In the midst of this volunteering explosion, cooperation is one of the most important things an organization must embrace. As we learned from the Industrial Revolution (and from every single step we’ve made away from direct subsistence) delegating and working together is the key to success for the largest numbers. As a global network is built, each new organization must become part of that network—building on to the best parts by seeking out the people who are doing the most good. Once a working infrastructure is built, there is no reason to start a new one, especially when the early stages of building can be so difficult and can burn up so many precious resources. Instead, new resources can best be utilized in tandem with pre-existing systems. To bring all of this out of the theoretical: a volunteer organization can do the most good by working with other high-quality established organizations overseas.
New Orleans has been through a lot. Katrina famously demolished whole neighborhoods while residents, many of them poor, suffered. Some of the storm’s effects were immediate—massive flooding, cut-off emergency services, a lack of clean water or food—and others were longer-lasting—water-borne illness, violence born of desperation, lost insurance coverage, and unemployment (to name a few). Today parts of the city are still underwater, if metaphorically. The Lower Ninth Ward, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods because of the failed levees, has become a jungle… literally. As residents fled, streets were left without tending, and, in time, nature has taken over.