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~ May 2007 ~ Topics

Text Messages That Matter

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Text Messages That Matter

heart image With inconsistent or limited access to internet service, many online and social networking tools are challenging or irrelevant for volunteer managers in developing countries.  Yet, the cell phone, a technology now found in very remote locations, is developing new applications. 

Organizations with volunteers in remote areas of the world have found innovative ways to use cell phones, text messaging (SMS), and centralized databases to quickly connect people to vital information in a way that has never before been possible. The Network of Mobile Election Monitors recruited Nigerian volunteers with cell phones to send text reports of election fraud to a centralized database during their recent presidential elections. Volunteer reports could be quickly analyzed and forwarded on to international election observers. HIV/AIDS service organizations are giving community health care workers instant access to medical information that can be updated on the spot.world image

These programs offer exciting new ways to gather and share critical information when and where it is needed, expand services to previously underserved areas, and engage volunteers in distant locations. For more information, visit http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/internet/page6686.cfm or http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6570919.stm.  Are your volunteers using cell phones and SMS in your programs? Please send your examples and stories to roxannehanson@yahoo.com.

Interested in more information on International Volunteering? Check out our online bookstore for Isto da Samba, Corporate Volunteerism: the Brazilian Way by Monica Beatriz Galiano & Barnabe Medeiros Filho and Al Tatawae, Volunteering in the Arab World by Dr. Lobna M. Abdelmagid and Mr. Izzat Abdul-Hadi.

Details for Isto da Samba Book Details for Al Tatawae Book

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Washington State University offers a Volunteer Management Certification Program through the Internet. Individuals around the world can earn a certificate in managing or coordinating volunteers, without leaving home. For more information, visit Volunteer Today's Portal site, Internet Resources. Look for the Washington State University listing. There is a hot link to their Web site.

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Roxanne Hanson is the author of the International Volunteering page. She works at and can be contacted at: The NonprofitCenters Network, P.O. Box 29125, San Francisco, CA 94129, 415-561-6365, rhanson@tides.org.

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