Giving is beneficial
Many parents tell their children, especially around the holidays, that “giving is better than getting.” This sentiment is not just a way for parents to teach their children good morals, however. There is actual science behind it. Giving is beneficial to the giver as well as the recipient.

With the help of fMRI technology, researchers have found that when people donate to what they consider worthy causes, the areas of their brains responsible for craving satisfaction and pleasure rewards lights up. This explains the “warm glow” many people experience after giving to charity. When people make donations, their brains react in much the same way as when they are having sex or eating chocolate.

Another way to get that “warm glow” is by volunteering. In the 2010 “Do Good Live Well Survey” of 4,500 American adults, 41 percent of participants stated that they volunteered an average of 100 hours per year. On average, the participants who volunteered felt less stressed, healthier and happier.

This positive feeling may come from a few interlinked factors: social connectivity, sense of accomplishment and improving personal expertise. People who volunteer are able to create social bonds with other volunteers and with the people they are helping as they work toward a common goal. Meanwhile, they gain a sense of accomplishment as they witness the change they are making in the lives of others. On top of that, volunteers also often get to learn new skills.

Nearly 3 billion people worldwide live on less than $3 a day, while more than 1.3 billion live in on less than $1.25, in destitution. Despite their lack of wealth, many impoverished people still take part in acts of giving. Statistically, poor people give a greater percentage of their money to charity than do wealthy people.

In Papua New Guinea, where nearly 40 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day, social giving is a norm. In Kiribati, there is no word for “poverty,” but there is rampant sharing between neighbors and relatives. People in these places give, even though they themselves do not have much. They may give in part due to feelings of societal obligation, but their generosity doubtless has something to do with the joy they experience by helping one another.

A great way to give this holiday season is by donating to people in need. Charities working to reduce global poverty and improve people’s lives include the United Nations Children’s Fund, Kids in Distressed Situations, VillageReach, InterAction and more. You can also donate to The Borgen Project to help promote U.S. foreign aid.

Kayla Provencher

Photo: Flickr

Big Data matters. It has proven to be accurate in realizing trends, developing strategies, and noticing rising phenomena. It is a tool being used more frequently with each passing year that helps governments, scientists, educators, academics, and businesses operate in the most efficient ways possible.

Statistics and massive data are no longer being used solely by political pollsters and economists. Now, even philanthropy and global aid are reaping the benefits of big data. One example of this relatively new use of big data is the NGO Aid Map, which complies massive amounts of volunteer data into a useful and informative tool.

The NGO Aid Map is an interactive map designed by global aid advocacy group InterAction. The map shows a 2D image of Earth, akin to Google Maps, and features a series of numbered orange circles corresponding to individual countries. The number in the circle represents the number of Non-Governmental Organizations currently active in its respective nation.

Circles vary by size: the larger, the more projects. Users can click on the country that they are interested in. Upon clicking, the map zooms in to frame the specific country and then breaks the initial circle into smaller parts separated by city, town or region.

Clicking on a city or region circle brings users to a list of the ongoing projects in that area, each with an external link, a listing of the NGO conducting the project, and a short description of its mission.

The Aid Map is designed for optimal usability. Users can select from a number of filters to show where aid is needed most based on a series of metrics. These include poverty rate, malnutrition prevalence, agricultural share of GDP, and gross aid income (Official Development Assistance).

Clicking on any one filter will highlight countries based on their score. It is clear based on color contrasts which countries need more assistance in a given area. Some countries rank severely on multiple metrics.

Data for the map is compiled by volunteers on the ground who send their reports back to InterAction. The larger organization then compiles all that data and puts it into the map, where large amounts of numbers tell large amounts of stories. Users can empirically see the missions listed by “sectors.”

For example, InterAction reports that there are 1,679 medical missions, and 1,220 education projects ongoing. It also uses the data to list countries with the most, and alternatively least, amount of projects.

The map is a powerful tool that enables users to gain valuable insight into exactly what is being done around the globe to combat famine, poverty, and disease. InterAction, along with many others, hope that numbers and data will help make aid more efficient and effective in the near future.

