Lots of people want to do good, but don’t really know how. We randomly give some spare change, donate to fund raisers, and extend help to a friend in need once in a while. But there’s definitely a better way to help the needy in a more systematic and consistent way.
Most of us spend a disproportionate amount of time on things that don’t really matter and make hasty decisions with those that do. How to be more charitable is probably one of those areas that don’t get sufficient attention.
And that’s a pity, because studies have shown that giving makes us feel good and can help us lead happier, more fulfilling lives.
If this sounds like you, read on to learn more about charitable giving so that you can do your part to help others, and make a positive impact on your life at the same time.
The Cause Should Be Meaningful To You
Most people are happy making regular tax-deductible donations to their favorite charities. They’ve done their part. But there are millions more who would give if they know their money will be used properly, and will really reach those who need it.
If you’re skeptical about donating to the big international aid charities that have complex structures and opaque systems, that’s understandable. Lots of people are. But don’t totally write-off your innate want to help those in need.
There are lots of ways to touch the lives of the needy. But first, you should clarify what is meaningful giving to you and where you would like your contributions to go.
There’s a big difference between saving children’s lives in Africa and helping under privileged kids locally. Both have their merits and both need your help. Figure out what matters more to you and commit to the cause
To make a difference, it would be ideal if you are committed to the cause, so that there’s a better chance to make it a successful, ongoing act of kindness that can grow beyond a one-off gift.
If you’re going to give, make it count. For you and for them.
Mega Charities May Not Be Effective
Did you know that donating to the mega charities may not be the best way to be charitable? Donors who have done their research and really care about helping the poor tend to avoid them.
Far too many people think that giving to charity means making quarterly donations to UNICEF, Oxfam, Save the Children or one of the biggest international charities (with budgets of over $200 million per year).
Unfortunately, they’re not aware that these large organizations are not very transparent in terms of explaining what they do with the money received, or sharing about the results of their activities.
Here are 3 eye-opening articles that may enlighten you about the big name charities:
- Should You Stop Donating To Big Charities?
- Rich charities keep getting richer. That means your money isn’t doing as much good as it could.
When we give, we hope the money is put to good use. It’s hard to know though. And that may be why it feels safer to just rely on the big well-known branded charities.
It is disappointing that with hundreds of millions entrusted to them, the mega charities fail to deliver with greater accountability and better results.
Charity Evaluators Help You Find Suitable Charities
High impact donors focus on how to get the ‘best bang for their buck’. They don’t want their hard earned money to be wasted in administration fees, lost causes or ineffective activities.
They want their donations to have the most impact.
With the help of charity assessment organizations, finding a suitable cause to donate to is easier than you think:
- Make use of Charity Evaluators to discover more about the wide range of charities available and learn about the key metrics that are used to analyze their operations. To donate intelligently, you should know how the system works.
- Founded in 2001 Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavigator.org/) is a popular “charity assessment organization that evaluates hundreds of thousands of charitable organizations based in the United States, operating as a free 501 organization“.
- Established in 2007, GiveWell (https://www.givewell.org/) has a clear focus – “We search for the charities that save or improve lives the most per dollar.” Since it’s formation, GiveWell has helped concerned donors to learn more about charitable giving and put their donations to better use. “GiveWell focuses primarily on the cost-effectiveness of the organizations that it evaluates, rather than traditional metrics such as the percentage of the organization’s budget that is spent on overhead.”
- Charity Navigator had an ineffective assessment system that caused many users to start using GiveWell. It has now been updated to rate charities on impact too, but its core focus is still on judging charities by their finance and accountability.
- GivingWhatWeCan (https://www.givingwhatwecan.org) is another organization focused on identifying effective charities – they’ve got a great article that sums up how to choose a charity.
Money Isn’t The Only Way Of Giving To Charity
Volunteering your time is an alternative way to be charitable. In many ways, it may be equally or even more valuable than cash if you have useful skills or a strong network.
Quite often, by giving your time instead of just signing a cheque (or setting up a direct debit), you may end up being more committed to the cause and hence have a greater impact.
Here are 4 ways to help if you prefer not to donate money:
- Give your time: Some people have money to give but no time to spare. Others aren’t able to donate cash but can contribute their time. People in non-profit organizations always appreciate the extra help as there are endless things to do that need competent volunteers.
- Share your knowledge: Even if you don’t have time to give, you may have useful know-how or a network of contacts/resources that can help get things done, or do things in a better way. Knowledge and experience can be more helpful than money alone.
- Contribute your skills: If you have specialized skills, the time you give may be highly valuable. Not only are you providing free labor, but it is expertise that not everyone can do. From Accounting, IT and Marketing, to Administration, Project Management and Fund Raising, there are lots of areas where professional abilities are needed.
- Give your product or service: Freelancers and people with their own businesses can also donate suitable products and services to help the cause directly, or for fund raising purposes. Instead of only giving your own money, you can tap on the resources in your business to provide a more substantial gift.
Being Charitable In Our Daily Lives
You don’t need to donate large sums of cash or actively contribute to a registered charity to help those in need. There are plenty of ways to be charitable in our daily lives.
Being charitable is the act of giving to the needy. If you reflect on who needs things that you can give every day, you’ll find that there are endless possibilities for you to be generous.
You can’t give money or volunteer to help your favorite charity every day, but you can make being charitable an integral part of your life though kindness:
- Be charitable with your thoughts – Have empathy for friends, family, and strangers around you. Especially those who may have wronged you. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
- Be charitable with your actions – Go above and beyond to do things for others. Do those random acts of kindness. Give, even when it’s not asked of you.
- Be charitable with your patience – Tap on your empathy and compassion to be calm and tolerant during challenging moments.
- Be charitable with your attention – Be mindful of each conversation, each interaction, each moment with another person, and with yourself.
There’s always a way to give. You may not have enough time or money. But very often, they’re not needed. It’s your love and compassion that the needy need.