Whether you’re interested in volunteering or working at a deeper level to effect policy change, the following blogs will offer you some information and guidance. You can find opportunities for ways to get involved, read about others’ experiences, or learn more about the underlying cause of some of the problems that need to be addressed.
Want to combine your travels with volunteer work? This blog offers news, inspiring stories, destination spotlights, tips, guides, and resources in travel philanthropy and voluntourism. There is a global directory of volunteer organizations, as well as trip suggestions. Some notable recent posts include How to Pick a Good Volunteer Travel Company, What Does it Mean to be a Global Citizen? and Volunteering in Rwanda Beats an African Safari.
Alexia Nestora is a voluntourism industry consultant, and her blog offers tips and advice for those interested in combining their travel with volunteer opportunities. Some interesting recent posts include Voluntourism a Setback for South Africa’s Orphanages, Core Principles, and Voluntourism and Cuba.
This extensive blog offers thoughtful discussions about volunteering abroad, including how you can make your experience count, how to find placements, and how to prepare for the work. There are links to useful resources, as well. Some interesting recent posts include Volunteer and Choose to Make a Difference with Civic Responsibility, When You Volunteer Abroad, Keep an Online Travel Journal to Get Hired and Volunteering Abroad Didn’t Work Out: How Do you Do the Right Thing?
Volunteerism.org offers a wealth of information about volunteer travel opportunities, and this blog offers those interested in voluntourism tips for how to get involved, as well as thoughtful discussion about the movement. Some interesting recent posts include Putting the Voluntourism Experience Into Context, “What Are the Dangers of the For-Profit Sector Making Moves Into the Volunteering Sector?” and What Are the Obstacles to Corporate VolunTourism?
Get tips and advice for planning your volunteer travel, and find airfare, hotels, insurance, and more with this comprehensive volunteer travel guide. Some notable recent blog posts include Geekcorps: Bringing YouTube to Developing Villages, Senior Friendly Volunteer Trips and You Can Represent 5% of Your Nation’s GDP.
GlobeAware is a nonprofit that organizes short-term volunteer opportunities abroad. The group sponsors this blog, which discusses ways that volunteers can get involved, both at home and abroad, and features volunteer experiences. Some interesting recent posts include Photo Memories of Ghana During a Globe Aware Volunteer Vacation, Volunteer Vacations for Singles and A 12-year-old Volunteer Vacationer’s Perspective of a Globe Aware Experience.
Personal Volunteer Blogs
This personal blog of Rosemary Holden shares her experiences as a volunteer abroad. Her posts share her experiences not only as a volunteer, but also as a traveler. Follow along with her adventures and learn what life is like as a volunteer abroad.
Ashley describes himself as “a nomadic aid worker with a passion for photography.” His work has taken him to Asia, Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the world, and his blog shares his experiences (accompanied by stunning photos), as well as his reflections on humanitarian aid and emergency relief work. Some notable recent posts include Remembering Haiti, Little IDPs and Returning from the Mouth of Hell.
Aaron has worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Azerbaijan, but he cautions that his blog does not reflect the views of the Peace Corps or of any government. It offers his view of his work and what’s happening in Azerbaijan. Some interesting recent posts include Why Do Azerbaijani Schools Teach English and Not Mandarin Chinese? Məhərrəmlik and Aşura and Hijab for a Cause.
Mark Fullmer started an assignment with the Peace Corps in August to teach English in the Philippines. He writes about his experiences as a volunteer teacher, as well as other topics that interest him. Recent posts concerning his volunteer experience include Kids, Thinking on My Feet and Community Cleanup.
Renee is a Peace Corps volunteer that is stationed in Uganda until 2012. Her blog shares her experience as a volunteer living abroad. Some interesting recent posts include Recent Poll: If a Worm Crawled Out of Your Guava, Would You Still Eat It? Yes, Ugandan Nutritional Myths, and Lesson Planning Sucks.
