tips. www.tinyspark.org

Read more

We investigate philanthropy, nonprofits and international aid. In-depth interviews and shoe leather reporting from across the globe. Send us your tips. www.tinyspark.org

iTunes Ratings

131 Ratings
Average Ratings
119
7
2
3
0

Great journalism!

By ChiefStylist - Oct 21 2018
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5 star reporting, digging into hard topics and uncovering interesting findings. Love this one!

Excellent & enlightening

By Narwhaleswagrollercoaster - Jan 19 2017
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I listen to every episode. Consistently smart, concise and meaningful.

iTunes Ratings

131 Ratings
Average Ratings
119
7
2
3
0

Great journalism!

By ChiefStylist - Oct 21 2018
Read more
5 star reporting, digging into hard topics and uncovering interesting findings. Love this one!

Excellent & enlightening

By Narwhaleswagrollercoaster - Jan 19 2017
Read more
I listen to every episode. Consistently smart, concise and meaningful.

Listen to:

Cover image of Tiny Spark

Tiny Spark

Updated 4 days ago

Read more

We investigate philanthropy, nonprofits and international aid. In-depth interviews and shoe leather reporting from across the globe. Send us your tips. www.tinyspark.org

Rank #1: Spring Cleaning? Before You Donate It…

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A small percentage of the second-hand clothes we donate to charity actually end up on the store shelves of our local Salvation Army or Goodwill, according to our guest Andrew Brooks. Eventually the clothes end up in the hands of for-profit companies, which sell our old t-shirts and jeans to poor people halfway across the globe.

Brooks' new book, Clothing Poverty - The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-hand Clothes, describes a multi-billion dollar industry rife with complications and even deceit.

Apr 02 2015

14mins

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Rank #2: Tracking the Aid Money: Mission Impossible

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Billions of aid dollars were devoted to reconstructing post-earthquake Haiti and fighting Ebola in West Africa. Economist Vijaya Ramachandran and journalist Amy Maxmen tried to track that spending. They found more questions and a lack of transparency.

May 22 2015

20mins

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Rank #3: Charities: Flattering Results, Poor Data

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Nonprofit advisor Caroline Fiennes has a lot to say about how we assess charities. She used to run one herself. In those days, Fiennes tried figuring out whether her organization was achieving its goals but admits she wasn't always forthcoming about the findings. "When the results were good, we would share them," she tells us. "And when they weren't, we didn't." Fiennes suspects many charities do the same.

Fiennes has now made it her mission to improve the quality of data produced by and about nonprofits. "Charities vary markedly in how good they are, so wouldn't it be a good idea if we could figure out which are the good ones, and get people to fund the good ones and to not fund the bad ones? It's hard to make evidence-based decisions if loads of the evidence is either missing, or bad quality, or you can't find it."

Feb 23 2015

13mins

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Rank #4: Medical Volunteers In Crisis Zones - Doing Good or Doing Harm?

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In our latest episode, Tiny Spark takes a look at the quality of care medical volunteers have provided in crisis zones. We discover that many volunteers who deployed to Haiti after the earthquake had never before worked in international humanitarian emergencies. Many had never practiced medicine in low-income nations. While these volunteers may have been well-intentioned, their lack of specialized training would sometimes have severe repercussions for patients.

Oct 10 2012

22mins

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Rank #5: International Adoption - A Complicated Quest to Do Good

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Jennifer Hemsley and her husband wanted to adopt a girl from Guatemala but they immediately suspected fraud. Jennifer feared the worst: that the infant might have been kidnapped. “We were very concerned that her mother might be looking for her,” Jennifer tells us. What ensued was a years-long quest in which Jennifer sought to uncover the truth about the origins of the girl she wanted to adopt.

Tiny Spark looks at a seemingly good idea - international adoption - and its underside: fraud, corruption and child trafficking.

Oct 29 2012

19mins

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Rank #6: What Can We Do About The White Savior Complex?

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A viral video of an American missionary abusing local hotel staff in Uganda exposed the ongoing racism and colonialism that continues to infuse global aid and development. Through voices with deep experience in the sector, we hear how the white savior complex continues to harm those receiving and giving aid around the world, and think about ways to help it become a more equal space.

