Review: NetAid.org

NetAid.org represents a “growing network of people and organizations committed to ending extreme poverty”. They focus on bringing people together in a way that helps them achieve the United Nation’s goal of cutting poverty in half by 2015 by raising awareness and offering people concrete ways to take action.

NetAid.org represents the true spirit of networking by building direct connections of people to projects and people to organizations where there is someone with a need and someone who wants to help satisfy that need.

This beauty of this is evident in their program, NetAid Online Volunteering, run jointly by NetAid and UN Volunteers. Through NetAid.org, thousands of volunteers have partnered with organizations to address issues around the world in developing countries. Volunteers from all around the world are writing articles, writing grant applications, conducting research, translating documents, creating websites, monitoring discussion groups, managing email lists, and sending group emails.

“We pride ourselves in our ability to take a complicated weighty issue and present it in such a way that people can understand and relate”, says Joy Portella, Director of Communications for NetAid.org. “People tend to think there’s nothing they can do and we like to set up interesting things that people in developed worlds can do for people in the undeveloped world.”

“We also believe in getting information to people quickly so that contributors know where there money is going and so that they feel like part of the community. Their monthly newsletter goes out to approximately 35,000 subscribers and is also stored on the website. With their desire to keep creating a community experience, they send out quizzes, petitions, trade links with other sites and have a “Tell a Friend” option at the bottom of their site.

Success stories listed on their website include:

  • Canada volunteer helps to develop web site of an African organization that helps people with disabilities.
  • A volunteer in Turkey helped to add 1,150 publications to the library on HIV/AIDS run by Mgbala Agwa Youth Forum in Nigeria.
  • United States volunteer established the first regional office of World Computer Exchange in California. This Boston based organization was looking for someone to help establish the organization in San Francisco.
  • Costa Rica volunteer finds sponsors to establish a library for children with disabilities and their parents Uganda. She sent hundreds of emails out to librarians, advocates, disability specialists, publishers and doctors, asking for information resources, brochures and children’s books.
  • A volunteer in Nicaragua is technical advisor on IT/web problems for the Nile Basin Society in Canada.

Ten virtual volunteers are honored every year with their photos and stories posted online and kept in archives. Volunteers get to know and appreciate each other even though they are in different countries, working on different projects and never meet in person.