Welcome to the Youthlinc Impact Modules. All participants will complete monthly impact modules that will address issues of bias, white saviorism, and mental health. These modules will help participants to understand themselves and others before traveling internationally. These modules help us become better humanitarians and set us up for sustainable best practices while we are serving abroad.


What is a handout?

Are they sustainable and beneficial to all concerned?

What does it mean to be Sustainable?

What is sustainability?

What is the Difference?

How do we ensure we take part of organizations that practice sustainability?


SECTION 1: What is a hand out?
What does it mean to be sustainable?

What is a Handout?

A handout is something given freely with no cost associated with the gift. It is usually something short-term and materialistic in nature.

What does it mean to be sustainable?

Sustainability is defined as development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Instead of a handout consider a hand-up.A hand-up is something that provides long-term change and sustainable development within a person or community. It is centered around teaching individuals or groups skills, job training, development, and communication skills that will allow them to help themselves build a better life.

Sustainability vs. Handouts: What is the difference?

Handouts are short-term gifts that give momentary benefits. Handouts are a gift from someone who is either knowingly or unconsciously in a position of power, giving to someone who is in need. Handouts can be essential in certain crises that need immediate aid, such as natural disasters. In most cases, a handout is only a temporary solution and fails to pull people out of difficult situations in the long run. Handouts can create an imbalance of power, unintentionally provide a sense of superiority on part of the giver, and a sense of inferiority on part of the receiver. They can create a cycle of dependence that can feed into the status quo of hopelessness.


When you give someone a hand-up, you empower them to see something inside themselves they did not before, and show them that they are capable of achieving great things. Hand-ups do not create power dynamics, and seek to elevate every individual to greater heights. They involve working shoulder to shoulder despite circumstances, and involve mentoring and collaboration while you encourage them along the way. Hand-ups are focused on long-term goals instead of short-term benefits. Sustainabile solutions impact the immediate needs while addressing the long term goals, with out compromising the ability to help oneself. A hand up encourages, active learning, and curisity for change. As the saying goes “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”

SECTION 2: Examples of
Handouts vs. Hand-ups?

Consider this story to highlight the themes in Peter Greer and Phil Smith’s book The Poor Will be Glad

One cold day you walk into a shoe store and find warm, comfortable, and sturdy boots for a surprisingly cheap price. You just got a nice big paycheck, and feel like you want to spend some of that money to do some good in the world. You feel inspired and decide to talk to the shopkeeper and arrange a deal to buy a bulk order of 400 pairs of boots to give to needy communities across the world. You find a poverty-stricken community in Mongolia that has really cold winters, and decide that they could really benefit from the new warm boots. You book a ticket, hire a translator, and head out across the world to donate your boots to whoever looks like they could use a pair.

Soon after you arrive there is a large crowd around you laughing and so happy to receive their new boots. You look around at their happy faces and feel good inside, the gifts felt really good to give out than they were to receive. You pack up all of your things and head home feeling really good about your trip. You look around at all the smiling faces wearing their new boots, but you don’t notice the upset looking man from inside his stall. 

He was already there with his shoe shop before you arrived and is still there, however you didn’t think about what he was doing because he already had a warm pair of boots and therefore didn’t need any of your help. You examine his shop and find that he has a few pairs of boots ready to sell. As you walk out of the community, you pass smiling children, and notice that the man begins to pack up his shop. It’s too cold to sit in his shop any longer, now that the three men he knew were saving up to purchase from him are showing off their new boots. The man walks home upset, thinking about his family and how he is going to afford his living expenses this month. He knows that this will mean no one will buy his boots, so he decides to sell what he has at a cheaper rate, make up the rest of the money by selling his shoe making equipment, and find some other job. 

What we see portrayed in the news and media, as well as the conversations we have with those around us, can influence our thinking more than we know. For instance, portrayals of women as homemakers and housewives in popular media can carve associations in our thinking. You may consciously believe women are just as adept at men in the workplace, but if you implicitly associate women with housework, you may unconsciously judge them more harshly for shortcomings on the job.

This is a great example of how a well-intentioned hand out actually created negative consequences for a community you were trying to help. In an attempt to foster positive change, you took a job from a local shoemaker who depended on that job to provide for his family.

