Headlines: Muhammad Yunus; Diversity at work; Japan relief

Microfinance and leadership change

  • Microfinance Under Fire (New York Times): For context on the situation of Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, and a caution: “When an organization has a founder who is intimately associated with it (as Jobs is at Apple), the leadership transition needs to be handled with great care.”
featured

Tim McNichol, "White Males and Diversity" consultant and coach. Photo credit: OregonDOT (Flickr/Creative Commons).

Diversity at work

  • Diversity is Inefficient (New Organizing Institute blog): Ashindi Maxton writes, “With demographic realities and righteousness on our side, we strive to build diverse movements and organizations. My sense – and tell me if I’m wrong – is that mostly we fail…I’d like to make a few concrete suggestions for how any of us can start right now treating inclusion as a part of our purpose rather than a diversion.”

Relief for Japan

  • LivingSocial offered a unique coupon after the earthquake and tsunami: if subscribers donated $5 to the Red Cross to help with relief work in Japan, the company would match it. Total raised: more than $2 million.

Send us a story for our not-exhaustive news roundup: If you read something that moved you to action or gave you hope, leave a comment below or tweet it to us @idealist.

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Helping in Haiti – Six Months Later

By Erin Barnhart.

This past January, in response to the many requests we received from people seeking information on how to volunteer in Haiti following its devastating earthquake, we blogged that one of the best things would-be volunteers could do was donate money to those organizations with trained personnel already in-country and then wait for the situation on the ground to stabilize before seeking to volunteer themselves. We also advised that the work of recovery and rebuilding following major disasters is enormous and complex and that volunteers would be needed to partner with local communities for months and years afterward. We suggested that individuals be patient and keep checking back for expanded opportunities to get involved.

From the UNDP via Flickr/Creative Commons

Now, six months later, we thought we’d take a look to see what new volunteer projects and roles have emerged in the intervening months for those who are eager to lend a hand in or for Haiti.

Volunteering Today

The heartbreaking news is that there is still so much work to be done for Haiti to recover from the devastation of January 12. But the good news is that more and more opportunities are opening up for caring global citizens to lend a hand and partner with local residents in recovery and rebuilding efforts.

A quick search of volunteer opportunities posted on our site turned up over 70 Haiti-focused volunteer projects and roles, both on the ground in Haiti as well as from local communities around the globe. In addition to there simply being more opportunities, there has also been an expansion in the sheer range of skills and talents sought. Here are some that are currently in demand:

  • Agricultural assistance
  • Animation
  • Business consulting
  • Carpentry
  • Child care
  • Counseling and trauma assistance
  • Database management
  • Engineering
  • Environmental and conservation roles
  • Food distribution
  • Fundraising and development
  • Graphic design
  • Human resources management
  • Legal assistance
  • Medical and health care (including physical and occupational therapy)
  • Oral history
  • Organizational capacity development
  • Outreach, advertising, and public relations
  • Photojournalism
  • Project management
  • Social media
  • Tax advising
  • Teaching and training
  • Translation
  • Urban planning
  • Videography and filmmaking
  • Volunteer coordination
  • Water resource management
  • Website design and maintenance
  • Writing

Want to learn more about how you might help? Search our site for volunteer opportunities. Also, if you were interested in helping in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, consider looking for opportunities to participate in disaster response training in your local community now; getting trained today could prepare you to serve as a first responder in a future disaster situation.

For more information on what’s happening now in Haiti, check out Hope for Haiti now.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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More to Do in Haiti – Lots More

From Mariana Nissen/UNDP via Creative Commons

Economists with the Inter-American Development Bank estimate that the full cost of rebuilding in Haiti may come close to $14 billion — making the January 12 earthquake the most destructive in modern history. A sad superlative to see applied anywhere in the world, but especially bitter for a country already struggling with poverty, ecological deterioration, and political turmoil.

A month after the earthquake, a giant recovery effort is underway. Assistance has come from governments, organizations and individuals in every part of the globe. On February 18, five weeks after the disaster, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported U.S. organizations working on relief and reconstruction had received $774 million in charitable donations. Large amounts of private and governmental assistance have come to Haiti from many other countries as well.

Pathways to volunteer to help with the recovery are becoming clearer; Idealist’s Erin Barnhart offered a round-up here recently. For businesses and individuals with the capacity to offer in-kind donations that might be useful, there’s a long list of needs compiled from requests by nonprofits at work in Haiti.

