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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Foundation for Sustainable Development

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Alliances & Advocacy, Arts & Culture, Economic Development, International, International Economic Development, Microfinance, Philanthropy

Mission: FSD supports the efforts of grassroots development organizations in Africa, Asia and Latin America that are working to better their communities, environments, and the economic opportunities around them. We believe economic development begins with community development and is only sustainable if it comes from and is supported by the members of these communities. Also, through our programs, we aim to raise international awareness of the economic challenges in developing countries and support cross-cultural communities in finding more effective solutions to development issues.

Target demographics: International communities achieve locally based goals and improve lives and communities.

Geographic areas served: Latin America, Africa, Asia

Programs: Capacity building in community-based development programs; training in community development for student and professional volunteers who work with our partners; grantmaking to community partners; engaged phlianthropy through giving circles

Community Stories

171 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

9

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Through FSD I was able to experience the technological challenges that villagers in Uganda face. FSD did 2 things very well. Firstly, they assigned me to a community that was excited about technology and found me a wonderful host family. Living among the community and working with them to provide useful sustainable businesses could not have happened with my organization alone. Secondly they advised me on how to best approach sustainable development. The keys rules are to ensure that any initiative you and the community spend time building, is one where all the correct incentives line up such that the initiative continues well past your time. This was important advice to ensuring that your time is not wasted on projects that fail. Instead, most FSD projects lead to some tangible benefit for the community because the community is the main driver. The interns learn a great deal and help where they can by offering their knowledge and experience in a very different part of the world. This is a passive but highly effective method of development.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I have heard a lot of good things about FSD, especially in working with international development organizations in the past decade. Their model of volunteer-based development work is more respectful of local wisdom than most other programs and promotes actually sustainable progress.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started out as an FSD intern in Mombasa, Kenya and could not have had a better experience. I chose FSD after many months of research on just about every international volunteer organization. FSD stood out to me because of its focus on long-term sustainable support to local community organizations, as well as its training in project design, grant-writing, and other community development tools. I felt it would give me the most bang for my buck. After my internship, I always wanted to go back to Kenya and later I finally returned as an FSD Program Coordinator in Kakamega. After working as Coordinator, I couldn't get enough of FSD and pursued a staff position in their headquarters to continue to support FSD's network of community partners, international interns, and an amazing group of field staff.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked with FSD last summer in San Francisco. As a member of the behind-the-scenes aspect I will just say that FSD is a incredibly compassionate non-profit who cares about creating a sustainable and respectful relationship with communities on the ground. I loved working with everyone in the office. The integration of the student volunteers over seas is a key aspect to FSD's model, and one that is both educational and effective. I would love to go abroad as an FSD volunteer. Thanks for all that you do FSD!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I served in Kakamega, Kenya for 6 months (September 2011-March 2012) with FSD. I chose FSD because the organization emphasized grassroots development and it had host organizations that focused on human rights including advocacy for persons with disabilities; which is what I'm passionate about. I had the opportunity to work with Empowerment of Disabled Development Organization (EDDO) and be involved with the locals in advocating for human rights. My invaluable experience with FSD and my host organization, EDDO truly inspired me to go to graduate school for International Development. The inspiration came from the seeing the change happening within the community I served; genuine change that would continue to grow over time. The idea of being a part of changing a community using resources available and self -sustainability was amazing.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

For six weeks in February and March 2012 my husband and I volunteered with FSD in India. After our brief orientation in Jodhpur we went to the village of Chandelao, where I worked as a teacher of English in the private school, while he worked on building a website for the village fort/heritage hotel and the women's craft center. We were warmly welcomed, and our stay was really fun and rewarding. The FSD staff were supportive and helpful throughout. We feel lucky to have made good friends among the warm and colorful people of Rajasthan.
We are now about to embark on a new adventure with FSD to Salta, Argentina. We are grateful to FSD for their help with planning and preparing for our trips, finding us good accommodation and meaningful assignments, and ensuring that our experiences as retired volunteers live up to expectations.

1 Sandy56

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In January 2012, my wife and I spent 6 weeks with the FSD Procorps in Jodhpur India. We are retired professionals and FSD encouraged us to volunteer our time and experience. We could not be happier with our experience. We worked with a small NGO in a village of 1800 residents about 25 miles from the city of Jodhpur. Our experience was personally fulfilling and we participated in worthwhile projects that will have lasting benefit to the community. The local FSD staff were professional and helpful.

We are so satisfied with our FSD experience that we are volunteering with them again: this time for 6 weeks in Salta, Argentina.

1 fsdjquintana

Volunteer

Rating: 5

During the summer of 2011, I had the wonderful opportunity in traveling to Tola, Nicaragua. Juma Ventures, a non-profit organization for high school and college students that I have been a part of since 2007, partners with the FSD. This partnership allowed students, such as myself to be a part of something much larger then I, as well as many of my friends in the program could have ever dreamed. My experience in Tola showed me the beauty in simplicity and in living.

Now, in 2013, I was given the liberty to work with the FSD at a whole new capacity. I was taken on as the Programs Department Intern in San Francisco. My time here has shown me that I am making a difference, directly and indirectly. My time spent in Nicaragua is proof of that fact.

