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September 26, 2013

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1 previous review
November 27, 2012

I worked with a microfinance institution in Kakamega, Kenya through FSD for several months back in 2009. It was a tremendously rewarding experiences, both personally and professionally. FSD takes it... more

September 26, 2013

My latest experience with the Foundation for Sustainable Development has been in co-leading a 7 person Giving Circle in Chicago. Our group raised over $4,000 and funded 4 separate sustainable, grassroots projects in Uganda, Kenya, and India. The topics we funded involved organic farming education and methods, a beekeeping enterprise, an enterprise creating food warmers for meals, and an educational skit for domestic violence awareness.

FSD and the Giving Circle specifically gives me an opportunity to stay connected with the international development community even while I am stateside and not in the field. It also gives me an avenue to connect others around me in my community to international development work, in a highly active engagement role beyond simply cutting a check. It allows me to come together with friends and colleagues to really debate the effect of our grants on organizations and communities, and while it is not the only tool for development work, we think deeply through how we can make it an effective one with the help of FSD.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

November 27, 2012

I worked with a microfinance institution in Kakamega, Kenya through FSD for several months back in 2009. It was a tremendously rewarding experiences, both personally and professionally. FSD takes its commitment to grassroots international development very seriously, and makes an effort to train its volunteers on actual frameworks and tools for development work (e.g., Northwestern's ABCD framework). They have dedicated site teams run by true locals of their respective communities, which helps create buy-in and effect real change. Their partnership model ensures that FSD's volunteers are getting plugged into and are supporting existing, sustainable organizations, as opposed to adding to the proliferation of nonprofits in a given region. FSD's post-trip support and network for its alumni is very strong, too, offering numerous opportunities to stay connected to international development work even after returning from the field.

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?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

November 26, 2012

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November 26, 2012

I worked with FSD while doing my MA degree and to this day the memories and all that I learn is alive and well. It is home to some of the kindest, most professional and humane people in the field that I had the pleasure to meet. Its development notions are clear, smart, applicable and truly sustainable and you get a lot from your experience there. I was allowed to explore and learn as I wished, had contact with development champions abroad, new and smart types of fundraising, was taught database management with all the patience in the world (and then some), all coming together to a personal and professional experience I will never forget. I am sure you are one of the best Sustainable Development NGOs in the West Coast and you are a Top-Rated Nonprofit on my book!! Thank you and good luck with everything! Guilherme

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

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

Some

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?

2009

November 26, 2012

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November 26, 2012

This past summer I participated in FSD's intern abroad program in Bolivia. During my 10-week stay I worked at an organization that promotes women's empowerment and community development in rural areas of Cochabamba. The combination of living in Bolivia, my host family and organization and the FSD site team gave me a greater perspective on the work involved in development, something that is not comparable to learning from a book in a classroom. The fact that I have now tangible experience in this realm has not only provided me direction into my future career in International Development, but it has also made critical issues ever more real to me. The profound impact of this experience in my life has made me a more understanding and culturally sensitive person. This internship married my passion for sustainable development with social justice and gave me a tangible opportunity to see how an outside can promote development outside of the United States, something I am extremely grateful for.

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?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

November 26, 2012

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November 26, 2012

FSD was great because I felt really personally supported while on my internship. I worked at an Indian NGO for 10 weeks and it was a great experience. Even when my phone and wallet got stolen, the FSD staff helped me take out extra money and get a replacement phone. I felt like we had a really caring, personal connection that made my time abroad so much easier!

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Would you volunteer for this group again?

Unsure

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?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

November 26, 2012

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November 26, 2012

FSD provided me with the opportunity to work with a local organization that matched my interests and would maximize my potential in Kakamega. I felt like I had so much freedom in my work, but also an incredible support structure at my back if I needed it.

