Monday, February 23, 2015

Why I dread telling people what I do

A few days ago, I wrote this post about where I work. If you haven't read it, it would be good to start there instead of here. Because today, I want to share what exactly I do. And if you don't read about what Unbound does, it will be complicated to understand what I do.

Sitting on my exercise ball, because exercise balls are the funnest. 
Because job titles are sort of meaningless made-up terms (in my opinion), I am going to explain some typical tasks. Unbound works in 21 countries. My tasks are limited to only eight of these countries. (Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Madagascar, Mexico, Tanzania and Uganda). 

~ I had mentioned that when you donate to Unbound, you enter into sort of an individual partnership with a kiddo, teen, or elderly person. You write and exchange letters, words of encouragement, photos. I review a sample of the letters that are coming in from around the world for a variety of criteria, including personalization, who wrote it, how long it took to arrive, and the quality of the translation (when necessary.)

~ If someone in our program passes away or has something big happen in their life, I am the first point of contact within the US. We then pass the message along to their specific donor. 

~ I provide feedback to my assigned countries for the quality of letters, photos, and other communication between us.  

~ It's my job to know and understand how Unbound's model is working in each of my assigned countries. This helps me notice ways that they can grow and improve, but also helps to inform our policies as an organization, and be able to communicate our work accurately. 

~ Unbound has an awesome scholarship program. (It's a great option if you want to help out, but not commit to anything regularly.) It's my job to collect reporting on it, know how it works in each of "my" countries, and help the staff think through potential improvements when necessary.

~ Monthly (or more frequently), we have calls with each country's staff to see how things are going. 

~ Travel - to ensure our program is actually doing what we say it's doing and also to provide training on new initiatives. 
Meeting a staff member on a work trip. Please note that I am a giant. 
These are definitely not all the things I do, but it's sort of hard to imagine writing all that out. (Have you ever tried? Tricky.) My typical day usually involves a lot of emails, Skype calls and chats, and meetings. 

It's kind of tricky writing out what you do for work without using "work jargon". Have you ever tried it? Does my explanation make sense or do you have more questions? 


  1. How much of what is donated goes to the people helped? Do you oversee the money? I am interested in donating. Is it monthly, yearly?

    1. Almost all of the money goes to the people - about 93%. (more info: Our big focus is creating a one-on-one personal relationship between a donor and someone in our program. You can actually see/ read about people on our website who are waiting for someone to partner with them. ( If you choose to do that it's a monthly commitment of $30. You can also contribute for things like scholarships or health though the link in the post.

  2. Very cool! I've wondered about your job for awhile. On behalf of humanity, I thank you.