Sara is working as a volunteer in Bamako, West Africa, Mali until October. She works with a natural resource management program with the Peace Corps. Her blog shares her experiences in the country, as well as poetry inspired by it. She often uses a narrative style to tell her story. Some interesting recent posts include Paying for Attention, Planting Trees in Place of Subsidies and Sweet Ghana Dreams at the Six-Month Mark.
Bailey shares his experiences, “adventures and shenanigans” around Azerbaijan, where he is stationed as a Peace Corps Volunteer through December. Some interesting recent posts include Being in Community, Work Update – January 2011 and Better Know a Rayon: Balakən–Why Diversity is Important.
Charity is a newly minted Peace Corps volunteer who just started her assignment in Tonga in December. Follow along with her posts as she discovers Tonga and learns how to adjust to life as an overseas volunteer. You’ll learn as she does on her two-year journey.
Charlie and Miranda will finish their assignment in Benin, West Africa, this summer. Follow along with their adventures and learn about life as a volunteer and Africa, in particular. Some interesting recent posts include Back to School, Good Times in Ghana, and Girls Just Want to Have Fun.
Felicie is a volunteer stationed in Morocco, and this is her personal blog about her experiences in the country. Check out recent posts New Year’s in Essaouira, New House and More and Conference on the Coast.
Katie McSheffrey is currently serving in Mingechevir, Azerbaijan, as a Community Economic Development Advisor in the Peace Corps. Her blog offers a detailed glimpse into life in Azerbaijan. Some interesting recent posts include Embassy Thanksgiving, Pomegranate Festival and Another Typical Workday.
Lori explains, “This blog will show you how I figure out exactly how to speak and function like a human being while serving two years in the Peace Corps.” Her work teaching English and community development will end in September. Some notable recent posts include You CHEATERS! November Holidays in Qax, and I Broke a Rule.
Kristy has traveled extensively and has volunteered in countries including Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Indonesia and Haiti. She has even written an e-book, The Underground Guide to International Volunteering. There are plenty of posts about Kristy’s experiences, as well as her endeavors to make her income online.
According to this blog, “If aid is done poorly it can hurt the very people it is supposed to help. Accurate information and sound practices are also crucial to smart aid.” The blog aims to offer helpful information and resources to become responsible volunteers to do the most good. There is a “charity rater,” links to useful resources, a Q&A session, information on trainings, and much more. Some notable recent posts include Admitting Failures, Nonprofit Advertisements: What Message are We Sending? and Media Matters.
This blog offers a collection of tales about life in the humanitarian aid industry from someone who has worked in the industry for nearly 20 years. Some interesting recent posts include Coming to Terms with Sean Penn (Well, Sort of…), Looking Back on Haiti – III: Crisis of Purpose, Crisis of Practice and Looking Back on Haiti – II: Failure or Success? There is an extended series on aid work in Haiti.
Aid Thoughts offers discussions on development and foreign aid. Some of the posts offer in-depth discussions about weighty topics such as politics, elections, governance, and more. Some interesting recent posts include Wrong About China, Revolution in Africa? and On the Probability of Coups.
Owen is an economist who lives in Ethiopia, and his blog discusses humanitarian aid and reducing global poverty — as well as some personal interests such as running. Some interesting recent posts that discuss topics relevant to volunteers and other activists include Tech Tips for Development Workers (4): Online Services, How Can We Raise Awareness in Darfur and How Much Are We Doing for Them? and Could Donor Proliferation Lead to Better Aid?
The mission of this blog is “to generate awareness and volunteer support for projects that invest in education, health, and economic opportunity for girls in developing countries.” The blog promotes grassroots development efforts that focus on local, sustainable projects. Some interesting recent posts include Building a Future for Girls in Nepal, Join the D.I.Y. Foreign-Aid Revolution and It’s TIME to Kick Poverty Out of the World.
The lessons learned on this blog are about running NGOs (non-governmental organizations), volunteering, living and working in Cambodia, and life in general. Some notable posts about volunteering include How Do I Know if I’m Going to Add Value in My Volunteer Placement? Voluntourism: What Could Go Wrong When Trying to Do Right? and Not All Volunteer Projects Are Created Equal.
