HOW TO GIVE WELL & EFFECTIVELY
Tis the Giving season and I’m probably going to get in some hot water here and offend a few with this post, but as someone who was worked very hard with nonprofits and projects all over the world, I feel its important to share my opinion based on my personal experiences., specially now over the holiday- gala- fundraising season when so many people decide to kindly and generously donate to all kinds of causes ( helping children and vulnerable communities, protecting endangered species and the environment, ocean conservation, supporting communities still devastated by the damage of wildfires as a result of climate change, education, cancer research and well the list is endless). What’s important is to know who you are donating to, how do they work, how is your donation going to make an impact and how can you track or monitor the effectiveness of this donation (no matter how small or big).
Not so long ago, I was scammed by a very well established and known charity supporting a cause I care for very deeply. Rather than donate money, a friend and I decided to be proactive and get our network involved. The results were incredible, we go so much support not only from our friends but our corporate community. Everyday we collected clothing, blankets, medical supplies, and we filled three trucks from top to bottom. I had previously ensured a contract and signed agreement, in return all I was asking for was some photos of the distribution.
After a few months I started following up and I never got a call back, I got concerned when I heard rumours the charity was selling donations and worse yet, I received an anonymous call from someone “ inside” saying that some of the donations were still sitting in a storage unit and were never distributed despite having a signed agreement. I am not allowed to disclose the name of this " organization" as I was threatened despite my many efforts to find out the truth and open an investigation.. I can't express my shame at not being able to fulfill my commitment specially to those that so greatly participated and came together to help such a potentially good mission. It broke my heart my trust and has made me so cautious and skeptical on who and how to still support. Even though I thought I was protected, you still have to know the organization and its way of working if you truly want to follow up with your support.
Whatever reasons you have to donate this season, If your goal is to make an impact I want to remind you that its not about how much you donate because even a little can go a long way if its going to right organization,. If you are in a position to give back your best off doing research and understanding how and where your Donation is actually going. Personally, I find the glitzy organizations the ones to be wary of in general. They’re not necessarily bad but do you think those C - List celebs that fly in first class and stay in expensive hotels are paying with their own money to attend that charity gala? Unfortunately probably not. Is it wrong or silly to pay a shit load of money to sit and take a few pictures with that celebrity for a good cause? Well thats up to You decide how and where you want your money to go, ( no judgement here).
Here are some general tips on Effective Donating:
Research, ask the necessary questions, you can check an organization's profile on Charity Navigator and see how much it spends on overhead costs versus program expenses and understand the effectiveness of its work. Overhead costs don’t necessarily mean its bad ( view this Ted Talk), Dan Pallotta says: Let's change the way we think about changing the world.
If a non profit or charity seem reluctant or indifferent to your interest and involvement, its best to stay clear away. If they need or want your help they will employ methods to ensure they are executing their work correctly and transparently.
We are all moved by stories, unfortunately check the facts - it doesn't mean they are all true.
Look for proven effectiveness. The best evidence is to look at controlled analysis ( ethical monitoring performance) that demonstrate significant impact. This is key. No matter how small or big the non profit or charity.
If your working with a small non profit, find out what their specific needs are. Help raise money for those specific needs, get your friends, your kids and community involved. Also smaller charities may be in more need of your time or skills than just money. In fact I find that donating your time, and volunteering is the most rewarding way to give back.
The bigger charities are more prone to bureaucracy, pension obligations, marketing/admin costs and salaries. But scale can still be a major advantage in terms of the impact the charity can have.
In conclusion, no matter what your reasons are for donating or to who, be smart about your choice because you have the necessary tools to track the effectiveness of where and how your donation is being used.
For further information:
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