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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

172 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.

21

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

these projects have really changed peoples lives where by they have let people learn to sustain their lives trough different ways like teaching them on how to keep and treat drinking water and this was a big problem in our community and after this project was launched by the FSD intern, very many people were saved from suffering from the water bone diseases. We are really greatful for this work by FSD.

17

Board Member

Rating: 5

FSD provides a very important role for the NGOs in the countries where they work. FSD provides a link to best practices of other worldwide NGO's and that provides cricical imformation concerning the improvement of the economy and local environment. In Uganda, I visited seveal of the organizations being assited by FSD interns and saw first hand the improvement that the small changes had made in the lives of the local families. From the introduction of new crops for more cash flow and better use of the land. To the construction of a nursery at a high school for teenage mothers, FSD was helping the local NGO's improve the quality of life for the population.

22

Volunteer

Rating: 5

offers environ internship programs in 6 countries that stress sustainability, interns encouraged to find alternatives to bottled water, we boiled water, used filters, aqua tabs to cut down on bottles, does not fund animal husbandry projects nor other project that might negatively impact environ

20

Volunteer

Rating: 3

I have never participated in an intern abroad program, but as one of my assignments within the SF office, I have read a lot about what kinds of environmental projects FSD's NGOs carry out in the field. Things from eco-tourism to raise environmental awareness, and garden planting and environmental education for grade school kids, to sustainable methods in agriculture and improved resource management for local farmers. These projects, if carried out well, I believe would be a huge benefit to those community members and to future generations of those communities. Although I cannot say first-hand that the environmental programs were successfully executed and sustainable, I believe that FSD's support of these programs is at least a first step to making a difference. Though, I can 100% say for certain that the FSD headquarters in San Francisco recycles and composts everything! Working at the FSD San Francisco office has given me a huge insight to the workings of small, growing nonprofits. The staff works hectically and is constantly, collaboratively multi-tasking to churn out and improve the programs it offers. During my time there, it was amazing to see that a staff of less than 10 in the main office worked endlessly in an effort to maintain communication at a personal level with people interested in FSD programs and with FSD participants before their programs began. The passion and ideals of the staff are what kept me motivated in this nonprofit and what made me keep coming back to do my best work.

21

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FSD allows individuals to engage in hands on work with sustainable development in other countries. Through FSD I went to Kenya and worked with KOMAZA (komaza.org), an amazing organization that uses sustainable agro-forestry to improve the standard of living in impoverish communities. Because the climate in Kenya is arid and rainfall is undependable, KOMAZA uses a species of Eucalyptus which grows without much water, providing farmers with a dependable source of income. KOMAZA provides farmers with the inputs on credit and training on each step of the process, allowing the farmers to learn the skills which will increase their standard of living. While I was with KOMAZA, I worked to create, edit, and test health and economic baseline surveys to evaluate the farmers' quality of life. These surveys were vital to the organization in order to ensure that we were achieving our objectives. My experience opened my eyes to the world of sustainable development. It taught me the importance of capacity building and ensuring that you are constantly empowering others and the organization to function without you. It also showed me the innovative ways that organizations can use natural resources to improve individuals' quality of life. My time with FSD was really a life-changing experience. I continue to use what I have learned on a daily basis, ensuring that I follow the same sustainable principles with the organizations I work with at home.

22

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with FSD, I was able to live and work in Masaka, Uganda for 9 weeks. I worked with Vi Agroforestry, a sustainable agriculture organization, which enabled me to witness local approaches to sustainable agriculture. My experience in Uganda changed the way I think about development and made me realize the importance of grassroots approaches and stakeholder participation. I would recommend this program to anyone in the least bit interested in international development--I learned more from my co-workers and host family than I ever would have in school.

21

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After graduation, I was stuck with the “world is your oyster” mindset, but I didn’t know how to take advantage of it. I looked into many different opportunities, one idea I had was traveling around Latin America making my way from one development organization to the next as a volunteer until I felt I had “found” what I was looking for. I also looked into the Peace Corp, but it seemed as though the Peace Corp can be hit or miss with its placement, and the two-year commitment was a little too daunting. So after much research I discovered the Foundation for Sustainable Development, it gave me the structure I needed, the education I wanted, and the experience I hoped for. FSD is an organization that has found the necessary, yet difficult, balance between foreign support and community empowerment. They work with a model that ensures the education of its volunteers, interns, and host organizations so that all understand the design and power of sustainable projects. Volunteering with FSD has given me the opportunity to gain a new perspective on international development work, and it has inspired to continue my journey into the world of development work.

