'Tis the season to be giving, and this is borne out it the flood of appeals from charities over the Christmas period. The sheer number is overwhelming, and we often don't know where to start. We're all in the mood for a bit of philanthropy, but the question is: how do we go about choosing our charity? Worry no more! Just follow these few basic tips, and you'll be well on your way to giving with gusto.
So where to start? Well, charity might be all about giving to others, but to be successful, it needs to begin with knowing yourself - your loves, your interests, your capabilities, your time. All of these aspects will feed into your decision about not only which charity to pick, but how you intend to help your chosen charity.
Have a good think about issues that are closest to your heart. Is it animals, children, welfare, education, environment and so on? If you need inspiration, then cast your mind back over the year you've just had and ask yourself: what was your highlight and what was the low point (White, 2018)? If a highlight was an idyllic seaside escape, you could donate to a sea rescue or beach clean-up programme. Or you could look at your low point. For example, if you lost a pet, then maybe you feel inspired to give to an animal shelter.
Once you have an idea of where your passion and enthusiasm lies, you can then select a charity that will have far more impact and emotional appeal for you resulting in more meaningful interaction than say just dropping coins in a bucket at the supermarket.
Right, so once you've picked your charitable cause, you need to determine what exactly you can give. Is it financial aid, goods donation or time? It could be some or all of these, depending on your circumstances.
If it's financial, do you want to give to the cause, or do you want to know precisely what your money will be spent on? If the latter is the case, look out for charities that offer sponsorship or "animal adoption" programmes where you get to assist financially in the care of a person or animal, and you should receive regular updates on their progress.
There are also plenty of charities out there - such as the SPCA - that raise funds from selling pre-owned good at their charity shops. Goods donations could also mean purchasing food for welfare charities or books and stationery for educational entities in need. And bear in mind, you also support by buying from these charity shops - and reusing/upcycling is good for the environment. Good feelings all around!
Finally, if you find yourself with a bit of extra time on your hands and you are keen to help out your chosen charity, then there is always work to be done for volunteers. Contact your local charity, tell them what skills you have or where you think you could help out and how often and you'll soon find that the personal satisfaction from volunteering is an incredibly rewarding experience.
Another aspect for you to consider before dolling out the donations is if you want to support a mainstream, big-name charity or a smaller local charity. Supporting a well-known and popular charity means that the pooled funds are more significant allowing these charities to make larger, wide-scale changes, their accounting practices are also usually easier to investigate for transparency (more on this later). However, they will have higher admin and marketing costs, and you may not get the most personal feedback.
On the flip side, smaller charities may only help on a smaller scale. Still, the giving will be more specifically focussed and your help more desperately needed, even if only a few people/animals. Giving to the smaller charities usually means you are going local. And going local is lekker. You get to see your funds help out in the local community and usually, you can organise to actually visit and see where and how your donations are making a difference.
Helping out the local community is how we like to do our charitable giving at Brahman Hills. We have found that, in our case, it is the best place for our support and that we can see the results of our donations making a difference to people in the Midlands. We are a part of the local landscape, and we must make a positive contribution to the community. We support a Muhle's Creche - a local creche in the Midlands - and we run a programme to encourage kids to attend that are not in school as early childhood development is critical for their future. We supply the primary school next to The Windmills Kitchen with water and donate food parcels, nappies, toys, funds and firewood to families in need in the local Nottingham Road community. Giving locally not only helps out those in dire circumstances, but it is also a great way of actually seeing your donations in action.
Although there are scores of charities out there doing a world of good for any number of causes, sadly there are also those villains out there masquerading as do-gooders whilst disappearing with all the loot. So you are going to want to be very careful about making sure the cause you are giving to is 100% legitimate.
According to this article on Fin24, there are several ways to verify the authenticity of charities. Contacting the social development department and searching to see if they are officially registered. Check out their paperwork is all in order by asking them for their NPO/PBO certificate and tax clearance.
The article makes mention of online platforms that are meant to help you select registered charities, such as For Good. Or crowdfunding platforms like Backabuddy, which assists people in establishing a fund for charitable causes. Now, as we said before, we give to our local community, so we've never used any of the online platforms out there, so be sure to do your due diligence before donating.
In the era of social media, it's also worthwhile having a little look at their social media feeds to see if they look genuine. Are there updates, are photos being posted regularly, do they have a legitimate following, what are peoples comments and reviews?
We hope this post helps you to make the best decision on where and how to give to a charity that'll be meaningful both for you and your chosen cause. We also wish you all a very merry Christmas and hope that you enjoy all the kindness, compassion and generosity that this time of year inspires!
Reader’s Digest (2017). Your charity check list: what to consider before choosing a charity. [online] Readersdigest.co.uk. Available here [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].
Ruzicka, A. (2017). How to find a legitimate charity to support. [online] Fin24. Available here [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].
White, M.C. (2018). 5 Expert Tips for Deciding Which Charities to Support This Year. [online] Time. Available here [Accessed 20 Dec. 2019].