Saturday, February 1, 2014

Democracy aid: Two radically different approaches

One Miami non-profit sends the vast majority of its resources to democracy activists in Cuba, the other spends most of its money in South Florida.
Is one strategy better than the other? Or does democracy-building in Cuba require a multifaceted approach?
Grupo de Apoyo para la Democracia en Cuba, or GAD, reported revenues of $1,237,623 on its 2012 Form 990. It spent $1,084,459 - or nearly 88 percent of its budget - on grants and other assistance destined for 450 aid recipients in Cuba.
The Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba, or FHRC, reported revenues of $1,370,165 on its 2012 Form 990.  It sent $178,375 to an undisclosed number of Cubans to boost civil society.
The foundation spent 15 percent of its funds on office expenses as compared to less than 2 percent for the GAD.
The foundation's salaries were more than a fifth of its budget. The GAD's were less than 3 percent.
Group puts a priority on putting aid in the hands of activists.
Grupo de Apoyo para la Democracia expenses
The foundation has higher overhead than the GAD.
Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba expenses
The foundation says its mission is to:
  • Empower Cuban civil society to build a durable democracy in Cuba;
  • Enhance on-island civil society's awareness and effectiveness in non-violent activism;
  • Facilitate on-island civil society with civic training materials, communication equipment, thematic "know-how" manuals (e.g. entrepreneurship, micro-financing, etc.) and financial support;
  • Create awareness and document, within the island and the international community, human rights violations;
  • Collaborate with international and on-island non-governmental organizations to provide for additional expertise and resources;
  • Provide humanitarian aid.
The group lists two significant accomplishments:
  • Promoting "human rights in Cuba through preparation of various publications both in video and in written form for training and awareness purposes to empower Cuban civil society." 
  • Sending "video productions equipment, training materials and other aid" to Cuba.
The foundation spent $338,276 to carry out the first task and $610,972 for the second. I assume those costs include not just materials, but salaries and all the other expenses needed to carry out the tasks.
I wonder what strategies are most effective in Cuba. Is it best to spread ideas and raise awareness? Spread around some cold, hard cash? Or maybe a little of both.

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