In the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis, a new form of relief organization has emerged, known as Ad Hoc Grassroots Organizations (AHGOs). In a study that explores their role in Lesvos, Greece, the Public Library of Science (PLOS) identified 41 AHGOs and interviewed 13 of them.

AHGOs are helpful at providing quick humanitarian relief. They are particularly potent when governments are not able to respond as quickly to disasters. According to the report done by PLOS, in the future, AHGOs should be recognized as new humanitarian actors.

These groups are created specifically to provide relief for a particular cause. AHGOs previously provided relief during the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. In this instance, the 13 that were contacted were formed in 2015 with the intent of assisting refugees that fled the crisis in Syria, made their way over the Mediterranean, and landed in Lesvos.

Organizations are different than nonprofit organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). After they serve their purpose they are rendered ineffectual. Their expiration date might make the notion of them seem unnecessary. How might temporary ad hoc organizations be more effective at providing relief than other pre-existing organizations?

PLOS explores this notion in its article. Because of their lack of infrastructure, AHGOs provide ordinary people who want to help by responding to disasters. Many volunteers working in Lesvos were there because they expressed a simple desire to help and were surprised that more aid had not already been sent by the United Nations and international non-governmental organizations (INGOs).

Volunteers working with AHGOs in Lesvos expressed that their lack of structure could also be negative. The volunteers tended to take the form of paramedics, nurses, and those experienced in the wilderness. Despite the skills that the volunteers brought with them, many were ill-prepared for refugee care.

However, on the positive side, AHGOs have the ability to reach surge capacity quickly. Surge capacity, in a humanitarian context, is defined as “the ability of an organization to rapidly and effectively increase its available resources in a specific geographic location.” The Humanitarian Practice Network defines surge capacity as the ability to “scale operations [people, money, and materials] up swiftly, smoothly and productively.”

Reports on standard INGOs express their inability to reach surge capacity. Therefore, the AHGO’s ability to reach surge capacity is favorable. It further demonstrates the speedy effectiveness of grassroots movements. Humanitarian aid can benefit from the buffed and nuanced structure of longstanding INGOs as well as the small-scale potency of AHGOs.

Rebeca Ilisoi

Photo: Flickr

global wa
With a conflict as large and diverse as global poverty, it can be difficult for people, particularly small or independent nonprofit organizations, to feel like they are making a legitimate difference in the lives of others around the world. Larger associations have been popping up recently that serve to unite all advocates, and one particular association is Global Washington.

Headquartered in Seattle, Global Washington works to strengthen “Washington state’s vibrant global development community and [increase] the impact of [its] members.” By using this approach, more areas of global poverty are covered and relief is provided through a number of outlets.

Global Washington connects businesses, companies and non-government organizations with opportunities to support numerous global development projects as well as to create engaging strategies that promote global welfare and focus on global development issues.

There are numerous benefits to having one association umbrella over the global development community. This “mutual friend” in Global Washington allows new connections to be made between businesses and fundraisers or philanthropist. Through Global Washington’s work, new partnerships have been formed that serve to strengthen smaller organizations in the fight against global poverty. Global Washington also allows every country around the world to be interconnected through the numerous businesses, organizations and individual philanthropists that take part in the work.

According to Global Washington, one in three jobs in Washington state is dependent on trade and global development, and each state in America holds similar statistics. Global Washington has over 300 nonprofits working internationally, serving to improve millions of lives, creating thousands of jobs and providing a sense of stability and hope for the future. Foundations such as World Vision and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have partnered with Global Washington to provide support and improve living conditions, health and sanitation and education.

Global Washington is ushering in a new wave of global poverty reduction by creating one association that can adopt numerous organizations, businesses and individuals. Unifying all actions against global poverty increases the rates and effects of poverty reduction. With so many vast challenges and struggles to battle, strong unity among dedicated advocates is crucial to accomplish the work of reducing poverty’s harshest realities. Global Washington is setting the bar for future businesses and organizations to work together in order to fight global poverty.

– Alaina Grote

Sources: Global Washington, Seattle Foundation
Photo: Google Plus

Success is not an individual accomplishment. We have all heard the old saying, “There is strength in numbers.”

A common demonstration of this concept is the pencil activity, where your teacher asks you to hold a pencil and break it in half. Easy. The teacher then ties together a bunch of pencils and asks you to break those in half. Not easy.

If you look at the most successful nonprofits today, you will see that they operate on the same principle. Rather than focusing on process alone, they focus on impact. According to Stanford Social Intervention Review, high-impact nonprofits are able to build social movements by working “with and through organizations and individuals outside themselves to create more impact than they ever could have achieved alone.”

The six essential practices found in high-impact nonprofits:

1. Service and advocacy
2. Using markets to their advantage
3. Building and sustaining communities of supporters
4. Building other nonprofit allies and networks
5. Mastering the art of adaptation
6. Sharing leadership

Organizational impact has traditionally been measured through annual analysis of leadership, programs, marketing and fundraising strategies. Internal auditing is an important part of assessment; however, impact today is measured based on how well a nonprofit is able to mobilize all sectors of society to be a force for good.

The idea behind working in tandem with other sectors of society is so that critical nonprofit work does not exist merely to assist those in need, but to eradicate problems by attacking them at their root.

Working together with government agencies, businesses and other key sectors allows nonprofits to develop a holistic approach to get to the root of a problem. Additionally, some of the highest impact nonprofits have recognized that “tapping into the power of self-interest and the laws of economics is far more effective than appealing to pure altruism.”

