There’s an old English rhyme that one is supposed to recite whilst pulling the petals off a daisy: one line per petal, whichever line corresponds with the last petal supposedly tells you how your intended really feels about you. It goes:
(S)he loves me,
She would if she could,
Sometimes I feel that rather sums up our relations with donors. Fads in conservation and development come and go a lot quicker than it takes to see real on-the-ground projects through to satisfactory conclusions, hence the first two lines.
The latter two lines seem reflective of another, equally frustrating problem. There’s one particular desk officer at a local embassy who seems to really like what we do. Lesson learning teams and strategy development consultants are sent down to visit us, a shining beacon in a sea of failing mediocrity (even if I do say so myself). Conversely our friend appears close to losing patience with many of the actual projects that she’s been landed with to oversee.* But several years of warm words and appreciation have so far failed to yield a single dollar of funding. One remains ever hopeful but, like any unconsummated love affair, bitter experience has taught us not to expect anything. Although she is too professional to say so, I surmise that our friend would fund us if she could, but head office has a rather fixed view of things, so she can’t.
* Many donor projects have such long gestation times that desk officers on short 3 year stints get to design their successors’ projects but may only get to manage whatever confused mix they inherit from their predecessors.