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131 Reviews
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April 26, 2011

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April 26, 2011

I first got introduced to FSD when I moved to San Francisco in 2009 and became friends with three people who participated in some of FSD’s programs in South America. I was struck by the degree to which the time my friend’s spent with FSD had been transformative to each of them, both personally and professionally. All three are now pursuing careers in development, in areas ranging from Education in Africa to Urban Planning in San Francisco.

Over time, I’ve gotten involved with FSD as a volunteer and now know the organization well. Aside from the impact that its programs have on participating students, FSD has a highly innovative approach to providing assistance to the communities it works in throughout the developing world. FSD efforts are managed by teams that are on-the-ground 24/7 in the communities that it works in.

This grassroots, bottoms-up approach to development is increasingly recognized as far more effective than many of the top-down models that exist. This is one of the reasons why FSD has grown significantly in size and scope over the last few years and why it is increasingly recognized as one of the most innovative non-profits within the development community.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Seeing how it has changed the lives of participants in its programs and positively impact the communities it works in

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Figure out a way to increase FSD's exposure so that more people know about their work and the opportunities they provide!

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

April 26, 2011

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April 26, 2011

My experience with FSD was truly worthwhile. I interned at the office in San Francisco in the summer/fall of 2008 with the International team and felt the staff were welcoming, patient, and good mentors. I developed good friendships that continued past my experience as an intern. Similarly, the experience has genuinely launch my career in international development, where I am today.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

n/a

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

n/a

February 18, 2011
3 people found this review helpful

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February 18, 2011
3 people found this review helpful

I did a volunteer internship at the FSD Jinja site in 2010-2011. Although I had a very fulfilling and productive experience with the host organization that FSD placed me with (St. Francis Health Care Services), I was extremely dissatisfied with FSD as a whole.

First, the performance of the
FSD site team in Jinja was unacceptable. After a helpful orientation week upon my arrival (which included preparation for cultural integration as well as training on needs assessments, work plans, and budgets), I felt increasingly isolated and forgotten by FSD as my internship progressed. The Program Director consistently failed to respond to my questions or concerns in a timely manner, and the Program Coordinator rarely showed interest in the interns or their projects. Eventually I contacted the FSD head office for assistance on writing a grant. The Program Director took offense to this and thereafter treated me in a vindictive and extremely unprofessional manner. She attacked my character and my work ethic and spoke poorly about me to my host family. In addition, there was another Program Coordinator who resigned halfway through my internship. This Program Coordinator was the seventh person in two years working in that position for the Program Director. However, despite frequent negative feedback from interns, the FSD office in San Francisco has failed to take adequate measures to address interns' concerns or the root cause of employee turnover.

In addition, the main office in San Francisco was inefficient and unaccountable with regards to my needs as an applicant and later as an intern. I applied for an internship in early January 2010. Despite assurances from FSD that I would hear a response within 14-30 days, and despite numerous inquiries, I did not learn of my status until May (four months after I applied). Upon my arrival in Uganda, I learned that all applicants get accepted—even those who did not undergo the interview process. This was very curious to me and made me seriously question why it took so long for FSD to process my application. Furthermore, FSD was fairly negligent with regards to my volunteer fee account. I had a $500 credit on my account in August, requested a refund check on August 31, sent a follow up email on November 17 (no response) and again on November 30, and did not receive the refund until late December.

Furthermore, I find that FSD’s use of the volunteer fee money lacks accountability and efficiency. I paid $7343 in volunteer fees for my 26-week internship. Of this money, $200 went to my project in Uganda and (to the best of my knowledge) less than $700 went to my host family. I questioned one of the staff members at the FSD San Francisco headquarters about the remaining balance. He said that it is difficult to tell exactly where all the volunteer fee money goes. He later sent me a pie chart with an extremely broad breakdown of fee money expenditures. Half of the money goes to what they call “Direct Community Investment.” This money includes the payment to host families and the $200 seed grant, as well payments for services that I did not receive (staff stipends for “24/7 in-country support”) or for expenses that would more appropriately be termed “overhead costs” (rent, supplies, and utilities for the local FSD offices).

After the conclusion of my internship, I visited the FSD headquarters in San Francisco to discuss my experience. However, I felt that the staff member there did not have much genuine concern for my issues. He largely wrote these issues off as a byproduct of the cultural challenges of working in a foreign country.

The experience I had with my host organization in Uganda (St. Francis) was highly valuable and rewarding, and I received beneficial development training from FSD during orientation week. As such, I have given FSD a rating of two stars instead of one. However, I came away from my experience being dismayed at the treatment I received from FSD. I rarely felt as if FSD prioritized their interns in the field, and I was not alone in this sentiment. In my experience, FSD absolutely did not uphold the values of transparency, efficiency, and accountability that made me choose them in the first place.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Their connections with admirable local organizations, such as St. Francis Health Care Services in Uganda, where FSD places interns. Many FSD Interns have done really valuable work and enjoyed their experience with St. Francis.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Demonstrate a commitment to transparency, accountability, efficiency, and respect. Reduce volunteer fees so as to increase access and eliminate scenarios in which there is one volunteer and two FSD staff members at one site. Reduce overhead costs by eliminating ineffective/unpopular sites and by cutting back on money given to personal connections of the site teams. Ensure that FSD values their interns on the ground, those who are actually initiating the "grassroots development" for which FSD stands.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

No

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Somewhat badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

August 19, 2010

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August 19, 2010

Agape Focus Ministry believes each child as the potential to rise above poverty, each child regardless of race color should not have to go to bed hungry, each child deserve an opportunity to be educate, love, properly clothe, and at least one good meal a day. AFM program is in place to provide a better atmosphere for the unfortunate children to build housing and school, provide transportation, spiritual feed the children, The program is based in Agape (Love) and be confidence that the future community will encounter a change and develop in a better way to focus on the future, by using the talents received from AFM, and spread the love with their capacity as citizens rather than focused on the boundaries and failures of the purpose. Our focuses also engage reaching out to family, provide basic daily needs. Preventing Child abuse, a counseling session on weekly bases, is held to restore trust and prevent future child abuse and molestation.

