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Reimagining Aid: A Call for Fresh Thinking

June 29, 2014

How would you reinvent foreign aid for today’s world? How would you use modern financial instruments and modern technology to give faster, smarter development assistance?  How would you reach the poorest people more effectively, no matter where they live?  How would you use aid alongside other resources both public and private?  And how would you organize the system as a whole?

We are looking for the best ideas from around the world on these and other questions that will define the next generation of effective development assistance. 

It’s a crucial time to be having this conversation. Over the next year, a new set of global development goals - a successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - will be agreed upon to renew the commitment of governments around the world, civil society, foundations, private sector and global citizens to combatting the most egregious inequities: extreme poverty and hunger; infants and children dying needlessly; women dying in childbirth; girls and boys being denied quality basic education.

But if these goals are to be more than empty promises – if we are to continue the incredible progress we have been making on poverty and child survival, for example – then the people and agencies who fund development – including aid agencies – will need to be operating at their very best.

That’s where the need for new thinking comes in. Today’s world is radically different from the late 1940’s when many aid agencies were first set up, and while many have evolved since then we think there is more to do to make sure we are getting the most impact for every dollar of aid spent: we need to re-imagine aid for the 21st century. 

That’s why we are so excited our partner – the Global Development Network (GDN) based in New Delhi, India - has recently launched the Next Horizons Essay Contest on The Future of Development Assistance.  They are looking for your ideas and solutions in the form of an essay of not more than 5000 words. 

GDN will award up to 20 recipients $20,000 for the best articulated ideas.  The Gates Foundation will partner with GDN to promote some of the winning essays.  There will be no formal endorsement of the papers, by GDN or the Gates Foundation -- the idea is just to inspire, share, and hopefully to use great thinking on these critical issues.

Submissions will be accepted in French, Spanish and English. Full details can be found  Please note the deadline for submissions is September 15, 2014.


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