Aaron Ausland offers “good principles and practices of community-based international development.” Posts are in-depth and offer thoughtful discussion about volunteerism and community development. Some excellent recent posts include Poverty Tourism Taxonomy 2.0, A Moderate Elitist and Poverty Tourism: A Debate in Need of Typological Nuance.
Tom Murphy started this blog as a way to share his experiences working in Kenya. He continues to write about development, aid, and health care reform now that he no longer works in Kenya. Some interesting recent posts include The Economist Compares US States GDP and Population to Countries Around the World, Technology and Haiti Relief and Ngrams of Africa 1800-2008.
According to the blog author, “A Humourless Lot is a journey through the no-man’s-land between logistics, health, and aid work; it tries to make it less of a no-man’s-land and more of a healthy, thriving town.” Some of the most popular posts include The Professional Volunteer: Impossible in Aid? (And How About the Salaried Amateur?), Eleven Helpful Skills and Traits for Aid and Health Logisticians and The Unkindest Cut: Why Gifts in Kind are Often a Bad Idea.
This blog is a project of New York University’s Development Research Institute (DRI) and is primarily written by William Easterly, a professor of economics and the author of The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics and The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. Other contributors also write for the blog. Some interesting recent posts include Aid is Not Just Complicated; It’s Complex, Deep in the Sahara, Listening to “Feelings” and After Sudan, Should More African Borders be Drawn?
The author of this blog works in the field of conservation and development, and posts offer personal perspectives from the work being done. Some interesting recent posts include Don’t Forget How it Was Before, Something is Better than Nothing and Proposal Prepostery.
Bonnie Koenig, the author of this blog, has worked with NGOs that engage globally since 1983. She is also the author of Going Global for the Greater Good: Succeeding as a Nonprofit in the International Community. Some interesting recent posts include Internal Decision-Making Practices: Doesn’t Sound Exciting, But oh So Important, The Preciousness of Water and What Makes Someone Inspirational?
Jennifer Lentfer, the founder of How Matters, explains that the purpose of the blog is to “revive and magnify compassion and empathy within foreign assistance and development aid.” She cautions that the blog will raise more questions than provide answers. Some interesting recent posts include 161 Indicators, and Then What? What’s Missing from the DIY Aid Debate? Overlooking the Capacity of Local NGOs and Changing the System from the Ground Up.
A grad student studying international policy and management writes this blog, which discusses international development and related topics such as politics, management, economics, war, human rights, public health, ethics, and more. The author has also worked with NGOs and nonprofits. Recent posts of note include Foreign Involvement in Constitutional Reform Processes: DRC, Rwanda, Kenya, Things that Work: Migration, Mockery, Meta-things and More and A Grad Student’s Guide to the International Development Blogosphere.
Be the Change You Wish to See in the World
The blog advocates what its name says: Social change starting with advocacy and volunteerism. Other topics discussed on this blog include humanitarian aid, migration, refugees, and international development. Some notable recent posts include Floods Damage and Needs Assessment Report, Pakistan vs. Haiti and 10 Pakistani NGOs I Highly Recommend for Funding.
Blog author Penelope Chester has worked with nonprofits in locations such as Africa and Canada. “My interests lie primarily at the intersection of international affairs, economic development and foreign policy, with a particular focus on African issues and post-conflict reconstruction.” Her blog shares her thoughts on these and other topics. Some interesting recent posts include On Entrepreneurship and NGOs, Free Elections in Guinea and Investing in Women: A Human Rights Approach.
This blog offers up views on “international development without pity.” The author cautions “the posts here will make a lot more sense if you read them in the style of Stephen Colbert.” Some interesting recent posts include I’ll See Your “Change We Can Believe In” and Raise You Some COIN, The Invisible Hand Axe and How to Write About Issue Advocacy.
This blog claims to be “probably the best economic blog (previously) in Southern Sudan.” The author, Lee Crawfurd, used to be an economist in Southern Sudan and now works for Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). Posts discuss foreign aid, economics and development. Some interesting recent posts include Southern Sudan: What Happens Next? 7 Reasons Why Urban Growth is a Natural and Normal Phenomenon and Agricultural Production and Global Migration.
