There are 30 locally-run ActionAids all over the world. Secretary-general Julia Sanchez opens up about what they’ve learned about shifting power.

The U.K. founded charity now has dozens of locally run federation members under the umbrella of ActionAid International, but still struggles with financial imbalances between its Global South and Global North fundraising.

Why It Matters

Allowing INGO country offices to operate independently is one way of shifting power within humanitarian agencies, but there are a host of other power dynamics to consider.

Whenever Julia Sanchez, the Canadian secretary general of ActionAid, fires up her computer, it’s always a few hours off the time zone that governs her current home base in Canada. 

She’s been waiting to set up shop in ActionAid International’s global headquarters: a squat, blocky office that sits on a palm-lined avenue, across from a row of whitewashed gated mansions and a condo tower riddled with spacious balconies — the type of ritzy commercial district found in cities the world over. Except it isn’t headquartered in Europe, or Australia, or North America. 

“I have my computer set to South Africa time — which I’ve been doing for the last 16 months to try to pretend I’m there,” Sanchez tells Future of Good. “But I’m not.” Since January of 2004, the humanitarian aid giant has been headquartered in Johannesburg. ActionAid boasted it was the fi

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