Advice from the field: How to give effectively

Every decision we make tells the world something about who we are and what we value. Even the smallest actions and gestures of love twist together – knitting themselves into the tapestry of our existence. 

But in a world with so much need, how do we navigate? How can we effectively help others without hurting them? Donors are sometimes criticized when they give to unscrupulous organizations, but it’s challenging to evaluate projects abroad when you don’t have direct experience in aid work. How can we best ensure that our donations are able to make an impact?

To help donors navigate the charity landscape, DonorSee partners with a network of change-makers who are deeply committed to serving their community and its specific needs. When using our platform, donors can rest assured that our partners are experts in their field, with a proven track record of success and accountability.

Below, we have included 10 giving tips our Partners would like to share with donors. We hope you can use their wisdom to guide your generosity forward.

Do not be afraid to ask questions and do some of your own research. Donate to organizations that are doing the type of work that makes your heart happy. If the project doesn’t seem important to you move on and find a different one that does. There is so much need in the world and it is okay to be choosy with your money. – Amy Hathaway

Donating is a very spiritual act. It is vital to reflect on your motives for giving. Common reasons include compassion and altruism but a certain angst or guilt about the abundance we enjoy in the developed world can creep in. We must be aware that we enjoy more material things and security that most of the worlds population but a donation should be a conscious act to address the need of a fellow human being, created in God’s image. Donating is a defiance of selfishness and should be a liberating act both for the receiver and for the giver. – Marcus Pearson

What moves you? What makes you weep? In the bible in Nehemiah chapter 1 there is a story of Nehemiah living in exile. He was brought news that the temple walls in Jerusalem were ruined. The bible says he wept. He was full of grief for the temple in Jerusalem. He then did something about it – he went and rebuilt the temple walls. What makes you weep? Find that thing and then do something about it! – Margot Biggs

Look at sustainable projects that empower and don’t create aid dependency unless it’s an emergency situation and empowerment can come later. Look towards projects that create business, training, education etc. Be savvy and discerning. Be careful of people that claim they run orphanages..make sure they’re bonafide and aligned with government standards or not a boarding school collecting international funding. We’ve seen a lot of corruption over 13 years, so get others advice who might live locally. – Jill Vine

My advice is to choose Seed Change! Jokes aside, I’d say you should decide what causes are most important to you and then research organizations working in that field. It is important to know what your money is being used for so I recommend reviewing any and all financial information the organization provides. A good place to start is Annual Reports, which should tell you exactly how money has been used in the previous year as well as plans for this year. – Patrick Haigis

I set up Sparkle because I realized that so many charities say one thing and do another. It pains me that a sector which is meant to be helping the most vulnerable people, is sometimes doing the complete opposite. You wouldn’t buy a house without assessing the paper work and employing someone with experience to do the renovation, so don’t donate without doing the same! It is so important that your values align with the organization you are supporting. My colleagues in Malawi and I believe that our mission is to serve the community and it is the people in our community, and a deep knowledge of them, that guides how donations are spent. – Sarah Brook

Find a project that resonates with you and your family. It’s up to you whether you choose to give to the same organization or spread your donations over the globe. Either way, I think you’ll become addicted to the feeling of making big tangible impacts with your God-given resources. – Dallas Brown

Education, Education, Education! There are many needs that people need filled and it is a great opportunity to help people with their immediate needs but education is the only support that does not only help an individual but an entire community. It has the ability to change many lives through understanding of faith, knowledge and wisdom. Education maintains dignity and builds up the person receiving the support. – Ryan Boyette

First, I would say that donations to projects and programs run by community members themselves bring about the most significant long-term impact. Second, it is an investment in sustainable social change. Take me for example – I received a scholarship to study a Bachelors of Education. The scholarship allowed me to pursue my dreams and now I have worked to empower and support many people in my community. The small investment in my education, empowered me not only to improve my own life, but to work to create systematic change and support youth and more communities. By giving to a community-based organization, which focuses not only on providing support, but on teaching others to pay the kindness forward, donors can impact so much more. – Ngojea Kitinusu

Let your heart be your guide. There are so many options to choose from and several different organizations that serve a whole variety of needs. You can find small or large organizations. You can find needs both big and small. I can guarantee that at the end of each one is a smile both on the face of the recipient, but then also on yours as you see your love and generosity in action! – Laura Licari

Do you know someone with an excellent framework on how to give effectively? We’d love to hear from them!

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