Although Christmas is meant to be a time for giving, peace and reflection, unfortunately the reality is often far from it. Between the flurry of social events, the pressure of keeping family happy and the stress of finishing tasks at work before the holidays, there’s barely enough time to even think about giving back to a cause that is close to your heart.
So how, in a time where there appears to be more charities and causes than people, do we make the decision about where to donate our hard-earned money at this time of year? We believe that there are a few factors to consider that can help make your decision the right one. Here’s where to start.
Know where your money is going
We’re often very quick to hand over money to a charity or cause without having the faintest idea where it is going and how it will help. Before you make a donation, particularly if it’s a significant amount of money, be sure to research the organisation thoroughly, and ask any questions you might have if the answer isn’t immediately available.
Though most registered charities in Australia follow the strict guidelines of the National Charities and Not-For Profits Commission (ACNC), the regulatory body for the non-profit sector, with a bit of research you may find that the organisation you wish to support has higher than normal administrative costs. We’ve found that smaller charities often have a greater ratio of impact to donations received, meaning your donation is more likely to have a more direct impact on the cause.
Choose a cause with visible impact
Along with knowing where your money is going, it’s equally important to understand what impact it’s actually having on the cause. When deciding where to make a donation, it’s a good idea to choose a charity that shares the impact of its donations with its donors. Taking a look at the organisation’s website, social media channels and annual report should give you a good indication of this.
This doesn’t necessarily mean choosing an organisation that is solving the world’s problems or even directly achieving their own vision. Some charities are working to solve extremely complex problems, and their progress may be harder to quantify. It does however mean choosing an organisation that is honest about the work they are doing and sharing their progress with their valued donors.
Does the organisation you’re considering donating to put sustainability at the forefront of their work? If not, your donation may have a greater, more lasting impact in an organisation that does. Though providing immediate relief for people, animals and the earth is incredibly important, it’s equally important to understand what efforts organisations are taking to provide long-term solutions to a problem. Providing a well to a developing community can have a significant short-term impact, but what happens when the well breaks or runs out of water? Your donation, in this instance, would have been better placed in an organisation that equips developing communities with the skills to build and repair their own water supplies.
When researching charities that work in development, try to find out how they are contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The SDGs intend to mobilise efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. You can find out how Palms Australia is working to achieve the SDGs here.
If you’re still not sure, we encourage you to read about the work Palms Australia is doing in remote developing communities around the world, and make a much-needed donation.