Turning Nonprofit Beneficiaries into Donors

This holiday giving season, I’d like to encourage you to give your neighbor half the cash in your savings account.

Sounds absurd, right?

Imagine you’re among the world’s poorest: you’ve never had enough for your family, let alone to spare. But today, for the first time, you will become a giver, and you will give your neighbor roughly half your wealth.

Can you even fathom what that might feel like?

I have witnessed this happen, and it’s one of the most powerful things I have ever seen.

A Great Gift: Community Fortitude in the Face of Disaster

When I first sat down to write this piece, Typhoon Haiyan was bearing down on the Philippines, where I live and serve as the director of the disaster response office of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). At the time Haiyan was a category-2 storm, it has since been declared one of the most powerful typhoons ever recorded and the UN has issued a level-3 emergency.

In Recognition of World Toilet Day

The global health and development editorial calendar is filled with awareness days. World Water Day, World Malaria Day and World Aids Day usually come to mind immediately. But today’s awareness day is one that often brings a chuckle or a snigger whenever it comes up in conversation.

Extreme Resilience: Finding Hope in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, there are extremists everywhere – but not the kind you think: I mean people living in extreme poverty, extreme pain, extreme despair. At the same time, there is extreme resilience and extreme hopefulness. Resilient is how I describe a country whose people have survived decades of warfare and instability and have always managed to prevail.

Small Acts of Kindness When Everything Was Lost to War

It is olive season here in Lebanon.

In Akkar, the northernmost district in Lebanon, many of the olive orchards have been passed down from generation to generation. Fueled by September and October rains, the window for olive-picking runs from mid-October to December, a time when farmers dot the hillsides, picking and shaking olives from silvery branches.

Plan Community Development Worker Captures Typhoon Haiyan on Video

Super Typhoon Haiyan has been described as "tsunami-like," with storm surges that engulfed coastal communities in seconds. An eyewitness video released over the weekend and picked up by national media shows how powerful – and terrifying – the storm was when it struck the Philippines on November 8.

The video was shot by Nickson Gensis, a community development worker for Plan Philippines. He was sheltering with five other people on the second floor of a boarding house in Hernani, Eastern Samar, only a few hundred meters from the sea.

Foreign Aid Transparency Legislation Moves Forward, with a Few Changes

Big news for the foreign aid advocacy community: the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (S. 1271), or FATA, was passed unanimously by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on November 14.  This marks an important step for the legislation, designed to foster improved accountability and transparency in U.S. foreign assistance programs, and I hope that the full Senate and the House Foreign Affairs Committee will soon follow suit and vote on the bill.

Typhoon Haiyan: Four Questions About This Super Storm and Major Humanitarian Disaster

The images coming out of the Philippines are shocking – the scope of the devastation and the depth of the humanitarian crisis left in Typhoon Haiyan’s wake is seemingly immeasurable. As I wait in airport lounges between flights, I am glued to television reports and Twitter posts coming from cities like Tacloban, which was largely flattened by the super storm.

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