HAD Recommends: Podcasts for Humanitarian Workers

September 16, 2019

Podcasts are rapidly growing in popularity and can be a useful tool. In this blog post our Marketing and Communications Intern, Gabriela Hagedorn, recommends her top podcasts for humanitarian workers.

How many times have you been obsessed with a book and hoped you could listen to it while you walk?

At least I have. As humans, we think in stories, and from a young age, our brains gravitate towards narratives.

Even more, a study at Stanford University proved that we remember information 22 times more when it is part of a narrative than facts alone.

And Neuro-economist, Paul Zak, found that character-driven stories cause our brains to release oxytocin, a neurochemical which plays an important role in feeling empathy towards others.

In 2018, 525,000 podcasts were available in different platforms, with over 18.5 million episodes produced over the year, proving that podcasts have acquired more and more audience over the past few years.

Nowadays, we are used to rushing everywhere.

Maybe it is just me, but there was a moment in the day that during my commute to work or back home where I needed more than just listening to music, and that is when I discovered podcasts.

This type of audio listening is a really good way to not only listen to facts and interesting things, but to go back to storytelling.

Podcasts are mainly listening to conversations from people all over the world as if you were there yourself, being free, portable and specially made to engage with each audience’s interest.

For humanitarians, listening to podcasts are a good way to not only get informed about what is happening in the humanitarian sector, but is a way to get inspired with stories. There are so many podcasts that can help improve optimisation and personal and professional growth.

I want to recommend the best ones in my opinion.

Podcasts for Humanitarian Workers

Strategies and lessons for the humanitarian sector

There are many podcasts that are made by NGO organizations or experienced humanitarian workers who want to share their knowledge in the field.

The following podcasts are, in my opinion, the most helpful for those who want to learn about the sector.

Nonprofits Are Messy: with Joan Garry

In this podcast hosted by Joan Garry, you can learn valuable lessons about fundraising, leadership team building,

Marketing and Communications and even Self-Care in the Non-profit sector.

The fun thing about this podcast is that it focuses on real-life scenarios that a NGO could face, and with the help of experts in the conversation, it could be a good help for any aid worker.

podcasts for humanitarian

Hubcast: Nonprofit Hub Radio

Another podcast dedicated to non-profits is Hubcast.

Hosted by CEO of Nonprofit Hub, Randy Hawthorne, every episode gives the opportunity to learn and be inspired by the experience of NGOs and influential thought leaders.

The episodes I mostly recommend are called “What next?” and they include interesting interviews to experienced NGO workers about the new models and ideas used in the sector.

This is especially helpful for those who want to be one step ahead of the changes that the non-profit sector could live in the near future.

All in all, a great podcast for humanitarian workers.

Nonprofit Jenni Show

This podcast has an interesting overview of the challenges commonly faced by organisations in the NGO sector. Jenni Hargrove, a charitable marketing coach, interviews representatives from different non-profits to make sure that multiple perspectives are presented.

An interesting side of this podcast is the section of Anonymous Q&A, where Jenni answers questions from non-profit staff or board members.

This could be especially useful for not only those who follow the show, but to those new or small NGOs that cannot afford formal assessment and need advice to get things started.

It’s an excellent podcast for humanitarian workers who are new to the sector.

The importance of staying informed

As NGO workers, being updated with news is not only important but very challenging if you want to keep up with everything that is going on in the world.

For me, the following podcasts helps to provide a good picture of current information in a fast and entertaining way.


This podcast consists in a 3-minute daily news report that will keep you updated with the main information that you need to follow according to the UN. It is a good alternative for those who have only a few minutes in the day and cannot afford to read the news.

You can listen to it briefly while you have your coffee in the morning, on your way to work or in any 3 minutes you get of free time.

It also includes 4-6-minute episodes of a more in-depth explanation of the main events or natural disasters that are happening in the world and what the UN is doing about it.

The news include climate change issues, natural disasters, humanitarian news, conflicts, etc. It’s a fantastic podcast for humanitarian workers with not much spare time on their hands.

podcasts for humanitarian

The Take – Al Jazeera

If you want to get more information and analysis in depth, Al Jazeera has the best solution with a weekly 20-minute episode of a story of Al Jazeera journalism.

My favourite thing about this podcast is that it tells stories from any part of the world with a good context and direct testimonies with the affected.

It is the perfect way to get to know what the most important events of the week are, and it is made by correspondents who have covered personally each event, which gives an interesting and personal narrative.

podcasts for humanitarian

The Inquiry – BBC

The podcast The Inquiry gets beyond the headlines to explore the trends, forces and ideas shaping the world.

This is the perfect way to get informed about those questions that you always had in mind, but you were too afraid to ask.

Is there really a solution to Climate Change? Can hunger ever be resolved? All these questions try to be answered in only 20 minutes with the help of BBC journalists and experts.

Inspiration is key

When we are working in the NGO sector, it is important to always remember why we are doing our work.

Hearing real-life stories from around the world can inspire us to do our work more passionately and also have more perspectives about certain issues that we try to solve.

In their own words – Amnesty International UK

This podcast is filled with amazing real-life stories, direct from around the world that have or are fighting for their rights.

From Chelsea Manning in high-security military prison, to the story of Iranian journalist Khadjia Ismayilova, these stories can inspire us to reach our objectives in life for the greater good.

This one is a great podcast for humanitarian workers looking for a bit of inspiration from real life people.

Good Life Project – with Jonathan Fields

A look into inspirational, intimate and unfiltered conversations about living a and meaning-drenched life.

These podcasts include the participation of iconic world-shakers like Elizabeth Gilbert and Brene Brown, but also stories from non-famous people who want to make the world a better place. As the podcasts suggests, every story matters.

Written by Gabriela Hagedorn
Marketing and Communications Intern