Oct 25 2018

28mins

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Rank #7: On A Mission To Make White People Uncomfortable

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Using fiery Instagram posts, and uncomfortable tweets, the social media campaign No White Saviors challenges white people to examine race, power, and their own roles when attempting to 'help' in communities and countries not their own. Its co-founders explain why their motto is: "If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not listening."

May 09 2019

21mins

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Rank #8: The Ethics of Nonprofit Storytelling: Survivor Porn and Parading Trauma

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We explore nonprofits’ propensity to create “survivor porn” and the ways in which the sector trades in “parading trauma".

Apr 05 2019

29mins

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Rank #9: An Idealist's Guide to Avoiding Burnout

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Whether you’re a professional aid worker or just an engaged citizen, doing good for others requires that you to take time to be good to yourself, too. We speak to a veteran aid worker along with the author of a new book, The Idealist’s Survival Kit.

Mar 17 2017

20mins

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Rank #10: Promo: A Global Detour Before College

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Abby Falik says high school graduates should immerse themselves in year-long apprenticeships abroad before going to college; Falik's Global Citizen Year is their ticket.

May 06 2015

1min

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Rank #11: Is Big Philanthropy Destroying Democracy?

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Stanford professor Rob Reich’s new book Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better investigates how charity can undermine democratic values, and explores the ways federal policies help to facilitate greater inequality.

Nov 08 2018

31mins

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Rank #12: In Praise of Lost Causes

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In this holiday edition of Tiny Spark, we explore what happens when someone refuses to accept the idea of a "lost cause" and instead gets down to the work of transforming a troubled life.

Oct 29 2012

14mins

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Rank #13: Bed Nets & Malaria: Following Up on A Promising Idea

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Here's the first installment in a new series I'm producing with the public radio program The World. It's a global investigative project called Tracking Charity. In this story, we investigate a promising new technology designed to combat malaria. I visit the Africa nation of Malawi where, a decade on, serious problems are beginning to arise; ones that may have been avoidable. After the story, I speak with The World's host, Marco Werman, about the Tracking Charity series.

Aug 16 2013

14mins

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Rank #14: The Rise of Philanthropy's 'Shadow Giving System'

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We explore the growing influence that private donors are exerting in national and local politics and why the power the wealthy are wielding today is likely to intensify in the years ahead. An interview with David Callahan, author of The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age.

Apr 18 2017

28mins

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Rank #15: Nonprofit AF: Fragility, Frustration And Funding

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Whether vocally critiquing the sector on his blog Nonprofit AF, or working to develop leaders of color at his nonprofit in Seattle, Vu Le’s frustrations fuel his drive to make the industry do better.

Feb 07 2019

37mins

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Rank #16: The 'Perils' Of Checking Your Privilege

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As aware citizens, it might feel good to check our privilege and that of others, but writer Phoebe Maltz Bovy says that privilege awareness has its problems.

Jun 09 2017

20mins

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Rank #17: Should Impoverished Volunteers Be Paid?

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This story was originally broadcast on PRI's The World. In the latest installment of our Tracking Charity series, I travel to Senegal to spend time with some community health workers who have been working for a decade without pay. Our story explores the ethics and complexities about payment for volunteers who live in poverty.

Jan 27 2014

9mins

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Rank #18: Why Big Philanthropy Needs Scrutiny Not Gratitude

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Instead of feeling gratitude towards billionaire philanthropists, Stanford professor Rob Reich says we should scrutinize the power they wield.

May 25 2017

21mins

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Rank #19: Building a Self-Reliant Africa from the Bottom-Up

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Ugandan-born writer and entrepreneur TMS Ruge challenges the current model of aid intervention. “Just because you're doing something for the poor doesn't mean you're doing it right.”

Jul 09 2015

12mins

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Rank #20: The Soccket: A Follow-Up Investigation

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The Soccket: A Follow-Up Investigation by Tiny Spark

Apr 08 2014

9mins

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