Joe Kitaj

Sources: NGO Aid Map, Interaction
Photo: Flickr

InterAction is a coalition of U.S.-based international non-governmental organizations dedicated to improving the lives of the world’s poor and most vulnerable. It has 190 members working in every developing country to expand opportunities and support gender equality in the areas of health care, education, agriculture and small business, among others.

Their membership is wide and inclusive, including faith-based groups, secular groups, advocacy-focused groups, or groups focused on public education and other media education related to international issues. While different, all work toward common goals.

All members of InterAction share a set of common values that drive their work: to “foster economic and social development, provide relief to those affected by disaster and war, assist refugees and internally displaced persons, advance human rights, support gender equity, protect the environment, address population concerns, and press for more equitable, just and effective public policies.”

In 2013, in alliance with FedEx, InterAction launched “The FedEx Award for Innovations in Disaster Preparedness,” aimed at promoting and sharing ideas about preparedness and emergency relief. The award will recognize innovative strategy in preparing for vulnerabilities and dealing with emergency situations.
Moreover, as the largest coalition of its kind, InterAction hosts a wide array of educational and training events, development related research and disaster data all available on its website. In recent years, InterAction has published over 5000 documents with findings and policy recommendations about the successes of various development strategies in developing countries and disaster relief measures.

InterAction’s work has been sub-divided into four main categories: international development, accountability and learning, humanitarian action, and policy and advocacy. This makes its work wide-ranging, going from the goal to improve social and economic conditions for the worlds poorest, to relief activities to alleviate suffering during critical moments.

– Sahar Abi Hassan

Sources: InterAction, PreventionWeb

1,000 days
The fact remains that undernutrition is completely and indisputably preventable.

Yet this condition continues to claim the lives of 2.6 million children each year. This is more than any other disease, making malnutrition the leading cause of death among young children.

In September of 2010, U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and then-Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin, took a stand to fight this deadly disease.

The two diplomats, along with a community of global leaders, launched the 1,000 Days Partnership. This movement promotes action and investment in nutrition during the 1,000 days from the start of a woman’s pregnancy until a child’s 2nd birthday.

Why 1,000 days? Leading scientists, economists and health experts all agree that the proper nutrition in the first 1,000 days of pregnancy and the life of an infant “have a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and rise out of poverty.”

When a woman is undernourished during pregnancy, her baby has a higher risk of dying in infancy and is more likely to face lifelong cognitive and physical deficits and chronic health problems.

Once the child is born, the first two years are critical to their chance at a healthy and productive life. Undernutrition weakens the immune system, and children not receiving nutritious foods are more susceptible to dying from common illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria.

According to The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a nutrient deficiency is not only dangerous to early childhood health, but also to the long-term success of a child. Lower levels of educational attainment, reduced productivity later in life and lower lifetime earnings are all consequences of a lack of early-nutrition.

In a recent release, USAID reports that “undernutition robs the developing world of critical human capital and capacity, and undermines other development investments in health, education and economic growth.”

According to the 1,000 Days movement, the answer to improving nutrition lies in three strategic, affordable, cost-effect solutions: “ensuring that mothers and young children get the necessary vitamins and minerals they need; promoting good nutrition practices, including breastfeeding and appropriate healthy foods for infants; and treating malnourished children with special, therapeutic foods.”

Evidence shows that providing the proper nutrition to a mother and her newborn has extensive benefits. These advantages include significantly reducing the burden of diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS, increasing a country’s GDP by at least 2-3 percent annually, and, most importantly, saving more than 1 million lives each year.

Since it was created in 2010, over 80 international relief and development organizations have partnered with the 1,000 Movement. Along with its efforts to encourage new actors to invest in maternal and child nutrition, 1,000 Days also encourages support for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement. The two organizations work in tandem at a U.S.-based hub formed in June 2011 by InterAction, a coalition of U.S.-based international relief and development organizations and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in collaboration with the U.S Department of State.