Many knowledgeable voices urge, though, that the absolute best way to help the recovery efforts is to donate cash to an organization with the capacity to put your money to work immediately on high priority needs in Haiti. The United States Better Business Bureau has advice about what to look for (and what to look out for) when thinking about helping with a cash donation, along with a list of organizations that meet the BBB standards of accountability and are already at work in Haiti.

One final note: If you haven’t prepared your tax return yet and are considering itemizing deductions, a special rule will allow including donations made for Haiti relief during 2010 on the return due April 15th — but only if the donations are made before March 1st (the IRS explanation is here). Of course, any qualifying donation made now can be deducted on Schedule A in 2011, so this is not an all or nothing deal…just a little extra nudge.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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[Volunteering & Service] Helping in Haiti, One Month Later

By Erin Barnhart.

From UNDP via Flickr/Creative Commons

Last month, in response to the many requests we received from people for information on how to volunteer in Haiti, we blogged that one of the best things would-be volunteers could do today was donate money to those organizations with trained personnel already in-country and then wait for the situation on the ground to stabilize before seeking to volunteer themselves.

As we approach the one-month anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake, we wanted to give you a quick update on some of the emerging opportunities to get involved.

Given that many organizations are still in the process of responding to immediate need while assessing longer-term recovery strategies, there are still relatively few opportunities for new volunteers in Haiti. However, a quick search of the volunteer opportunities posted on our site turned up over 50 projects and roles for volunteers to assist with recovery efforts, both on the ground in Haiti as well as in local communities around the globe. Here are a few examples:

Volunteering in Haiti

While opportunities to volunteer in Haiti are still being developed, there are already a handful—some providing direct service, others related to organizational needs assessments—posted on our site. Here are two that were recently posted:

  • Visions in Action, based in Washington, DC, is seeking a volunteer for an immediate two to four week placement in Haiti. This volunteer will coordinate VIA’s needs assessment on the ground in partnership with their Program Development Manager in DC. Ideal candidates will have a university degree and be fluent in French and English, among other requirements.
  • Global Volunteer Network, based in New Zealand, is developing a new volunteer program to engage people in disaster relief in Haiti. They are currently conducting a needs assessment to determine how volunteers can best partner with local citizens and organizations but plan on sending their first group of volunteers sometime around March to help with such tasks as teaching, health and medical assistance, business development, and building and construction. Volunteer placements will likely be from one week to six months.

To find additional in-country opportunities to volunteer, search our site here.

Volunteering from Your Local Community

There are also a number of local volunteer opportunities designed to aid and assist Haitian relief efforts, from providing counseling to support local families affected by the disaster, to participating in fundraisers and remote assessment and relief projects, to serving as part of the support team to staff and volunteers currently in Haiti. Here are some of the projects taking place in the United States (to find out what’s happening in your country, search our site here!):

Again, these are just a few of the many ways people can volunteer to help with relief efforts in Haiti. To discover more, search our site here. You may consider also looking for opportunities to participate in disaster response training in your local community; getting trained today means that you may be prepared to serve as a first responder in a future disaster situation.

Finally, to quote our blog post from last month, the work of recovery and rebuilding following major disasters is enormous and complex and volunteers will be needed to partner with local communities for months and years afterward. So if you don’t see the ideal opportunity to contribute as a volunteer today, please do keep checking back. Haiti is on a long path to recovery and there will almost certainly be an opportunity for caring global citizens to contribute their time, skills, and expertise down the road.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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Resuming Our Usual Blog Schedule; Keeping Haiti in Our Thoughts

This week we resume our usual blog posting schedule, spreading good ideas about community work, technology and communications, nonprofit careers and volunteer service around the globe.

As we do this, our thoughts remain with Haiti. Here is a roundup of the posts we have written about recovery efforts so far:

The Long Road to Recovery — and How You Can Help

Haiti: Technology in a Time of Crisis


Helping Haiti: Things to Consider

Haiti Earthquake Response

We will write about Haiti again when we have more to add to the conversation. In the meantime, thank you for all that you are doing to support relief efforts.

[This blog entry first appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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The Long Road to Recovery – and How You Can Help

By Erin Barnhart.

From Chuck Simmons via Flickr/Creative Commons

When a major disaster happens in the world, it’s common, and frankly humanity-affirming, for global citizens to want to help. However, when the disaster in question is as devastating as last week’s earthquake in Haiti, it is often the case that the primary way folks are encouraged to get involved is to raise funds, raise voices, and raise awareness. And while fundraising, advocacy, and public awareness are critically important activities to participate in, they can sometimes be frustrating substitutes for those who are seeking to lend a hand in a more direct and tangible way by volunteering.