22

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Working with FSD, first as an intern in Peru and now as a volunteer coordinator in Nicaragua, has shaped my life greatly, increasing my passion for grassroots development, shaping my views of sustainability, and helping me understand my role within an international community. I have also seen this experience shape the lives of my interns: many of them now study development, are doing development work abroad, and are leading awareness efforts in their own communities; many of them are also returning to their internship country to preserve the meaningful relationships they were able to develop during their time with FSD and help their host organizations push themselves even further. More importantly, however, is that FSD, through its positive and effective approach to development work, has managed to change lives, attitudes, perspectives, and daily realities of the people in the countries it collaborates with. The long-lasting change that has been left behind in these communities as a product of this collaboration can be observed through a diversity of ways. Right now I can think of one particular example in the community of Chaguitillo, Matagalpa (Nicaragua). As a small rural community, Chaguitillo's economy is dependent on agriculture, specifically on coffee production. The community's need for environmental preservation led them to work with two FSD interns for a period of 10 weeks to develop a project that would counter the intense deforestation taking place in the community in large part to sustain the typical wood burning stoves. With the help of FSD interns, Chaguitillo was able to develop coffee shell burning stoves to replace the wood burning ones. Over 150 families now use these new stoves for their daily cooking. The project managed to bring about an increase to the household income of many families (as coffee shells are free and wood was not); it also improved the health conditions of the houses - these new ovens do not produce as much smoke as the wood burning ones; and it was also able to reduce the strong deforestation that resulted from this dependency on wood. Now, FSD's current intern in Chaguitillo is working on using the environmental resources available (mainly related to eco-tourism possibilities) to bring about economic development - leading efforts on reforestation, awareness of natural resources, development of greenhouses, water preservation, and general environmental conservation to maximize the potential of the community to use its resources to bring about its own social and economic development. This project was actually designed by the community itself. This collaboration (and its resulting outcomes) between our interns and the Chaguitillo community, is a prime example of the effectiveness of FSD's approach to sustainable change. With each intern, FSD manages to work with communities to help them get one step closer to their development goals while also encouraging the organizations' independence and self-empowerment.

22

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Fantastic organization that truly does great work by enabling others to do their best where they are most needed, when they are most needed.

22

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The current global recession serves as a reminder of how interconnected we all are. FSD helps developing countries in the most positive way, by teaching citizens to help themselves. The organization provides students an opportunity to make a meaningful difference and experiences that will help shape their careers.

19

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FSD is an incredible nonprofit organization that yields a solid opportunity for individuals to volunteer and learn across the world. Not only does it offer a variety of choices for learning experiences but it offers a multitude of opportunities to give back to communities and the world. The staff were helpful and incredibly knowledgeable and I felt like a part of the team from day 1. I have referred many friends and even my sister to FSD. This is a solid organization that is very deserving of recognition for its excellence!

21

Volunteer

Rating: 4

This is a great organization who I would recommend to anyone who wants to make a sustainable impact on a community in need. Volunteers are able to fully immerse themselves in the culture and learn both the upsides and downsides on working for an NGO.

22

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

i would like write about fsd ,is one of great mission in world.so fsd should do some greate work.people also expecting same.and some verity works.

27

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an amazing experience last summer as in intern in Uganda through FSD. My integration with my host community was well balanced by the support FSD had available to me during my time there. The FSD grant program available to interns was extremely helpful in allowing me to complete a project with my host organization -- improving sustainable agriculture training sessions for a local farmer's group. FSD's focus on creating sustainable projects was evident, and through periodic workshops with FSD, I was able to write a grant on behalf of my host organization.

27

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FSD is very well-established organisation with a noble vision offering exciting internships to students. It is an excellent gateway for people who want to contribute to humanity through a range of organised and reliable programs. I trust their services and would definitely recommend it!

28

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FSD has been a great model for our organization. We have learned a great deal from them about sustainability, and collaboration within the developing world. We have valued the opportunities we have shared to contribute towards building capacity in communities. FSD has been our fiscal sponsor for 6 years. Their support has been invaluable!

23

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization is one of the best. They work so hard to bring sustainable solutions to those who need it the most.

16

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FSD is a great organization that really supports sustainable change through partnering young men and women who want to be involved in development work with organizations in countries around the world. Unlike other organizations, FSD really puts an emphasis on working WITH people from the countries that interns are sent, as opposed to starting their own projects that are not connected the community. Much of the work FSD does is connected to the environment, and I know interns who have done work from helping build more sustainable water systems in local communities to getting funding to build greenhouses. FSD is very deserving of this award, and they are a great organization.

23

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I know a number of people who have volunteered or interned with FSD and they all describe wonderful experiences. FSD works with grassroots and community-based organizations each country in which they work and contributes to vibrant, bottom-up, community-focused development.

26

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I Actually waited on this group of people at my restaurant. The crowd was young and vibrate. Everyone seemed to be very excited about the work that they were doing and the group also seemed to have a very healthy dynamic. They answered my questions that i had about their internationally policies of work. I was very pleased with the consciousness they had about working with the communities instead of trying to implement american views on developing communities around the world. All the people were friendly and i would have to say it was a plus that their business card was on recycled paper! that makes me happy to know that their consciousness is representable in all parts of their business.

29

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I am in complete agreement with the mission of FSD, looking for sustainable solutions to community issues based on involved and indepth local needs assesments. This however is a very hard mission to accomplish in the small time frame that FSD allows for its volunteers. You cannot sucessfully create and carry though a sucessful needs assesment and sustainable project in two months (when you enter as an untrained intern). Also the organization, while supporting projects that are locally based and based on the COMMUNITIES needs, is very centralized as an organization not allowing flexability in the local chapters, not acknowledging that like local communities, different countries are different and you can´t stick to the same formula for all of them. The local teams need to have more flexability, or the organization itself does not adhere to its own mission. Over all however, I find the work that FSD VERY important and it does have a strong impact in the areas it works in. The mission and the goal are incredible, there are just a few minor flaws in the exectution which could be improved.

