Online Communities for International Do-Gooders

Today I discussed the importance of developing a critical consciousness (along side a compassionate consciousness) with someone in the San Francisco Bay area who is supporting a local organization in Malawi.

But how does a person actually go about this, especially someone who may be new to international assistance? As we all know, openness to learning and seeking out advice from others with more experience is vital.

As it just so happens, this week I’ve also been compiling a list of online communities related to international development for a project I’ve just started. Whether you are a seasoned professional or someone just getting involved, I hope the following list can give a glimpse of the growing variety of opportunities available online to connect with others and gain exposure to the various contexts and complexities of international assistance and foreign aid.

For the purposes of this exercise, I have defined online communities as “websites where people congregate online to discuss the topic of international assistance or to identify themselves for possible networking or information-sharing purposes.” Online communities that are locality-specific, such as the Boston Network for International Development, or institution-specific, such as the MIT International Development Network, were not included in this list.

Eventually I intend to add this list as a permanent page on my blog (such as the current links and resources on aid effectiveness and reform). This list would certainly grow with the inclusion of relief work, community organizing, or human rights networks. So please suggest these and others I may have missed in the comments. I will continue to update this list on my blog, which you can find here.

Why do we engage, whether online or off?

Because, as a wise woman once told me, “You can’t know what you don’t know.”


International Development Online Communities (general)

Aid Workers Network

Beyond Good Intentions, pioneering a major on-line dialogue about international aid effectiveness in an effort to bring about change

The Communication Initiative Network, an online space for sharing the experiences of, and building bridges between, the people and organisations engaged in or supporting communication as a fundamental strategy for economic and social development and change, an online community of individuals working for the welfare and betterment of our society (~2,800 members)

Devex, a global community of 500,000 development professionals and one thousand donors, companies, and NGOs

The Eldis Community site, a free-to-use online community where you can meet others involved in international development, discuss issues that are important to you and share useful resources

Global Focus Aotearoa, a specialist provider of information and education on global and development issues

The Huffington Post’s feed on International Development

INTernational DEVelopment NETwork (Beta site), a professional networking site for students, scholars, professionals, academics, practitioners and activists dedicated to constructive change and development, a practical resource for those who work with communities (in the wider sense of the term) to help them identify and adopt more sustainable practices

Monitoring and Evaluation NEWS, a blog style website & news service (since 1997), and email list (since 2004) focusing on developments in M&E methods relevant to development programmes with social development objectives. Managed by Rick Davies, and now having 2600+ members worldwide.

New Tactics in Human Rights, an online community of more than 2,500 human rights practitioners in more than 130 countries. Users have access to a database of over 190 specific and successfully-implemented human rights tactics. The website hosts peer-to-peer exchange through monthly Tactical Dialogues, forming an online global community of human rights advocacy.

Partos Plaza – Netwerken Voor Internationale Samenwerking (in Dutch)

Peace and Collaborative Development Network, a free professional networking site (with over 16,400 members from around the world) to foster dialogue and sharing of resources in international development, conflict resolution, gender mainstreaming, human rights, social entrepreneurship and related fields

People in Aid Interactive, an online network for people management in the aid and development sector

Society for International Development Forum, the social network for sustainability

The WiserEarth Directory The world's largest free and editable international directory of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and socially responsible organizations (over 110,000 in 243 countries, territories, and sovereign islands).

WiserEarth Community A vibrant community of 41,000+ members making connections, sharing resources, solutions, jobs, and events. (Also includes groups, social movement taxonomy and local face-to-face gatherings.)

Learning Communities

Knowledge Management for Development, a community of international development practitioners who are interested in knowledge management and knowledge sharing issues and approaches

Outcome Mapping Learning Community, a virtual hub for you to share experiences, contact other users of Outcome Mapping, and have fun!

ReliefWeb Communities of Practice (various topics)

Socialbrite, a learning hub and sharing community that brings together top experts in social media, causes and online philanthropy. We're here to share insights about tools and best practices that advance the social good.