Yet for those seeking to contribute their skills, time, and energy on the ground in a disaster response situation, the advice is generally to wait. Many times the disaster area is so chaotic, the needs so dire, and the resources so scarce, the work at hand is best left to those already trained in effective disaster response and emergency relief; indeed, well-meaning yet ill-trained volunteers can actually become a hindrance or liability in these situations, slowing the delivery of critically needed services.

It’s important to note here though that the advice is not to forget about volunteering but rather to wait. Disaster response can be an extraordinarily large endeavor and once the environment has become more stabilized and critical human needs have been or are more effectively being met, there is usually significant rebuilding work to be done. Indeed volunteers will be and are needed months if not years post-disaster to assist with everything from home and school construction to education and social services to environmental conservation.

Consider 2005’s catastrophic Hurricane Katrina and its impact on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Five years later, there is still significant recovery work underway in Louisiana and Mississippi; a quick search of Idealist’s volunteer opportunity postings today turns up requests for volunteers to partner in tasks like:

  • Rebuilding homes
  • Assisting with historic preservation
  • Delivering meals and other social services
  • Transcribing oral histories
  • Conducting community outreach
  • Engaging in advocacy
  • Updating and redesigning websites
  • Providing pro bono legal advice and counsel

In short, the work of recovery and rebuilding following major disasters is enormous and complex and volunteers are needed to partner with local communities for months and years afterward. For those eager to lend a hand in Haiti, consider investing today in the skilled organizations, staff, and volunteers already on the ground by donating money; interested future volunteers might also explore local opportunities to participate in disaster response training (getting trained today means you may be more likely to serve as a first responder in a future disaster situation.) In the meantime, however, start planning to volunteer down the road. You will almost certainly be needed.

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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Haiti: Technology in a Time of Crisis


From Flickr user Allen Harper (Creative Commons)

By Scott Stadum.

Over the past week I’ve been keeping track of the technological and web-based aid initiatives related to the Haiti recovery. A number of groups—some previously related, some disparate—have quickly come together to leverage their skills, technologies and communities in this time of crisis. I want to highlight a number of these projects to give you an idea of what is happening in this sector.

Mapping

The Drawing Together campaign, including OpenStreetMap, the International Community of Crisis Mappers, Crisis Commons, Ushahidi and others, are working together to map the crisis and share the information with people working on the ground.

Finding People

Google has created a people finder tool using Google AppEngine, which you can access here. Google is encouraging other people finder tools to contribute their data to the project and are making all the data publicly available. Google and Skype are also offering free VOIP calls to Haiti.

Interactive Tools

The Google Earth Blog has highlighted a number of interactive tools you can use now, like the New York Times tool showing some of the hardest hit locations in Haiti, and Microsoft’s Photosynth tool mapping damaged areas in Port-au-Prince.

Building Tools

Last weekend the Sunlight Foundation held a hackathon, bringing “together specialists in database creation, visualization, geospatial data and other fields in order to build reliable tools that field workers and other volunteers will be able to use on laptops and mobile devices.”

Sorting the Missing

The Extraordinaries are using microvolunteering opportunities to sort and tag disaster images and to submit, sort and tag images of missing persons.

Bridging Technology

Telecoms Sans Frontieres, MapAction, InSTEDD and others have people on the ground bridging technology like mobile telecom rigs and satellite phones with information and virtual volunteer initiatives.

Volunteering

HaitiVolunteer.org is working diligently to aggregate volunteer opportunities and volunteer information. You can also check out what InterAction partners are needing and and related volunteer information at Tonic.com.

If you know of other projects, please leave a comment below.

Previous Haiti-related posts:

Helping Haiti: Things to Consider

Haiti Earthquake Response

[This blog entry first appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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Helping Haiti: Things to Consider

This post has three sections: Donations; Volunteering Locally to Support Efforts in Haiti; and Volunteering in Haiti. Idealist staff Jeremy MacKechnie, Amy Potthast, Erin Barnhart, Eric Fichtl, Scott Stadum, and Julia Smith contributed.

The outpouring of support for the victims of Tuesday’s natural disaster in Haiti has been overwhelming. As we look for ways to help, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Donations

From news reports and our organizational contacts, it seems the logistics of sending aid and support to Haiti is compromised by electrical outages, gas shortages, and destroyed roads. Most organizations have sent small teams of staff and are assessing needs on-the-ground at this point.

