Write for IDR

We believe good ideas and stories are everywhere, and can come from anyone. Our editorial focus is on cross-sector solutions to development problems, new insights, and lessons from real-world practice. IDR covers a wide range of sectors and themes, and our content comes in different formats: text, video, image, and audio.

Due to the high number of submissions we receive, it takes us up to two weeks to respond to content that you send in.

What we cover

If you have an idea that you would like to share with us, you can learn more about the nature of our content and process in the following paragraphs.


We do not publish pieces that come across as promotional or that do not include citations where ideas, statistics and statements have been borrowed from elsewhere.

Here are five qualities we look for when evaluating what to publish:

  1. Expertise
    You don’t need to be well known to be an IDR contributor, but you must know a lot about the subject you are writing about.
  2. Evidence
    It’s not enough to know your subject—you have to prove it to the reader. You can do this by referring to supporting research and describing relevant examples from your own experience or the experience of others. If you have interesting data, include it.
  3. New insight
    Because our sector has a great deal of expertise and diversity of experience, new ideas and approaches are not only rare, they are also one of the main reasons readers turn to IDR. If you’re writing about a well-understood topic (for example, education gaps in India), we’ll be looking for a unique argument or insight or a new perspective on an existing idea.
  4. Relevance
    Readers come to us not only to stay on top of the latest thinking on development in India, but also to change the way they and their organisations actually do things. If you can explain your thinking so that the reader understands how to apply it in a real situation, that will make it more powerful.
  5. Clarity, structure, and appeal
    People working in development are most often extremely busy. Many are also experts in their respective fields. If you don’t capture their interest right away, they will move on to something else.

All submissions must be sent to [email protected]. We accept pitches, as well as full drafts of articles. If sending us a pitch, please keep in mind the following:

  1. A pitch should be no longer than 200 words. If you wish to write an opinion piece, do consider what is important, useful, or new about what you are proposing. Your pitch should
    • Articulate the central argument of the article.
    • Make a case as to why a majority of IDR readers would benefit from it.
  2. Include a few lines about yourself and your experience to help communicate your knowledge on this topic.
  3. Be in Word Document format. We will not review documents submitted in a PDF or PowerPoint format.

IDR pays contributors from communities marginalised by the barriers of class, caste, gender, sexuality, disability, geography, and religion. To learn more about how this works, read this.

Keep in mind
If our editors ask you to go ahead and work on the article, we may still need to see a final draft before officially accepting the piece for publication.

If sending us an article, please keep in mind the following:

  1. The article draft should be no longer than 1,200 words; if you are submitting a humour piece, it should be no longer than 500 words.
  2. If you wish to submit an opinion piece, do consider what is important, useful, or new about what you are proposing. Your article should:
    • Focus on the idea, insight, or lesson you are highlighting rather than showcase your organisation.
    • Mention previous work, any data/evidence, or experience that your idea builds upon.
    • Be in Word Document format. We will not review documents submitted in a PDF or PowerPoint format.

While we consider and respond to ALL submissions to IDR, sending us articles helps us gauge the content better in terms of its fit with our readers.


Article ideas

We receive more submissions than we can publish, and so from time to time we have to say no to good proposals due to limitations such as the piece not being distinct enough from other pieces we have published. If we have passed on something you have submitted, please feel free to submit another idea. If our editors have said no multiple times, it may mean your idea or angle isn’t a good fit for our audience.

Re-publishing content

IDR features content that seeks to raise the level of thinking and discourse on development topics. With this in mind, we are open to publishing articles that have appeared elsewhere as long as they align with the kind of content our readers want to read. If the piece you are submitting to IDR has been carried by another publication already, permission from them to have it republished must be included in your e-mail.

Editorial decisions

We retain final decision rights over headlines, blurbs, date of publishing, and image use. Our team has spent a great deal of time learning which kinds of headlines and blurbs give IDR pieces the best chance of being read, found online, and shared both on social media and in offices around the country.