The manifesto for this blog states that the humanitarian industry is suffering from a lack of effective management, and that better information management is crucial to improving management and to support all aspects of relief organizations, making them more effective. Posts aim to foster discussion and provide information about relief work and how it can be improved. Some interesting recent posts include Look at the Philosophy, Not the Technology, Question You Might Want to Ask About Your NGO Coordination Body and I’m With Ivan Illich on This One, Sort Of.
Blog author Jon Thompson has worked in the aid industry since 2001, working with groups such as Doctors Without Borders and International Medical Corps. He also started an NGO in California. Aid Worker Daily offers information and commentary about the humanitarian aid industry. Some notable recent posts include Google Chrome – The Aid Worker’s New Best Friend, Map Kibera – The First Useful Humanitarian Tech Thing to Be Done in a While and An Open Letter to the Humanitarian Technology Community.
This blog strives to connect those working in development and to “provide the latest, up-to-date information on initiatives, meetings and reports related to complexity sciences and international aid.” Some notable recent posts include Globalisation of Vulnerability, When Can Crowds Outperform Aid Experts? and Complexity and the Wealth of Nations.
Jina Mooer is a reporter and producer who covers human rights, Africa and foreign affairs. Her blog offers commentary and analysis on these and other subjects. Some interesting recent posts include On Sudan, the View from Outside Africa, Is Development a (Waltian) “Bad Idea?” and Women as Anti-Corruption Weapons.
Ian Thorpe works at a large UN agency on knowledge management, and his blog talks about his work in knowledge management, aid and development. Some notable recent posts include 20 (Deceptively) Low-Cost Ideas for Development, Outside-In Development and Definitions.
Dennis Whittle is the founder of Global Giving, and his blog talks about development and aid issues. Some popular posts on the blog include Bridges Made of Paper? CGD as Social Capital and The Tyranny of Ideology.
This is “an academic blog about African politics, security, development, and advocacy.” In addition to the thoughtful discussions and commentary, the blog also includes links to resources for ways to help. Some popular posts include What’s Going on in Rwanda? Show Me the Data and What Causes Badvocacy?
Peter is an international aid worker and “addicted traveler” and he shares these interests and others on his blog, which began as an e-book sharing his experiences traveling. Some “signature posts” include Aid is Dead. Long Live Aid. News: Cutting Agricultural Aid Research or How to Dig Your Own Grave… and News: The Global Food Crisis: The Perfect Storm.
This blog promotes responsible volunteering, and aims to help readers find opportunities to match their skills and interests with community needs. Some recent posts include Isaac Booi – Funding a Classroom Assistant, News of the First Volunteers to Amar Jyoti School from Our Local Partner and Mistakes Let’s Learn From Them.
The staff of Idealist.org presents this blog as a way to “help bridge the all-too-common gap between good intentions and action” for those who are living and working in Latin America, or who wish to travel there, and who want to volunteer in the local community. Some notable recent posts include Volunteerism in Latin America: The Uruguay Picture, Give a Student Hot Lunch, and She’ll Eat for a Day…, and Planning a Fundraiser.
Quest4Change is a nonprofit that aims to fight poverty and the destruction of the environment in Africa and South America. The blog highlights many of the group’s projects and volunteer work in those locations. You can browse by specific location if you’re interested in the different types of programs they sponsor according to region.
This blog is written by Dr. Alden Kurtz, the executive director of Hand Relief International. Kurtz shares thoughts on running a nonprofit and on development and aid work. Some interesting recent posts include Best Practices in Procurement for Hardship Postings, How to Land a HRI Job and Survive Savage Attacks on the Industry and Protecting Children – All the Way to Easy Streets.
Charity Navigator bills itself as the nation’s largest independent charity evaluator, and this blog offers donors tips and information to make the best selection when considering a donation. The blog also offers commentary and discussion on issues and trends in the nonprofit sector.
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