Welcome to How Matters!

Though “the system” of foreign assistance and international aid is made up of well-intentioned people, it most often falls far short of changing people’s lives. As we enter the 21st century, we have a unique and blessed opportunity to explore the alternatives to business as usual in the development “industry.”

With the arrival of such direct giving websites as GlobalGiving.org and Kiva.org, anyone and everyone can become involved in global change and providing “direct” support to grassroots organizations and local initiatives.

The question is—are we ready?

I strongly believe that we who make up “the system” and those outside of it must develop our skills to nurture, rather than bypass or even destroy grassroots initiatives. Can we take off our “outside experts” hats long enough to truly listen to and connect with the people we are trying to serve? Can we examine and question the heavy accountability systems that take up most of our time, marginalize most, demotivate everyone, and ultimately do not lead to any real assurance of long-term results? Do we have the courage to battle the modernist viewpoints and serious racism within international aid, as well as our own prejudices, biases, stereotypes, and agendas?

This blog will raise more questions than answers, but it hopes to explore the skills and knowledge needed by all international “do-gooders” (professional and amateur alike) to truly raise the level of human dignity within foreign assistance and put real resources behind local means of overcoming obstacles.

And why the succulent icon?


Vastly diverse species of succulent plants grow and thrive in some of the harshest and most beautiful places around the world. They are resilient, self-reliant, and adaptive to changing environmental conditions. Simply put, they are survivors.

The inter-related and repeating patterns of the succulent photo featured in our icon represent the inter-dependence that is at the root of creating sustainable conditions for humanity’s shared future.


  1. Nicole Nelson

    Love it- I think the central question, to me, is about moving past our own egos and examining whose need is really being met at every turn. I see many parallels with the field of social work- how we relate to families is much more important that the content of what or how much we give, say or do. Looking forward to reading more!

  2. Just came across your blog, good stuff! Very intriguing to me as I work with an organization that funds locally-led grassroots groups- we are all about the HOW so it’s great to see this kind of thoughtful writing on the issue!

    Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *