It's the season of giving; giving our time to be with loved ones, giving gifts to friends, and giving back to those who need it most. It's the time of year that the most is donated to charities around the world and we all feel a little bit better know that we've helped someone in need. And while I 100% believe in giving to worthy causes and helping out those who need it most, I also believe in knowing who you are giving to. There are a lot of problems that come with giving to charities blindly. This Christmas I want you to be able to give to amazing charities and know that you're money is going where you believe it is and that it's really making a difference.
Good Intentions Aren't Good Enough
Here's the thing, we all have good intentions. We want to help others so we donate our clothes seasonally to GoodWill, we give money to charities we've heard of but know nothing else about and we try to give a few bucks to the homeless on the corner of our street when we can. While these all seem like great things they are really just good intentions more than they are doing real good. In each of these scenarios, there are major repercussions. While I do donate to Goodwill when I'm getting rid of clothes, I try not to buy clothes I know I won't wear or will only wear for a season so that the fast fashion we come to love causes more problems in our world. (The slow decay of clothes, the dyes polluting water and the majority of them are shipped to developing countries).
When it comes to donating to charities is key to know a lot about the charities. Understanding where the money goes, how it's spread out through the organization and how it's used on the ground. Making sure that the organization works with locals so that they aren't disrupting any customs. I prefer to find organizations that I've worked with first hand or have known someone who has worked at to ensure that they're helping and not hurting. Working with the locals is so important so that the work done will actually benefit them. One example of unhelpful charity was when an organization built a well for some women so they didn't have to walk so far to fetch water for their families. However, the women liked walking to get water so that they could gossip and get away from the men. Because of this the well that many had donated towards, was never used.
The reason we donate to charities every year for Christmas is to help others. We may never know those people but we donate in spite of that. However, when you have the chance to know the people you are helping it makes all the difference. Working with a local organization or any that you get the chance to work with personally will make all the difference in how you donate to them. It becomes so much more personal and will mean even more to you!
Invest Don't Just Donate
While getting the end of the year donations is a great gift for many organizations they're hard to depend on. And now that I work at a non-profit I see the struggle of trying to raise the end of the year funds. However, when you can give on a monthly basis throughout the year, it allows an organization to better plan. It's the year-round donations that make a huge difference for any organization. I, of course, understand being on a tight budget, if you can't give monthly then the year-end gift is still appreciated.
Where To Give
International Justice Mission: An organization that helps children escape the world of trafficking. They are a Christian based organization and have helped many 20 million+ people escape a life of violence.
WORI Uganda: The Women's Rights Initiative in Uganda is the only organization of it's kind, and one I've personally worked with. WORI is helping women fight domestic violence and learn their rights. Uganda has one of the highest domestic violence occurrences in the world with very little ways to help. Currently, WORI is building the first-ever women's safe house in Eastern Africa.
Art From Ashes: A nonprofit in Denver, CO, that empowers struggling youth by providing creative programs that facilitate health and hope through expression.
Save The Elephants: Securing a future for elephants and sustaining the beauty and ecological integrity of the places where they live.
Shop With A Cause
If you can't find an organization you want to commit to or one that speaks to what you are passionate about, there is always shopping for a cause. Buy your Christmas gifts from one of these companies and have the ability to give more than just to your friends and families.
TOMS: For every shoe you buy, a shoe is donated to a child in a developing country (Don't worry it's not the exact same shoe you buy). When you buy a pair of glasses, they'll donate sight to someone who can't afford it and when you buy their coffee they provide clean water.
31bits: Handmade jewelry by women around the world. They give artisans dignified job opportunities by making products that women would buy (and love!)
Krochet Kids: They provide life-changing job opportunities to women in need. With each purchase you make we introduce you to the woman who made your product and invite you to visit her online profile to learn more about her.
Warby Parker: Over 3 million pairs of glasses have been distributed through their buy a pair, give a pair program. When you get a pair of Warby Parkers you're also helping someone else see the world too!
Learn more about the realities of charity from the talk I gave a few years back.