1,000 Days founder, Hillary Clinton, appropriately asserted, “Improving nutrition for mothers and children is one of the most cost-effective and impactful tools we have for poverty alleviation and sustainable development.”

— Grace Flaherty

Sources: Daily Times NG, 1,000 Days
Photo: Care

On October 17, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was celebrated in honor of the goal to end world poverty by 2030. Declared by the UN General Assembly, this annual day serves as a reminder to promote the need to end poverty and destitution in all countries, specifically the developing nations.

In celebration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Interaction, the NGO alliance, highlighted global programs that are already making an impact. One of these programs, A World Vision program in Zambia, has made health care, education, and psycho-social support accessible for more than a quarter million children. The program has also trained nearly 40,000 volunteers to assist people living with HIV across the country. It is programs like these, indeed, that are helping us reach our goal.

In hope to get to zero percent by our lifetime, NGOs, like Interaction, are essential parts of the solution. “We cannot let over a billion people suffer in extreme poverty when we have the tools and the research to change their lives for the better. … We can do better. We have to do better,” said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.

So far, the world has made significant progress in working toward this goal. While it is bold, it is undoubtedly achievable. Already, extreme poverty rates are half of what they were two decades ago. In 1990, nearly one in two people in the developing world lived in “extreme poverty” or on less than $1.25 a day. Today, this number is about one in five. Because of the help of many institutions, government and nongovernment organizations alike, we have been able to make immense developments. Still, it is not enough. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty recognizes these groups that have made all the difference through these years and even further, motivates people to help take those next few steps forward.

– Sonia Aviv

Sources: UN, Global Dimension, Devex
Photo: Times Square

InterAction is an alliance of 180 U.S.-based international organizations, predominantly NGOs, which work around the world to aid the poor. InterAction brings these organizations together to capitalize on their collective resources, mobilize members, and serve as the premiere thought leader in the NGO community. InterAction’s mission is to eliminate extreme poverty, uphold human rights, safeguard a sustainable planet, and ensure human dignity for poor and vulnerable populations.

InterAction is the largest coalition of NGOs in the United States. Through collaboration and transparency, InterAction partners support one another. According to Samuel Worthington, president and CEO of InterAction, “As development shifts toward multi-stakeholder partnerships, U.S. international NGOs are an important ally to reduce suffering and combat global poverty. The many participants in development aid bring different perspectives to the table and use varying means to achieve their goals. Many of these approaches complement each other; but to ensure efficient and flexible development programs, governments, NGOs, and the private sector must build effective partnerships.” In addition, InterAction holds their partners accountable, not only to donors, but also to the general public. Upon membership with InterAction, partner organization are held to high standards of accountability and compliance with international aid effectiveness.

InterAction’s programs focus on international development, accountability, humanitarian action, and policy and action.

International Development: Programs related to international development are intended to uphold the standards of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aid effectiveness principles. Such programs require participation from the private sector, governments, and citizens. One program, Post-2015, has studied the effectiveness of the MDGs and offered suggestions to the United Nations as to what should be done after 2015 to address extreme poverty.

Accountability & Learning: Programs related to Accountability and Learning empower citizens, governments and NGOs with up-to-date data related to program effectiveness and scope. InterAction believes that, by empowering citizens and NGOs with transparent and easily-accessible data, they can improve NGO programs and ultimately make them more efficient. Such programs include NGO mapping, PVO standards, and regular monitoring & evaluation.

Humanitarian Action: InterAction’s Humanitarian Action programs are guided by the principles of human dignity, neutrality, independence and impartiality. Without taking into account race, gender, ethnicity or political affiliation, humanitarian efforts can save lives and alleviate poverty. InterAction supports NGO humanitarian work by offering a framework for consultation, coordination and advocacy in such situations. In the past, InterAction partners have responded to crises on the Ivory Coast, Liberia, and the Horn of Africa. In June, InterAction pledged to invest $750 million in nutrition programs over the next five years. The program focuses on the critical first 1,000 days of a child’s life in which they are most vulnerable from malnutrition. InterAction estimates that for every dollar invested, $138 will be generated from improved health and increased productivity.