Photos

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

enlighten their spiritual intellect and help them to understand and identify their place in society as well as the kingdom of God.

More feedback...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 3, 2010

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June 3, 2010

Foundation for Sustainable Development inspires me because of the way they are able to work with community-based organizations to implement sustainable, long-term projects. Though the projects are short-term, the very nature of their programs provide incentives within the community to stay involved with their work. That is the definition sustainable development in my mind.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the San Francisco office.

More feedback...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 3, 2010

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1 previous review
June 1, 2010

I have had the opportunity to travel to many different countries studying and working in sustainable development. I have found that often the key to successful sustainable development is finding the ... more

June 3, 2010

Foundation for Sustainable Development inspires me everyday because of the way they are able to work with community-based organizations to implement sustainable, long-term projects. Though the projects are short-term, the very nature of their programs provide incentive within the community to stay involved with their work. That is the definition sustainable development in my mind.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Volunteering in the San Francisco office

More feedback...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 1, 2010

I have had the opportunity to travel to many different countries studying and working in sustainable development. I have found that often the key to successful sustainable development is finding the links between different sectors of society and strengthening those relationships. Everyday I went into work for FSD, I heard a different story about the work FSD does in the field that inspired me and clearly demonstrated their mission to incorporate various development subjects into specific and tangible goals that really do improve the lives of many in the communities they work in. I am continuously inspired by the work they do in women's empowerment. The organizations they partner with have a universal understanding of the problems women face in their community, allowing them to come up with creative solutions that incorporate many different factors, address needs articulated by the women's themselves, provide incentive within the community to participate, and consequently leading to true sustainability and growth.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Mobilizing individuals to take part in their work and increasing dialogue about sustainable development on daily basis for a larger body of supporters.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

knowing that my work is directly linked to the partner organizations and consequently members of the communities they work in in six different counties around the world.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Extremely intelligent, well-travelled, kind, motivated and passionate.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

end global climate change, end hunger, stop AIDs...the list goes on and on.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 1, 2010

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June 1, 2010

FSD is a way for young people to get field experience in development, though at a very high cost. But beyond that its model for development is inherently unsustainable due to the nature of short-term volunteer ad-hoc projects and limited experience of volunteers. In developing countries, it is very difficult to get a meaningful project started in the two or three months interns are typically placed with an organization. Often I find that projects are left unfulfilled or are, from the grander development standpoint, nothing more than student pet projects rather than addressing infrastructural problems. Local organizations I've found are often confused as to the role of the FSD intern working with them and don't utilize them fully.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Masaka, Uganda

More feedback...

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Do something else. Not the most effective use of 10mn bucks.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 1, 2010

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June 1, 2010

I chose to volunteer with FSD because I strongly believe that their development model is the only real long-term solution to economic and social development. FSD knows that true and lasting development must come from within the community and thus works with local organizations that can respond to the communities needs most effectively. The people in the San Francisco office and the staff members abroad are all so enthusiastic and committed to the work they're doing, and it shows every day.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Every day in our San Francisco office we hear stories from organizations we work with about how our support has allowed their organization to expand their services, or improve their outreach, or allowed them in some way to serve more people in need.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Knowing that I am supporting the work of a development organization that is so in-line with my own beliefs about international development.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Amazing! Everyone is enthusiastic and committed.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the world. With so much less than that, they are already doing so much.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 31, 2010

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May 31, 2010

FSDs approach of bottom up community based development support is completely in line with my way I believe development is most likely to be successful. FSD should be recognized for their work with women because of the support they give to their partners in the field, which are often made up of all women. One of the grants FSD provided was to The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) is Jinja, Uganda. This project, supported by FSD intern abroad program intern Heidi Tenpas, provides members of the Budondo Food Security Group with hands-on training in tree growing and nursery management for the establishment a cooperative nursery to promote sustainable home-based enterprises. 97% of the members of this peer support group are rural women living with HIV/AIDS, most of who are primary caretakers of their large families. Formerly incapacitated by their illness and written off by their communities, these women became entrenched in states of economic dependency and insecurity. Correspondingly, widespread deforestation in Budondo is adversely impacting the local climate and diminishing the productivity of members' small-scale subsistence agriculture, further threatening their food security and perpetuating malnutrition. Now that they have regained physical strength and health following medical treatment from TASO, this tree planting project gives them a source of sustainable income security and nutrition while laying the foundations for the economic empowerment and environmental restoration of their households and communities.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

San Francisco when I supported their communications team as a in country intern.

More feedback...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 31, 2010

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May 31, 2010

FSD stands out from most organizations that I've come across in many ways, but their dedication to promoting sustainable development projects that wholly involve the local community is what drew me to them the most. One such organization is Sahayata. They empower women by providing skills training and small business loans to various self help groups in Udaipur, India. Supporting this kind of community-based organization is the exact direction international development organizations need to be going to ensure that the projects that are chosen to be supported are ones that will provide a solid foundation that can survive on its own.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

learning about the various community-based organizations they support and seeing that they truly stay dedicated to only choosing partner organizations that would implement sustainable projects.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

learning so much about sustainable development.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

intelligent, passionate, hardworking, and dedicated.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

change the world.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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