26

Donor

Rating: 5

FSD is a worthwhile and much needed organization that effectively brings education and support at a grassroots level to the most deserving and underdeveloped countries around the world. Instead of providing only financial support, they take a different approach and provide a dedicated and knowledgeable workforce of hands-on professionals who travel to remote locations and donate their time and talents to work alongside local residents to educate and promote projects that will bring an improved quality of life for them in the future.

20

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Incredible organization. They give great opportunities for college students to get started in the humanitarian and environmental field. They also accomplish many many practical projects to combat poverty and environmental degradation. They sponsored my budding humanitarian program until I was ready to go own on my own.I have been associated with them for 5 years.

20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The programs offered by FSD do a fantastic job of both assisting sustainable development organizations overseas and providing individuals with the ability to gain development experience while making a direct impact. FSD staff is full of excited, energetic individuals who are a pleasure to work with. My experience with FSD was a vital step in my education and I appreciate the all that it taught me.

19

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as a microfinance and livelihoods intern with an NGO in Udaipur, India through FSD. Unlike other organizations, FSD's whole approach from recruitment to placement and on-going training was extremely involved. The organization has evolved organically and its core beliefs of sustainable development keep its operations true to its cause, heavily involving the in-country nationals as partners in their work. My program in India was extremely immersive and very expansive in the range of learning and 'doing' opportunities given to me. Their standing as a well-respected NGO in the field allows the partner organizations to form meaningful work and cultural relationships for their interns.

20

Volunteer

Rating: 4

All in all this was an amazing program and provided me with an incredible experience. There were some issues with my placement but FSD handled them well and had excellent staff in country to provide assistance.

20

Board Member

Rating: 5

FSD works around the world with local community-based organizations to find solutions to some of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time. In addition to donating financial resources and human resources, FSD has specifically supported projects that include organic agriculture, sustainable water management, reforestation, biodiversity, renewable energy, as well as environmental education and advocacy in the local communities.

25

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FSD puts all of its energy toward making sure that its interns have a positive experience in the field, that they have the support they need to be successful, that it is receiving constant feedback on how to improve its support and placement services, and that its local partner organizations and the communities they serve are involved and invested in the process. My experience with FSD changed my perspectives on a lot of things, and I am thankful that they are around to provide this opportunity for collaboration and growth.

23

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I can't imagine a better idea... better actuated! This is how we need more organizations to be concieved and run in the future!

25

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I intern with another non-profit that works closely with FSD and I have been tremendously impressed with the efficiency and professionalism, and more importantly their wonderful mission and work.

22

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As an new intern for FSD I am amazed by the organization and efficiency of the non-profit. The interns are all great people with very interesting backgrounds and the FSD staff is top-notch. I've had exposure to numerous non-profits and FSD easily takes the cake for its vision and quality contribution to sustainable development, particularly in the space of promoting a more green planet.

23

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I first came across FSD while doing research for a paper in a developmental economics class. What really impressed me about FSD was their ground up approach and holistic outlook. I've continued to follow their progress and even considered going abroad with their program. While I eventually decided it was not the right time for me to leave my current job, as someone who did quite a bit research, I recommend their program above most of the others I looked into.

27

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Although I don't know a ton about sustainable development, I have come to know more about the movement through family members' involvement in the industry. Although green is good at this point for the general populous, the majority of us have no clue how to really make a difference and positively impact the lives of the less fortunate worldwide. The main reason I really like FSD is that they take all their initiatives right to the communities they work in and look directly the the community members they are trying to support to get proactive themselves and work with FSD on an on-going basis to have a direct impact on changing their daily lives for the better. I also like that FSD uses a multifaceted approach to sustainable development, and by blending microfinance, health, environment, education, and human rights initiatives and education they are able to offer comprehensive change that can profoundly improve our world.

25

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love this organization. I've admired the work they do for a few years, and am incredibly impressed with them.

25

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love the philosophy of this organization and they do great work. I have some friends who have volunteered with them and there's nothing but glowing reviews.

25

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

By partnering with locals in the areas they service to find out what the high priority needs are FSD affects environmental practices in the most sustainable way - the way people will actually use. Other methods and groups mught be more sustainable per project by partnering and knowing what works on the ground and in the field means FSD projects have a better chance of uptake by local populations. Something can be 100% green and 100% sustainable in theory but 0% in practice if no one adopts it or uses it. FSD should be winning this award for using methods that work in the field.

20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As an intern at FSD's San Francisco office, I have been privileged to see a broad range of what it is that FSD does. As of late I was going through different projects that previous interns have contributed to a wide variety of partner community-based organizations. It was so inspiring to to see all the ways in which each part was making a difference no matter how big or small; and each one of those tied into the bigger picture of creating a sustainable development model.