Policy & Advocacy: In addition, InterAction supports the policy and advocacy efforts of their partner NGOs by encouraging substantial US government investment in humanitarian aid. InterAction’s lobbyists and policy experts advocate for Budget and Appropriations, Foreign Assistance Reform, Development Policy and G8/G20. One such campaign, known as Not Just Numbers, seeks to counter the recent budget cuts to the State, Foreign Operations (SFOPs) bill. The bill, which was recently unveiled in the House of Representatives, cuts Foreign Aid by 15% from 40.1% to only 34.1%. The social media campaign, which can be found at #NotJustNumbers, seeks to get the Senate foreign aid fund allocation higher than it has been proposed in the House.

– Kelsey Ziomek

Sources: InterAction

These top 10 global poverty blogs are some of the best of the best in addressing the issues, solutions, and concerns surrounding the global battle against extreme poverty.

1. The Borgen Project – Works with US Congressional leaders to improve the USAID response to the global poverty crisis; advocacy to secure crucial poverty-reducing legislation, mobilization and awareness campaigns making poverty a political priority. The blog addresses the impact of poverty from every angle, and highlights innovative and dynamic development successes.

2. The Impatient Optimist – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation blog features the work of the foundation’s grantees, partners, leadership, and staff, as well as other bloggers, to provide commentary and insight on the issues of poverty. Stories and updates from the people working every day to help alleviate poverty, help promote health, and to help every student in the United States realize his or her full potential through education.

3. The Huffington Post – The highly respected news agency developed their Impact blog with reputable contributors from around the world, renowned journalists, stories about celebrities and average people, domestic and global poverty concerns and innovations, and good-news-stories. Type in the search word “poverty” and find a vast archive of videos and articles covering poverty concerns.

4. The World Bank – “Working for a world free of poverty,” this blog is a forum for discussing development issues and provides open access to WB data. Open access to data is a key part of the WB’s commitment to sharing knowledge to improve people’s lives.  The Open Data Initiative believes that “statistics tell the story of people in developing countries, and can play an important part in helping to overcome poverty” – WB’s President, Robert Zoellick.

5. The United Nations Development Programme – Details the UNDP’s 6,000+ development projects and 8,000 outputs in 177 countries and territories worldwide; comprehensive, qualitative and timely information about how aid flows and its results. The blog is also part of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) to which UNDP is a signatory, advocating voluntary transparency aimed at making information about aid spending easier to access, understand and use.

6. The U.S. Department of State – Mission: to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community. offers up to the minute news coverage of U.S. foreign policy information; their blog offers the opportunity for participants to discuss important foreign policy issues with senior Department officials. shows exactly what America is doing around the world to help reduce poverty and improve development.

7. InterAction – An alliance organization of more than 180 U.S. based non-governmental organizations (NGOs), working around the world. InterAction serves as a convener, thought leader and voice of their member community. Their blog represents the collective mobilization of its members in: international development, humanitarian aid, accountability and policy creation.

8. ONE – Is a global mobilization of over three million people, unifying to fight “the absurdity of extreme poverty.” Co-founder Bono is part of the group’s influential leadership team, joined by other political and humanitarian experts from around the world. Their blog aims to educate and facilitate the general public in direct action for poverty reduction, and subsequent issues resulting from poverty.

9. Oxfam America – “Working together to end poverty and injustice,” Oxfam America is a global organization working to right the wrongs of poverty, hunger, and injustice and to develop long-term solutions for social change. The international Oxfam confederation works in more than 90 countries, and their blog is a comprehensive look at all political, economic, humanitarian angles of poverty issues.

10. Business Fights Poverty – The world’s largest network of business and development professionals, NGOs and academia all focused on fighting poverty through business. Their blog highlights how business can combat poverty, providing resources, methods and tools for business and thus economic development, showing impact and opportunities.

– Mary Purcell

Photo Source: Impatient Optimist