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For Community-Driven Global Development

FSD In the News: Interview with Executive Director, Lisa Kuhn

In a recent interview with Oppenheim Media Writer, a premier video channel that broadcasts the work of nonprofit organizations and its leaders, Lisa Kuhn, the Executive Director of Foundation for Sustainable Development,  reveals what it really means to be a sustainable, community-directed organization that runs on the support of volunteers and small-scale grants. In Oakland, California, the Foundation for Sustainable Development works side by side with grass-root organizations located in six regions around the world in developing sustainable initiatives to meet their pressing needs.

FSD conceptualizes their projects by utilizing ideas and resources readily accessible within the local environments that they will be implemented in. In the article, Lisa references one of FSD’s projects that follows this model which took place in Uganda, where the idea for “seed banks”, or safe storage rooms that maintain high-quality seeds, arose out of collaboration between a group of local farmers, FSD volunteers, and a $2000 grant, thus creating a viable solution to crop failure. According to Kuhn, “These types of projects tend to be very sustainable because most of what is needed to make [those projects] happen exists locally. Donors or volunteers are just providing that extra ‘spark’ or the initial seed capital to make it happen”.

To kickstart these locally-voiced initiatives abroad, FSD relies on the foundational support of volunteers looking to channel their field expertise into aiding communities in need all around the world. To do so, volunteers are thoroughly trained by FSD staff; ultimately learning how to support communities in the process of their development while engaging in deep self-reflection to ensure that their needs are being properly addressed.

Not only do volunteers provide structural support for FSD by providing field work and 60% to 80% of the organization’s seed grant money through program fees, but so do donors that philanthropically participate in the FSD’s Giving Circles program. Donors can use this platform to review various project proposals, and conjointly decide where to direct their money to, similar to a “mini foundation”, says Khun.

To find out more about how you too can get involved in supporting impactful, community-based initiatives, click here  

Visit OppenheimTV to read Lisa Kuhn’s full interview.

This article was written with contributions by Nicole LaPorte