How to make a difference with your giving
13 November 2019
Wanting to give is great, but finding the right way to do it can be tricky. However, once you’ve decided how and to whom you want to donate, you’ll start to see how effective your giving can be. Remember, it’s not about how much you give, it’s about how meaningfully you’re able to do it.
How to choose a charity
Seasoned donors know that it’s about giving with your head as well as your heart.
If you find the sheer number of potential causes overwhelming, think about what’s important to you and find causes that align with that. Picking a cause that speaks to you can take some time, but there are a few things you can do to help:
- Clarify your own values. If you’re a big supporter of animal rights, for example, focus your attention there.
- Define your priorities. Say you want to support animal rights groups, climate change organisations, education causes and refugees. While noble, that could be too many issues to focus on. Deciding what to prioritise can help simplify your choice.
- Look at their mission. Most charities will have a mission or vision statement. If it resonates with you, it’s probably a good match to your values.
- Focus on outcomes. Once you’ve narrowed down your selection you can start to look closer at what your top picks have achieved and how they’ve done it. If you’re excited to be involved, you’ve probably found a great cause to give to.
Watch out for scams
As awful as it sounds, some charities may not be as honest as they first appear. Scammers may try to take advantage of your generosity by posing as a genuine organisation.
Although these scam charities come in many guises, they can be espcecially active after natural disasters or major events, such as floods, fires and cyclones. Scammers have also been known to pose as legitimate charities conducting medical research or supporting refugee families. Luckily, there are some handy tools you can use to check whether the charity you’re considering is above board.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) register is a great resource. Free to use and open to everyone, it’s a quick and easy way to check whether a charity is doing the work it’s claiming to. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Scamwatch can also help to identify scams. The site is regularly updated with reports from around the country.
While doing your research is important, you should also follow your instincts. If you haven’t heard of the charity before, or if you feel the need to investigate it further, trust your gut and dig a little deeper. If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Scamwatch using their report a scam page. You could save other generous donors from falling victim to the scammers’ tactics.
Start small, aim to grow
Now you’ve selected your charity, it’s time to give! But how much should you give? And how can you make sure you’re giving within your means?
Before you leap to giving hundreds per month, think about gradually building up your donation dollars. If you start with a smaller amount—say, around $5 or $10 per month—you’ll easily be able to budget that from your weekly income. Maybe give the equivalent of something you can afford to give up. For example, you could swap one barista-made coffee for a home cuppa once a week and donate the few bucks you save.
The best thing about starting small and working your way up is that you’re more likely to stick with it. Like most things worth doing, it’s not about how much you give, but rather that you start giving.
Look for other opportunities
While giving directly to your chosen charities is effective, there are plenty of other ways to boost your efforts.
Get a team together
Your individual donations can go a long way, but imagine how much a group could achieve.
Team fundraisers can come in a lot of fun shapes and sizes, from sporting challenges to themed trivia nights. If you’ve got a group who care about the same cause as you, it’s the perfect opportunity to boost your total donation.
Involve your work
Many employers are more than happy to support the charities their employees are passionate about. Some employers may even match employee donationss. The next time you try to raise money through a bake sale, raffle or chocolate drive, check with your employer and see how they may like to be involved.
Some larger employers may also be interested in partnering with reputable and value-aligned charities as part of their commitment to corporate social responsibility. If the charity you’re passionate about is aligned with your employer’s vision and mission, it could be the perfect fit for an ongoing partnership.
Volunteer your time
Donating money is great, but genuine care and a helping hand can go a long way to assist someone in need.
If you’re already donating what you can with your wallet, consider giving back with your time. As well as teaching you new skills and growing your network, volunteering your time is a great opportunity to pass your expertise on to others.
Create your giving plan
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