Another key function of a high-impact organization is the ability to evolve and adapt. Mastering the art of adaptation requires a nonprofit to “evolve its programs and operations as it learns from stakeholders, from its assessment of impact, and from new knowledge in its field.”

Impact assessment is important for the millions of people that nonprofits exist to fight for, because the ultimate goal is not just to alleviate a problem, but to eradicate it completely.

– Rifk Ebeid

Sources: Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fidelty Charity, 501 Connect
Photo: Pinterest

For many people the nonprofit sector, also known as the “third sector,” can offer an exciting and rewarding career. With the exception of where the funding comes from, nonprofit organizations often are run very similarly to for-profit organizations. They also have to adhere to the same policies and may even hire similarly qualified people. This article will provide an overview of the types of jobs available in the nonprofit sector as well as some of the things to consider when looking for a non-profit job.


The development department is one of the largest and highest paying job categories in the nonprofit sector. Development professionals work on gathering the resources that fund the programs and initiatives run by the organization. These jobs are needed in order for the organization to stay alive thus affording the position to pay well and stay in the position of not likely to be cut. Jobs in development also tend to be less competitive than jobs in other departments. Such jobs here can include:

– Director of Development
– Fundraiser
– Proposal Writer
– Communication Professional


Being part of the program department is exciting and rewarding, especially since those who work in this department get to put their organization’s mission into action. These are the people who will be developing and implementing disaster relief plans in developing countries, or providing services to people with mental health challenges. Unfortunately program careers are very competitive and have a high burn out. These jobs include:

– Program Manager
– Program Assistant
– Policy Analyst
– Technical Advisor


Just like private sector companies, nonprofit sectors also need an administrative team to help organizations keep on their feet and run smoothly. These jobs are also good stepping-stones into programs careers or management level jobs.

– Human Resources
– Office Manager
– Receptionist

Important Things to Consider About Careers in the Nonprofit Sector

1. You’ll have to wear many hats – Nonprofits don’t always have the funds to hire a large staff, this means you may have to be the graphic designer, the social media coordinator and the grant writer.

2. You need to be passionate about the cause – Employers aren’t just looking for talented qualified workers, they are also looking for people who are passionate about the cause and will work hard to achieve the organization’s goals.

3. You’ll probably make less money – Nonprofits have less resources, this means your office may be less plush and your salary smaller.

4. Volunteer first – It’s important to volunteer or intern at a nonprofit to see if you like the culture and are actually passionate about the job. This also proves your commitment to an employer and can open up job opportunities.

5. Nonprofits are run like any other business – Managing finances and being cost effective are just as important to nonprofits as they are to businesses.

– Elizabeth Brown

Sources: Miami University, US News, Forbes
Gif: Borgen Project

As of Tuesday, fiscal year 2014 bills have now been proposed from the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. These bills decide how much is allocated to the International Affairs Budget, which funds overseas development and diplomacy programs. Among these programs are many United Nations programs, USAID, international development banks, and the Overseas Contingency Operations.

These programs, which have an enormous impact on global and domestic wellbeing, make up a mere 1% of the total United States federal budget. The House Appropriations Committee, which released its fiscal year bill on May 17th, cut $10 billion from the already minimal amounts, which have fallen 4% since 2012.

This cut came as an enormous shock to the international development community. “These cuts represent a potential retreat of U.S. leadership in the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease,” says ONE.org CEO Tom Hart.

While the general focus of the fiscal year 2014 conversation is on belt-tightening and domestic improvements, it must not be forgotten that the 1% of the budget going towards international development has an immeasurable impact on the lives of millions worldwide while also benefiting the economy and national security of the United States. “We urge [the House] to keep in mind the disproportionate effect these cuts will have on global stability and U.S. leadership,” says Hart.

The recent release of the Senate Appropriations Committee bill comes closer to following Hart’s recommendations. The Senate committee allocates $52.2 billion for the International Affairs budget, in comparison to the House’s proposed $41.9 billion. This closely resembles the FY 2013 in total budget amounts, but with slight shifts in fund direction.

In his request for the FY 2014 budget, President Obama called for expansions in international peacekeeping activities, food aid, USAID, and global health as well as calling for greater efforts toward international political stability, post-Arab Spring democratic transitions, empowerment of girls and women, and expanding the US presence in Asia. Alongside these expansions, the President called for a downsizing in frontline assistance to the Middle East, scaling back on USAID in 11 countries, and reducing the number of focus nations under the Feed the Future and Global Health programs.

The gap between these two proposed budgets is enormous, and will require much deliberation come fall as the FY 2014 budget is finalized and enacted. The House budget offers $0 to the UN Development Program, UN Women, UN Population, the Strategic Climate Fund, Clean Technology Fund, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Global Agriculture and Food Security Fund, and the Asian & African Development banks. Losing these programs could mean thousands of women without education, a dangerously increased carbon footprint, and millions worldwide going without food and clean water.

These conditions make these countries more susceptible to violence and political instability, which pose a security risk to the United States. In addition to fostering climates of instability, pulling funding from development organizations limits the economic potential of developing nations as potential consumers of US exports. Although an initial money-saver, the $10 billion in question between the House and Senate budgets offers enormous payoffs in the long run for the United States and the developing world.

The Borgen Project urges support for the Senate Levels of the Foreign Affairs Budget, which allocates greater funding to Foreign Aid and Development Programs, and urges people to call their congressional leaders in support for the Senate Levels of the Foreign Affairs Budget.

– Melanie Mazza
Sources: USGLC, ONE, White House
Photo: Global Solutions