Friday, 30 August 2013

Donations to charity - Making the right decision

We always want to give to help others but we often find ourselves asking questions like whom should I be giving and how much? How do I know that I am giving it to the right people and it's helping the community? The answers weren't readily available for most of us which makes charitable donations a confusing and sometimes frustrating process. If you type the words “charity in India” into Google, you will see around 157 million results. If you try to be more specific by typing in “children charity causes India,” you will still get 53 million results. No one has time to sift through these results and find a cause worthwhile to make donation. So how do you choose a cause or a charity? Here are some simple steps to finding a cause/charity that’s perfect for you.

1.   Find your passion

The first step is to find a cause that you’re passionate about. You could be frustrated with the constant environmental degradation in your neighborhood or angered to see street children wasting their precious childhood on streets or feel helpless seeing an old man lying on the road waiting to die. First thing you should do is to tap into your inner emotions and think about what it is that makes you tick. You can only be satisfied if you donate your money or time to a charity that represents a cause you truly believe in. It’s great if you are able to find a cause which truly makes you happy otherwise you can take a hint from what your friends, colleagues or your company is doing. Try being a part of your friend’s initiative or company’s social responsibility program which will not only help you to understand about various social issues but also help you to find the one the cause that you can relate to.

2.   Focus on how your actions will have impact

After you have found the cause you are passionate about, it’s time now to look at finer aspects on how the cause can have effect on the world. Let’s say that you are annoyed to see that a local lake or river is getting polluted due to careless disposal of waste. There are many ways to resolve the issue, one may either choose to conduct an annual cleanup drive, or organize camps to spread awareness about waste disposal in the neighborhood or may even go to the extent of persuading local municipality come up with strict regulation on penalizing people who litter around the lake. All of them (separately or in combination) will solve the issue at hand, but with different levels of impact. Personally, you may think that penalizing littering may be the best solution and start supporting a local organization which is working for bringing a law in this regard, but we never know how long it will take or how effective it will be at the end. The best possible solution could be a combination of all three but it requires larger levels of commitment. So instead of choosing a cause and regret not able to do much, it’s important to select a cause that suits your affordability, time and money.

3.   Do research

Once you've identified a cause and its impact, now is the time to use the resources such as internet, social media and do a little research.  The research is for identifying the right organization which shares your passion. If your specific cause, say is “environmental awareness” and if you do a simple Google search, you will find a number websites for one or more specific organizations working for the cause.  The best part about our society today is that if you care about a specific cause, it is very likely that there will be an organization working towards the cause.You can visit the web sites of charities which will allow you to research further into what the particular charity has done for its cause. It’s very important for you to look at aspects such as overall goals, past financials especially funds raised and corresponding  project expenditure to understand how effectively the donations are spent on the cause. You can take help of platforms such as iCharity to minimize the efforts.

4.   Get Involved in other ways

Now you have found your cause and the organization, its time you decide on the donations. It is crucial as it is your hard earned money and you do not want your donations to end up in wasteful expenditures rather than the cause. At the outset you can start giving small regularly and see how it impacts and once convinced about the capability of the organization, you can start getting involved in larger projects.

If you think donating money affront is not a good idea, be open to other approaches such as volunteering, participation in various events, donating items etc. This will help you understand the dynamics of the charity organizations and have a firsthand experience on working for the cause. If you find a cause that you’re passionate about the limits are endless on what can be done to help.

The world is becoming wealthier and more of us are able to satisfy our needs. On the other hand, the world is also becoming more unequal. The gaps between the privileged and the disadvantaged are growing wider and compelling for immediate action. At this age of information, more than ever before we have the tools to learn about various social issues, what actions are available to us, and make informed decisions on how we can make a difference. 


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