Appropedia, a wiki site for collaborative approaches to sustainability, poverty reduction and international development. So far contributors have made 140,291 edits and uploaded 11,859 files.

Global Scale, aiming to create a wiki resource for NGO practitioners where guidelines, lessons learned, tips, links and other help for 'scaling up' effective programs can be found

My M&E, a wiki platform to share knowledge on country-led M&E systems worldwide. In addition to being a learning resource, My M&E facilitates the strengthening of a global community, while identifying good practices and lessons learned about program monitoring and evaluation in general, and on country-led M&E systems in particular.

LinkedIn Groups

Sustainable Development International Network - MojaLink™ connects professionals around the world for collaboration. Non Government Organization, NGO, ONG, IGO, economic, community, poverty, social, non profit, sustainability, fair trade, co-op, microfinance, social public policy, green, change, health, environment, empowerment (~4,000 members)

International Development (~1,900 members)

Base of the Pyramid (~1,500 members)

International Development Professionals (~700 members, focused on growth of markets)

Society of International Development (~600 members)

Sustainable Development Africa (~500 members)

Aid Transparency (~130 members)

PMI International Development Community of Practice (~110 members)

Research-Focused Networks

Global Development Network, a leading International Organization of developing and transition country researchers, policy and research institutes promoting the generation, sharing, and application to policy of multidisciplinary knowledge for the purpose of development (~8,000 members)

Hii Dunia aims to give everyone with knowledge or experience in the Development sector the opportunity to share their work in the form of academic research, papers or dissertations. Hii Dunia welcomes submissions from non-professional, semi-professional or wholly professional collaborations or projects.

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Tags: Boston, LinkedIn, M&E, MIT, Malawi, aid, assistance, change, communities, community, More…conflict, development, entrepreneurship, exchange, foreign, gender, grassroots, human, international, mainstreaming, mapping, media, networks, non-governmental, online, organizations, organizing, outcome, peacebuilding, peer-to-peer, relief, research, resolution, rights, social, virtual, wikis, workers


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Comment by Jennifer Lentfer on September 26, 2010 at 2:20am
Thanks for the suggestions Eyal and Madeline! I've got "Critical Investigations" on my site's links & resources page:
Comment by Madeline Baer on September 25, 2010 at 12:33am
Thanks for this list! Please consider adding the blog Critical Investigations into Humanitarianism in Africa:
Comment by Eyal Raviv on September 14, 2010 at 12:25pm
Recommend: - network for peace
Comment by Muddu Yisito Kayinga on September 11, 2010 at 11:01am
Jennifer, It is really very crucial to have such lists together and am more than sure that the onlinec communities will do more than before in transforming communities worldwide and it will also create communication opportunities for different stakeholders in development to eliminate the system of Proposal solicitation and LOI from agencies you never heard of of and donors end up invest where resources are not highly needed.

I believe we can as well keep in touch and i can help you alot in compiling details from my region (Africa) Uganda in particular to further you vison, Always you can find my details on and you can contact me on

Kind Regards

Comment by Shanthi Amarasekara on September 11, 2010 at 8:45am
Thanks , very Useful.
Comment by Jennifer Lentfer on September 10, 2010 at 6:14pm
Thanks everyone for your comments and encouragement. The list continues to grow with more suggestions from folks! I will continue to update it on my blogsite:
Comment by Dr John Atibila on September 10, 2010 at 4:46am
Very useful, thanks!
Comment by Craig Zelizer on September 10, 2010 at 1:42am
Thanks this is a terrific list and will add this to the key resource guide list on the network
Comment by sowmya ayyar on September 10, 2010 at 1:20am
thanks this is great.
Comment by Anne-Marie Judson on September 9, 2010 at 11:02pm
Thanks for this I will definitely go and have a look at all of them now .... Great job!

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