Development Crossing

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Sustainability

The Curious Aid Worker: Storytelling with Marc Maxson (Part I)

Marc Maxson is not your usual aid worker.

Yes, he is a returned Peace Corps volunteer, lives in Kenya, works for a Washington D.C.-based non-governmental organization, and is married to someone also employed in aid.

But Marc Maxson also has a PhD in neuroscience.

So what does that enable Marc to do as an aid worker? Marc develops new conceptual approaches to solving "impossible" problems, of which there are many in international development.

For the last three years, Marc has been working with GlobalGiving to help them understand what difference the locally-based projects that their fundraising platform supports (almost 4,500 and counting) make at the community level.

Proving impact from small-scale efforts? Nothing more impossible than that, right?

But that’s where Marc comes in. He leads the GlobalGiving Storytelling Project, which asks people in communities all across East Africa to tell a story about a time when a person or organization tried to help someone or change something in their community.

The number of stories they’ve collected, numbering over 20,000, when stacked, weigh hundreds of pounds and would completely fill Marc’s old VW Golf and then some I imagine.

Marc shares in our conversation about how he is helping GlobalGiving to make meaning from this literal vault of data…

Read the full interview at!

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Comment by Jennifer Lentfer on August 31, 2011 at 8:18am
What does Marc say is the "whole enchilanda" of development? Part 2 of my interview with Marc is up and can be viewed at:


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