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10 tips to choose a worthy charity


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By Kimi Anderson, founder of TravelGiver.

In my opinion, it’s important to donate to charity and help others, as we should all know by now that we cannot rely on governments to fix the world’s problems.

I try to help others where possible for a number of reasons: I feel really fortunate in life and want to give back, it makes me happier about myself and the world, I want to create a better place and future for my daughter to live in, and I want to teach her about kindness and giving.

Over the years, I’ve supported big organisations such as Greenpeace, World Vision and Salvation Army, and also other smaller charities via their annual events. Nowadays, I try to support a much wider range of charities and incorporate giving into my everyday life. This might mean purchasing food for the local homeless, supporting the bigger organisations from time to time, participating in fundraisers, giving my time to others who are looking to set up social enterprises, and supporting a range of NGO projects listed on my site, TravelGiver.

Personally, I have given the most in Cambodia because I was so touched by the country when I first visited there in 2009 and have been back several times since to visit a few of them in person.

I spent many hours trawling through suitable charity projects to partner with when I set up a socially conscious travel site, TravelGiver, a year ago. The way my site works is that people considering travelling first choose their preferred a booking agent (such as Contiki, Intrepid Travel, Hertz, Accor, and more), and then select from one of hundreds of ethical grass roots initiatives worldwide that assist communities in need. A donation of up to eight per cent of your travel booking is made to your chosen charity at no extra cost to you.

While I don’t want to compare the work of different charities, I personally feel a bigger connection supporting the smaller grass roots and local initiatives as I feel my small contributions help to make a much larger difference. With access to information on the web, and through sites like TravelGiver, it is so easy to follow their progress.

What percentage of a wage a person should donate is really up to the individual as everyone has different financial commitments. It’s not really about how much one gives, but more about making sure you are giving to a good cause and giving with an open heart. Helping others should be a conscious decision we all make. While I often wish I could give more, I always remind myself (and others) that every little bit helps. Even if someone is not in a position to make a financial donation, people can always opt to volunteer their time and skills and get behind specific causes or projects online without spending any extra money.

At TravelGiver today, we have over 300 charity projects in 50 countries to choose from, and of course picking the right charities to partner with is paramount for us.

Here are my top ten tips for choosing a worthy charity, which I always stick to, and I hope will help to steer you in the right direction to giving greatness!

1. Choose a category that is of interest to you and that has synergies with your lifestyle at home. For example, if you have children, choose a charity/project that focuses on education. If you know someone struggling with their health, choose a health related one or if you are passionate about preserving the environment, choose an environmental one. Giving is a great way to express your passions and values.

2. Choose a country that you feel a personal connection with. You may live there, have travelled there in the past or be planning to go there one day. Giving is not just about writing a cheque, it’s also about caring and is a great way to connect with the global community.

3. Research and quantify the value of your contribution. Have an understanding of what your funds will be used for and how far they will go.

4. Look for a project that has an online presence so that you can share your chosen charity with your friends and family. Once they see you doing something, you may inspire them to act as well.

5. Look for a project that provides ongoing updates (i.e. Facebook page, eNewsletter) so that you can stay up to date with the work they are doing.

6. Research the project thoroughly online. Look for testimonials, reviews, past annual reports and so on. You will want to find a project that is transparent with their funding and can demonstrate the work they do at a grass roots level.

7. Look for the projects that can offer tax-deductible receipts. This not only allows you to give more, it often means that they have undergone rigorous due diligence by the relevant authorities.

8. If you are interested in getting more involved, have a look at what other contribution you can make other than just financial donations. For example, if you wanted to collect books and send them across, will they accept them? Do they facilitate written correspondence if you are sponsoring a child?

9. If you are interested in volunteering and giving your time, research thoroughly the local conditions and what is expected once you are there. The book Unsung Heroes (www.unsungheroes.net.au) is a great collection of short stories about extraordinary people and projects that are making a difference in Cambodia. It also has some great tips and resources for people looking to volunteer abroad.

10. If you need inspiration to get started, listen a Podcast by Giving Warriors (www.givingwarriors.com) or subscribe to free eNewsletters like Get Up (www.getup.org.au), Daily Good (www.dailygood.org) or UpWorthy (www.upworthy.com). They are filled with newsworthy, uplifting and topical stories that will be sure to give you some ideas.