How could you change this unfortunate story into one of sustainability and positive development? Let’s imagine this story differently.

You walk into the same shoe store, see the boots, and think about giving them to the poor. But instead of focusing on what will make you feel good, you focus on how you can create a sustainable and positive change for a poverty stricken community. You go home, do your research, find the same community in Mongolia and decide to fly there. You arrive in the country without any handouts, but instead recruit a translator and have a goal in mind – one of learning and asking questions. You find a man in a small local shop and decide to sit down and talk to the man. You have a conversation with him about the challenges, opportunities, and goals of operating a small business within his community. After much discussion, you learn that his greatest challenge is the high price of quality leather from a local supplier. You go back to your hotel and spend some time creating a thoughtful plan, and after some time you put it in motion. 

You visit other nearby stores and find a common theme, the price of materials is too high to purchase from their suppliers. After gaining this new knowledge, you visit a group of local businessmen and use their local knowledge to locate a reliable supplier of different items needed. You negotiate a discount for bulk and future orders, and arrange for the most economically efficient way to purchase and ship all of the items. You find a local man who is in need of a job, and he is selected to be in charge of the distribution and oversight of the newly arranged business deal. With the new deal, multiple businesses in the area can sell their goods at a reduced price and new jobs were created in the community. You put the word out in the community and soon enough men and women are checking out the goods and prices that they can now afford. 

At the end of the day, the shoemaker  pulls out all of the money he has made from her sales that day. Most of his boots were sold at full price, so she now has a good pile of money in her hands. He counts out the money needed for rent, and finds out that there is extra money in his hand, which he will spend on things at the next shop over. With all of his new supplies, he walks home quickly, excited about the new shoes he can now make thanks to the new supplies. 

By the next winter, all of the shopkeepers have more products to sell at a lower price. This means that more families have more money to spend, which helps the entire community gain income and provide for their families. The cycle is positive and things are destined to improve for many winters to come. 

This is a great example of how hand-ups can create a long cycle of sustainability and positive change. By listening and working side to side with people, you can learn about real problems and encourage people and communities to work together to improve their quality of life. Hand-ups provide people with a chance to help themselves for a lifetime, as opposed to relying on donations that would just get them through one day.

Another example of handouts are the famous "buy one, give one" models of for profit organizations. You may be familiar with the old model of Toms. Since gaining a better understanding and listening to the evidence of their Impact. Toms has since made adjustments and moved to a more sustainable model. Toms now donates 1/3 of their total profits to grassroots nonprofits and community organizations to improve their sustainability.

Goodwill, utilizes both the benefits of timely handouts and hand-ups to provide sustainable opportunities to those wanting to build professional skills and gain experience for a better life: Understanding when each model can be applied is part of sustainability as a hole.

SECTION 3: How can you be sustainable?

How do you align yourself or determine that who you are working with is actually sustainable?

Eavluate and Adjust

Sustainable partners and organizations evaluate their work and continually readjust as they get new information:

It is important to recognize that sustainability doesn't mean that you do things perfectly each and every time. Sustainability doesn't happen overnight. It takes constant evaluation and collaboration by all involved to develop the appropriate long term solutions.

Harm Reduction

Harm reduction means that yourself or an organization strives to do as little or no harm as possible. If they find that old practices are unintentionally harmful, they will stop those practices despite any benefits or gain that they may be receiving.


A Mindset or learning and listening is crucial collaboration and development.
We should ask, "Why are we doing this?", "How are we doing this?", "Who will be affected by this?"
We should always strive to do better today than we did yesterday. Whenever approaching a project do so with your success and failures in mind.
When find something is not perfect, keep a positive mindset and work to improve rather than becoming discouraged and disengaged.
It is never to late to notice your impact, agknowlege mistakes, and move forward.


Sustainable organizations are transparent and open about exactly what they are doing. This could mean publishing impact reports, that show the organizations results and progress.
It may also include a transparent donor profile and operation budget, so you know exactly where your dollar, time, or investment is going towards.
Transparency allows for you to see your active impact within the organization.

Impact Vs. Intent

Sustainable organization recognize the Impact of thier actions rather than focusing on their intent. sustainability means that you are focused on the real world consequences of your actions rather than your intentions.