As our Director of Volunteerism Initiatives, Erin Barnhart, wrote on YP Nation yesterday: While many are willing and able to volunteer today—ready to hop on a plane to Port-au-Prince and lend a hand however they are needed—the reality is there may not yet be appropriate ways for most people to pitch in, especially in the days immediately following a disaster of this magnitude.

Thus, the fastest and most efficient way to assist disaster victims at this time is to donate money to a reputable charity that is responding to the disaster. Many charities like the Red Cross/Red Crescent, Mercy Corps, and Oxfam specialize in providing relief in acute disaster areas, yet they face significant financial barriers to getting their staff, equipment, and supplies to the affected regions. Other organizations like Partners in Health, UNICEF, and the Grameen Foundation have a long history in Haiti and are positioned to make a huge impact in the aftermath of this week’s disaster. Find other organizations supporting Haiti relief efforts on CNN.com or at Network for Good.

Your donation, no matter how small, helps put experienced disaster responders on the ground, and gives them the tools they need to help victims recover. Be sure that you are taking precautions to donate to a reputable organization. You may want to review this article on internet scams that have arisen surrounding the tragedy in Haiti.

Note that organizations are asking for financial donations—not supplies—because they prefer to purchase exactly what they need from secure supply chains, using delivery means that can ensure the safety of the shipment. Where possible, purchasing materials available locally is also a boon to the local economy in the wake of a natural disaster. Read more about why cash donations are preferred.

Some organizations have organized text messaging donation drives: you can text “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10 to the Red Cross; text “Yele” to 501501 to donate $5 to Yele; or text “HAITI” to 25383 to donate $5 to the International Rescue Committee. Organizations should send you a text to confirm that you want to donate, and if you accept, the amount will appear on your next cell phone bill — which you can use as your receipt for tax purposes. These have been very popular and successful; however, it is worth considering that the money may take up to 90 days to reach the people and efforts on the ground, as there are processed through the cell phone company and possibly other parties. Read more here.

Volunteering Locally to Support Efforts in Haiti

If you are not in a financial position to donate, you can still help the relief effort in a variety of ways, often right in your own community. Most organizations don’t want to receive supplies such as clothing, but you can post a donation banner for an organization you support on your blog or website, volunteer at the local office of a charity that has sent staff to the affected area, or organize initiatives in your community that raise awareness about, and funding for, the relief effort.

Such efforts shouldn’t be downplayed: raising money, spreading awareness, or lobbying community leaders to support the relief effort can all generate tangible results for disaster victims. Check out our section on DIY volunteering for tips on how to create your own volunteer project, or visit Idealist in NYC for a list of drives and events being organized in New York City.

Volunteering in Haiti

If you are mainly interested in volunteering on the ground in Haiti right now:

  • Please be patient. Volunteer managers are likely overwhelmed by the outpouring of goodwill and may be unprepared to receive the numbers of people stepping forward to help out. It will take a long time for Haiti to dig out from this disaster, and the long-term volunteering needs will become more apparent as the months (and years) pass. We recommend that you continue to check Idealist.org over the coming weeks and months for these kinds of opportunities. You can search for volunteer opportunities on the site by clicking on Find Volunteer Opportunities, and/or read more about Disaster Relief Volunteering.
  • [UPDATE] As far as we know, Partners in Health and Doctors Without Borders are faced with long waiting lists of physicians who want to travel to Haiti. They ask that you please consider a monetary donation for now instead.
  • Volunteers with “needed skills” can also register for possible volunteer positions at the Center for International Disaster Information’s registration page.

[This blog entry first appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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Haiti Earthquake Response

By Eric Fichtl.

On Tuesday, Haiti was struck by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake and dozens of aftershocks. Initial reports indicate widespread destruction, with high casualties expected. Many survivors require immediate assistance with shelter, food, water, and medical attention.

The Caribbean country, sharing an island with the Dominican Republic, is already chronically impoverished and many of its people depend on foreign aid. In the aftermath of the disaster, the situation will grow more desperate.

Aid agencies, governments, and people around the world are mounting a rapid response. Here are a few ways to contribute to it:

Donate to relief efforts

Volunteer

Further details

[This blog entry appeared on an older version of Idealist; any broken links are a result of having re-launched our site in Fall 2010.]

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