Charity - How to REALLY help people?
February 26, 2007 8:25am CST
When I was younger, I took great pride in dropping money in a salvation army bucket around Christmas in hopes that some other child would benefit. I always bought charity pens, bracelets and things like that. But, Now being older and hopefully wiser, I've realized just how little of what you give actually makes it to help someone rather than goes into "administration". I can't stand to give a donation to a cause and just give myself a pat on the back and go on about my business anymore. I have to KNOW that at a minimum 50% is going directly to the cause I've chosen. There aren't a lot of homeless people in Australia, but the last time I got asked for money I offered the person lunch and we went down the street and bought subway. (She ordered something reasonable instead of taking me for a ride.) This is really the only kind of charity I can feel comfortable with. I wouldn't even feel right trying to take donations for most organizations because of what I said before. What can I do to make SURE I'm really helping and not just wasting money that will never get to the person?
• United States
28 Feb 07
A tricky question, and one that each person really must answer for themselves. I find that it helps if I'm giving to an organization that I know from personal experience actually does help people. Here in America for example, are groups such as The Lion's Club, Habitat for Humanity, The Muscular Dystrophy Association, and The United Way. I feel safe donating to any of these and confident that they will do far more with the money than I could, due to their ability to combine donations and make use of bulk purchasing. That aside, I suggest basically doing what you've already done and make your charitable efforts personal. Find women's shelters, orphanages, clinics and such groups that accept donations. Buy food, shoes, clothes, blankets... whatever you can afford or find on sale when you have any spare money and make care packages that you can give directly to people in need. Just avoid things like canned goods, if you don't include a can opener. (smiles) Another excellent way, in some ways far superior to donating money or hard goods, is to volunteer. Join an organization or even form one. Hospitals, shelters, nursing homes, halfway houses and soup kitchens in this area are all regularly desperate for reliable volunteers. Any way that you choose to go about it, let your heart guide you. Charity is an expression of kindness and love for others... and I find that it's an instinct that rarely leads you astray.
26 Feb 07
I too have the same problem as you. I donate as much as I can to charities, but I look for charities supported completely by volunteers and thus have no administration fees, in fact, some are so efficient, that the government will match donations and create a negative administration fee. Every other charity that asks gets a loonie (Canadian Dollar) in their donation cup. Also, I give to organizations that help the homeless (United Way) rather than actually giving the homeless anything directly. Only because in Canada, I refuse to believe you have to be homeless given our social services here, and I have seen things from them that have caused me to be suspicious - including many who refuse the food you offer to buy them (because they can find it, but it is hard to find money)
• United States
3 Mar 07
I have also dropped money into various collection buckets, and bought various fundraising items for charities. These days I usually donate clothing and food items, but I personally prefer to volunteer my time.