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Forum, Here We Come!

Originally posted on the InterAction blog on 4/27/12.

When I realized a few months ago that this would be my fifth Forum as InterAction staff, I’ll admit it kind of blew my mind. It feels like only yesterday that I was starting here, just a few short weeks before Forum 2008. I had no idea what to expect then, but now it’s … well, I won’t say it’s “a breeze,” because we work our hearts out putting this show on every year, but now I at least know the challenges to expect. Continue reading


Sexy Or Not, Development Matters

Originally posted on the InterAction blog on 4/25/12.

If you’re a communications staff person for a development organization, or part of a group that does advocacy on why development is important, you know all too well how difficult it is to get your program’s message heard. Everyone wants the quick, “sexy” solution to helping the world’s poor. When you try to explain the need for a long-term strategy, or the need to take time and make sure that the project can continue long after the aid agencies have gone, and pretty soon you’re either being criticized for being too inefficient or have lost your audience completely and are left with only chirping crickets for company. Continue reading

Connecting Through Reading

Originally posted on the InterAction blog, 4/12/12.

When I was a kid, I loved stories so much that my busy parents started getting me books that came with audiotapes to entertain me while they did boring things like going to work or cooking dinner, and then they read to me and interacted with me at bedtime, after the day’s chores were done. Because of both the constant audio stories and the interactions with my parents, I learned to read younger than most of my kindergarten classmates. In high school, I’d sneak a novel anytime I could get (including when I was supposed to be doing homework), and by then I decided to fully embrace my inner word nerd, so in college I majored in English. Continue reading

Responsible giving

Originally posted on the InterAction blog, 12/5/11. 

Last Friday, I attended a great presentation for InterAction’s members’ communications directors by the Ad Council and the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) about a free online toolkit being created over the next several months on responsible giving. The Ad Council and CIDI are part of a coalition of organizations funding and coordinating the project, including InterAction.

One problem that international nonprofits know all too well is the well-intentioned but ill-informed donations that citizens try to give. Donations of necessities like clothing and water need to be shipped overseas, and face steep shipping costs, tariffs and customs fees. One example that the Ad Council gave was a statistic from USAID that the amount of water you could buy for $500 locally in poorer countries would not only cost about $50,000 in the U.S., but it would also incur between $150,000-$700,000 in additional costs after shipping and customs, depending on where it’s sent. Continue reading

Paying it Forward on Thanksgiving

Originally posted on the InterAction blog, 11/23/11.

As Americans prepare for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving holiday, many of us are counting the things that make us thankful. This year, why not find some way of paying it forward? During these economic times, finding the money to make donations can be difficult, but one alternative to a financial donation is to look for programs like the Million Moms Challenge. Continue reading

Famine is manmade. So is resilience.

Originally posted on the InterAction blog, 10/14/11.

Drought is natural. Famine is manmade.

This is the resounding lesson of today’s crisis in the Horn of Africa, and one that the world must learn. The documentary ViewChange: Africa’s Last Famine by Oxfam America and Link TV’s brings that lesson home, exploring ways for poor people to increase their food security while educating viewers on why famine is caused by more than drought. Continue reading

Horn of Africa Aid Map: Mapping Disaster Response

Originally posted on the InterAction blog, 9/9/11.

Over the last few years, InterAction has experimented with mapping our members’ projects to promote transparency with donors and the public, and to give our members a tool to help coordinate their work and maximize their impact. Based on previous mapping projects—a pandemic preparedness map and an early version of the food security map—InterAction decided to launch NGO Aid Map to capitalize on our lessons learned. In 2010 we began taking these lessons and planning how to package them into a new kind of aid map. Continue reading

Through the lenses of babes

Originally posted on the InterAction blog, 9/2/11.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “Out of the mouths of babes.” A lot of the things that adults either ignore or talk around, kids will zero right in on and ask about outright. This made a photo essay I saw on The Guardian’s blog this week particularly intriguing. It was about a program called Fotokids, founded by former war photographer Nancy McGirr, that puts cameras in the hands of kids. Continue reading

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Originally posted on the InterAction blog, 6/30/11.

When I was a kid and adults asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” my answers varied depending on my age: A princess. A marine biologist. A teacher. A writer.

No one ever answers that question with, “A prostitute.” No one asks to be a prostitute. So why are they the ones who are always arrested and persecuted? Continue reading

Truth and consequences

Originally posted on the InterAction blog, 4/22/11.

On Earth Day this year, we should all consider a point that my friend Victoria posted on her Facebook page two weeks ago about the debate on human responsibility for global warming:

“Even if people aren’t the cause of global warming, we still need clean air, clean water, and enough natural habitat for biodiversity, so we still need to plant trees, reduce waste, and conserve resources.” Continue reading