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?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

November 26, 2012

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November 26, 2012

The time I spent as an intern with FSD gave me a sense of the tremendous impact that a development organization can have on the lives of so many when it is committed to sustainability and when it has the drive of so many dedicated people. During my relatively-short nine weeks with FSD in Kakamega, Kenya, I was able to work with a local secondary school and work alongside the Site Team members and fellow interns. Throughout my experience, I truly appreciated (and was infected by) FSD's incredible passion for their work. I fully believe that FSD has made and will continue to make great strides in the development of their local communities.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

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

Some

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

November 26, 2012

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November 26, 2012

FSD placed me as an intern with Village Enterprise, a SF-based microenterprise nonprofit which operates in western Kenya and Uganda. While my placement was only two months (and so my actual social impact was limited), the amount of exposure I got to the challenges, ethical dilemmas, and "soft skills" of development was very high. What's exceptional about FSD is not really the programming, but the quality of the site staff. Our site team, in particular, was incredibly high-energy and thoroughly integrated into the community.

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

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

A little

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?

2012

August 17, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

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August 17, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

For the amount of money I paid for an FSD internship in Uganda I was sure I would be plugged into a network of resources and professionals that would be working their absolute hardest to facilitate the work I was doing and to be sure my time in country was productive. While the staff certainly was incredibly pleasant, I felt as if I was repeatedly just placed in difficult situations and given no guidance as to what I was supposed to be doing. The orientation is a joke and whenever I would ask questions I almost never received a useful answer (usually it was something along the lines of "well, yes, that is a challenge.") Furthermore, there is a ridiculous amount of paperwork that must be completed in precisely the right way, otherwise it needs to be done. Also, FSD says it has a longstanding relationship with its partner organizations, but that relationship seems to exist in anything but a productive context. They don't give interns any substantial, useful background information that would allow interns to help local partners address their own internal, systemic issues that present the greatest obstacle to those organizations fulfilling their mission. I designed a project that I thought would really help my organization, only to find out 75% of the way through my internship that the organization had huge systemic issues that would prevent my project from continuing after I went back home. The systemic issues would have been relatively easy to address had I had the entirety of my internship to work on them, but as I found out so late I couldn't do anything. When I told the FSD staff about what I had observed, they told me that they already knew of those issues and that they were a huge obstacle to previous interns' projects. Had they given me any type of real orientation/introduction to my organization and mentioned a few over-arching issues previous interns had struggled with, my mind would have been in the right place to identify these issues right away and design a project that - even if it wouldn't address the issues directly - would be able to be sustained within the context of an organization suffering from those problems. FSD seems content with interns building gardens and piggeries even when the organizations given control of those resources lack the ability to utilize them properly after we leave.

The host families are wonderful, and the staff at the local organizations are fantastic, but the FSD bureaucracy really got in the way. FSD is great at allowing you the freedom to do whatever you want (even if you spend your entire internship drunk or travelling outside of your assigned area), but I question how much is actually accomplished by their work. FSD certainly talks the talk of a sustainable organization doing good in the developing world, but in reality, they have a lot of organizational issues to address before these internships are worth the money. There were other foreigners in my town, working for the same amount of time, doing similar work, who paid literally a fifth of the FSD program fee. And they got more useful support than we did.

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?

None

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Badly

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

No

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

April 27, 2011

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April 27, 2011

I interned with FSD last summer (2010) as a graphic designer/marketing and communications volunteer. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with FSD, and it could not have been possible without the enthusiastic/dedicated staff I worked alongside with. Being able to review grants gave me insight to the types of projects being proposed in our various sites, allowing me to see the breadth of FSD's global reach. Overall, I find FSD's mission and work model to be unique and effective, and hope to dedicate more of my time with the organization in the future.

The Great!

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

my time working for FSD last summer

Ways to make it better...

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

bigger location in SF (for more interns/staff).

April 26, 2011

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April 26, 2011

I found out about FSD through my search for a volunteer abroad organization to work with for a summer. I was struck by their unique approach to development and the clear commitment and focus they had for their mission. This led me to speak with their staff who immediately struck me with their enthusiasm and reflected the exact commitment that had initially drawn me to them. Since then I have gone on to volunteer with FSD which has truly been a life changing experience for me. Not only do I feel that I have grown personally but I have also learned more from my experience with FSD than I have with any other volunteer organization or internship.

The Great!

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

Their local office and the communities they have impacted

Ways to make it better...

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

Increase awareness so that more people could benefit from their work.

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?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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