We ask our authors to disclose any relationships they have with any organisations cited in the proposed article. We need to know if you have a consulting relationship, for example, or if you serve on a governing board. These sorts of relationships do not necessarily disqualify you from writing the article, but we need to be aware of them.

IDR typically holds copyright on the finished product, but authors continue to own the underlying ideas in their articles.

Ground Up

Ground Up features anecdotal, easy-to-consume, multi-media stories, providing insights into how things operate close to the grassroots, within communities, amidst frontline workers, inside government offices, and so on.

Ground Up can be text, photo, or video-led. Text pieces should be no longer than 500 words; photo essays should have at least 3 images (but no more than 10); and videos should be at most three minutes in length.

The goal is to keep the content light and effective.

Your submissions should have no personal judgement on the communities or people; it should be observation-led. You can record how people are expressing their feelings, but you shouldn’t assume on their behalf. Please go through the stories on Ground Up to get a better idea.

Who can write
Anyone can write for Ground Up—frontline workers, people running evaluations and conducting research, fellows and students working at the grassroots, etc. We are not looking for experience or expertise in any area, but fresh perspectives from the field.

How to submit
Please send in your entries at [email protected]. Make sure to include your personal details:

  • Full name
  • An 80-word bio and a headshot of you (the author)
  • Location of the story (district and state)

It is very important that any multi-media content submitted to Ground Up is done so with the unambiguous consent of the people featured in the images or videos. While submitting your photo or video story, please include the following line in your email:

I, _______________, assure that all individuals featuring in my photographs/video have consented to have their images/video shared on the internet.

IDR will assume consent in any photograph or video submitted to us.

Editorial rights

The team at IDR retains final decision rights over headlines, blurbs, and date of publishing. We might also suggest language or content edits before publishing an article. Please keep in mind that we may still need to see a final draft before officially accepting the piece for publication.


We are constantly looking for compelling images that represent development work from across sectors and regions. Whether you are a professional or amateur photographer, a nonprofit that has a rich bank of imagery depicting your work, a donor that has commissioned photography of your portfolio organisations—we want to hear from you.

All submissions must be sent to [email protected]. You may send us images via Google Drive, WeTransfer, or DropBox.

We publish photographs on our website in the following ways:

  1. As photo essays
  2. As imagery that accompanies an article on a related topic

If sending us images to be considered for any of the above, please keep in mind the following:

  1. Wherever possible, your submission should be accompanied by a sentence or two that tells us where these images were taken as well as who/what is featured in it. Any context is helpful so we do not inadvertently misrepresent the people or work captured in the photos.
  2. The name of the individual or organisation to whom we should assign photo credit.
  3. The URL of your website (if relevant) that you would like us the image to link to.
  4. If sending us images for a photo essay in particular, and it includes accompanying text for each image, please send it to us along with the photos.

Keep in mind

We do not tolerate poverty porn.

IDR expects that the photographer has received consent from the people featured in the photographs—both to be photographed, and for their photos to be used in collateral and digitally. If you do not have consent, do not send us photos until you do. If you have proof of that consent, for instance, a release form, please share that with us.

IDR also expects that the photographer owns the rights of the photographs being shared with us.

How we work


We believe that more people should have access to the perspectives and expertise our contributors share on IDR. And so none of our content sits behind a paywall. We are a nonprofit startup and rely on grant funding to support our work, as a result of which we are not able to pay for photographs at this time. However, in addition to assigning photo credit and linking to your website, we also add a line of text that shares a little information about you or your organisation. As the largest online journal for the social sector, IDR provides an opportunity for greater visibility to both individuals and organisations.

Re-publishing content

We are open to publishing photos or photo essays that have appeared elsewhere as long as they align with the kind of content IDR carries. If the photos you are submitting to IDR have been carried by another publication already, permission from them to have them republished must be included in your submission.

Use of your images

We retain final decision rights over date of publishing, caption, and image use. Any images you share with IDR will also appear on any or all of our social media channels, and may be used in our print publications or other collateral.