Oct 20, 2016

The Causes I Care About

I'm pretty sure I've written about this before, but since Alyssa's linkup topics offer this as an option, I'll get back on my soapbox.

I don't donate to charity nearly as much as I should or would like to.  But, after attending a TEDx event in Philly, I was really struck by the idea one of the speakers, Katherina Rosqueta discussed:

High-Impact Philanthropy

The whole concept is putting your money where it can do the most good.  A lot of us donate when it's convenient or when someone or something reminds us to.  And there is nothing wrong with that!  But I don't think it's any secret that not every charity or nonprofit is created equal.  There are operating costs and not all of them manage those as efficiently as they could.  Some pay their chief officers what I would deem an excessive amount.  And others contribute in ways that aren't as efficient as they could be.

One of the Rosqueta's examples was the food bank.  I'm sure you've participated in a can drive.  We all have.  Did you go out and buy some canned food for it?  As Rosqueta pointed out, had you merely donated that money to the food bank instead of buying a can, which would then need to be transported, the food bank could have acquired much, much more food than the one or two cans you donated.  The food bank has resources we do not, and even access to free food from oversupply and mislabeled products at various grocery stores/vendors, so what they really need is money to cover transportation costs.  Basically they can do a lot more with that money than we can, so it makes far more sense to donate cash rather than pre-purchased food.

The one charity I do donate to monthly (and would advocate!!!) is the Nurse-Family Partnership.  They aim to provide access to nurses for underprivileged (and often underaged) mothers.  This support helps to maintain the mother and child's physical health, mental health, and improves childhood learning outcomes and increases the chances that the child will go on to college and successfully find a career.

I'm all about education, personally, because I feel like that's one way to improve the future, rather than just slapping a band aid on the present, but I understand that everyone has different causes they feel passionate about.  Regardless of what type of issue you want to help out with, I do highly recommend checking out the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, because they have a list of the organizations they feel make the most impact, organized by issue type, with all the research that went into making that conclusion.  Or you could do what my mom did and pick something from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who did their own research to deduce which issues most impact society before deciding where to send their money.

I'm hoping as I continue into my career and earn more money, I can continue to pick charities off the list that appeal to me, but for now there's one other thing I like and would recommend.

Monthly $5 Freebie

Everyone has their own pet charities and I hate to be all stodgy when someone says, "I'm participating in a [walk/5K/bike/etc].  Will anyone help us out?"  I used to agonize over every single on of these instances and sometimes I'd donate and sometimes I wouldn't and it was always a different amount.  Now I give myself $5 a month to spend wherever I want.  A dog down in South Carolina needs surgery?  Sure.  Yeah, if I thought about it logically, I might decide that that $5 would do "more good" going to a shelter that helps lots of dogs, but it called to me and $5 isn't enough that I really need to worry about whether I made the most logical choice for it.

I've donated $5 to ALS, MS, to kickstarters for someone whose house was burned down as a hate crime, someone who needed brain surgery, a funeral for a family member of a friend, and so on.  It feels good to be able to do something even if that something is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

What are your pet charities?  Have you heard of high impact philanthropy and, if not, did I convince you???


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  1. That website is super helpful, thanks! I love the $5 idea too, that's a good way to relieve the stress/decision fatigue. Mine is cause based - I'll donate whatever I feel comfortable with at that moment, but only to organizations that help animals. Not everyone agrees with my harsh line in the sand, but that's what it is. I'd rather help the animals, no exceptions.

  2. I haven't heard of high impact philanthropy but I did know that if you gave a shelter $1 instead of a can that cost $1...they could make it spread further than you could. I am always donating to animal causes that is where my heart is. And the blogging group I run holds 1-2 food drives each year for a local shelter in the area.

  3. the $5 idea is so smart. i only have one charity or cause i donate to monthly, and it's only because i set it up that way and i'm happy to keep it going. i don't do nearly enough research on charities and the like, so i get worried that donating money won't go where i want it to, but that's my fault and i should do more research. i also agree about education vs band aid on the present. very true.

  4. I am definitely going to check out the Center for High Impact Philanthropy website. I want my donations to have the biggest bang too. I never thought about how money would be a better gift than actual food for a food shelter. I should have known this too. I worked at The National MS Society and cash was always king.

    1. Yay! I'm glad people are interested in the high impact center! And yeah, I had certainly never thought about that either until we watched the TED talk.

  5. I love the idea of high impact philanthropy. Thanks for talking more about it.

    I don't donate to charities without doing significant research into them first. And I make it a point every single month, no matter how broke I am, to donate in some way—some months that includes a race registration, goods donation, etc. Usually it's money. I need to get around to writing this post myself because I have a lot to say. But basically, I try to make sure I'm giving to the same handful of causes that are of the greatest importance to me, but not always the same charities. Some months it's more localized, or on theme (I made a domestic violence coalition donation this month in honor of DV awareness month, for example) but it's always something. And when there is a greater need elsewhere, such as during the massive flooding in LA this summer, I make a donation there where there is urgent and visible need.

  6. I hadn't heard of "high impact philanthropy", so I'm glad you shared.

    You asked about pet charities. We got our kitties first, three years ago, from the Animal Welfare League of NSW (the state where we live). So, we've donated to them ever since.

  7. Working for my local SPCA non-profit has really given me a better view of high impact philanthropy. My title is Development and Philanthropy Coordinator and I get to see all the donations come in first hand. It is interesting the people who donate monthly religiously and the ones who specifically make one large donation a year, normally around the holidays. What people don't seem to understand is the money that is coming in is being spend practically immediately. If we get the grunt of our donations at the end of the year we are catching up on bills we had from summer when donations were scarce. It's a really interesting process. I can imagine most charities and non-profits see this kind of fluctuation.

  8. I volunteer with a local rescue organization. I sometimes transport animals to and from the vets office, supervise while they run in the yard, I donate money on occasion but usually I offer my actual services.

  9. This was a really interesting read, I work in non-profit and we will often ask people to specifically donate stuff rather than money so I think it really depends on the organization. My personal philosophy tends to differ a lot from others as I like to keep things as local as possible and prefer to help humans.


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