Here is where I am contributing to something much larger then I could have ever dreamed.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I worked with FSD last summer for ten weeks in Bolivia in the field of economic development. Overall, my experience was great and I would recommend the organization to other people. Before I left, the San Francisco based staff was amazing in communicating with me about my concerns going abroad. Once I arrived, the local staff was responsive, encouraging, and helped me a lot when I got sick.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am honored to be working with Fsd interns, the guys are amazing and my Institution is greatly honored to be working with such young people. their ideas are amazing and our clients have greatly benefited from their various projects

BASHIR MUTEBI
MASAKA ELDERS SACCO LTD
MASAKA, UGANDA.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I traveled to Uganda and volunteered with a local NGO through FSD. I was with a group of 13 other students as a part of a sustainable development study abroad project. The entire FSD team in Uganda was incredibly helpful and my host family was accommodating at all times. The team made our experience truly hands on and exposed us the daily work that the Uganda people engaged in and we worked on projects that were making a real impact in the community. I was sick for a short time when I was in Uganda and my host family was incredibly nice and caring during my stay. Overall it was a wonderful experience that broadened my horizons and cultivated my interests in global sustainable development.

Board Member

Rating: 5

After a career working with companies in developing countries, I sought an opportunity to work with a US based non profit. After thorough investigation I saw that FSD results far exceeded other organizations that focused on service learning. The FSD model allows for funds earned or raised to be utilized and spent by the local organizations being served. The model also places students directly into the local community establishing a relationship that other similar non profits cannot offer. I am very proud to have been a part of FSD growth and the partnerships established with US educational institutions and the hundreds of local communities that FSD serves.

1 Michael145

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am extremely honored to be a part of FSD, whose pre-eminence in the field of international development is widely acknowledged, and embrace my new role as FSD’s Board Member. I am grateful to be in a position to tap into a network of private and public sector global relationships and research skills to help propel FSD to the next level.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was fortunate to spend this past summer in Kakamega, Kenya with the Foundation for Sustainable Development. From the beginning, they provided a lot of support, information about the program, and advice. The staff spent a lot of time ensuring that your strengths could be optimized in the community by placing you in organizations that best satisfy your interests. They had very clear expectations and a lot of experience, and I had a great experience with this NGO.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) for over a decade, helped to start their programs at 3 different sites (2 in Kenya and 1 in Tanzania) and had the opportunity to visit the 2 sites in India. Throughout I have been extremely impressed with the quality of the staff of FSD and the local community based organizations (CBOs) that they partner with. The work they do is extremely important and covers a wide range of key issues including HIV awareness, microfinance, youth development, women's empowerment, and the environment. FSD also runs a small competitive grants program for the local CBOs. As part of this process FSD volunteers work with the local CBOs to write strong proposals that are then reviewed by FSD staff to choose winners. This process helps to build the writing, planning, and organizational skills of these CBOs. Thus, the benefits provided go far beyond the dollars that the winners receive. In sum, I believe FSD is helping to promote the sustainability of local CBOs in developing countries and providing volunteers with a great opportunity to be part of that process.

Previous Stories
1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I joined the board of FSD because I was very impressed with the mission- to promote sustainable development in the third world through a structured and well thought through internship experience. During my fist visit to the FSD programs in Mombasa, Kenya I visited the Mwalungage Elephant Sanctuary. This sanctuary epitomizes what is great about FSD--working with local people in innovative ways to both promote the environment and develop a sustainable lifestyle. This sanctuary was created when a number of wealthy Kenyans joined together with some small farmers. The small farmers benefited because the sanctuary helped to keep the elephants off of their land--in addition, they were given some of the proceeds of the tourist trade generated by the sanctuary. And of course the elephants benefited as well. This is only one small step and Kenya will need far more larger scale enterprises to truly develop economically and become self-sufficient--but by helping to participate in projects like this one FSD volunteers learn about the development process and about how they can help better promote sustainable development in the future.

Board Member

Rating: 5

In a market flooded with low-quality "volunteer vacations," FSD is an outstanding alternative. FSD significantly advances both the community development goals of its partner organizations abroad AND education and training of the next generation of global development workers and leaders. It is a privilege to be a board member and university partner for an organization that makes real strides with American education AND sustainable development in communities around the world, co-creating and disseminating resources that enrich the field beyond just the people and communities they serve. I've personally visited four of the FSD partner communities, seen the interns and staff hard at work, and been witness to the positive changes occurring for all involved. FSD is an organization that continues to learn and deepen its approach, as the field of sustainable development evolves. It's solid now and heading in important and valuable directions.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am working with FSD since last five years. Being in development sector for over a 15 years now i think FSD is an real example of what you can say is working with grassroot community. FSD does not compramises with its original vision and mission while working with communities and have set up examples for other Non Profits here in western Rajasthan,

Donor

Rating: 5

FSD is an exemplary nonprofit when it comes to sustainable development. Many organizations design "solutions" around "problems" without even involving the community; but when FSD or any grass-root partner trained by FSD is involved in a project, you can expect long term goals and direct community participation. Which from a donor's perspective, you know your donation is being invested wisely.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.