Meaningful giving


Just a second before you head out for last minute crazy Christmas shopping or click away into your online cart. I would like to suggest an alternative to consider. 

I learned so many things during my time working for The Peace Agency, a remarkable NPO doing excellent work in saving and transforming lives. One of which seems so obvious now, but I never thought about before then. I worked with children’s homes, schools and places of safety and at each place I heard the same. It’s not that people do not want to help or donate to these places, but so often donations and gifts are not in line with their needs. What good is a box of cookies and sweets if your freezer is empty? What good are more toys when you don’t have soap and sanitary products, more Christmas decorations if you can’t pay the electricity bill or salaries? Giving is great but giving in line with a need is meaningful. 
Perhaps you have already realised that getting another kitchen gadget or pretty thing to hang in your home or around yourself might not bring you as much joy as the adverts promise. Giving something to somebody who needs it, will outlive getting something nice by far! If you do decide to take some of your Christmas budget (which you are bound to break in any-case) and donate it towards a good cause, please make sure that they actually need what you give. 
Here are some tips to if you are going to reconsider the way you give. 
Change your own wish-list.
So how about taking that fancy fruit blending device off your Christmas wish-list  (Grab an apple for goodness sake!) and tell your loved ones you would like them to donate to your charity of choice as their gift to you. 
Find a charity that is doing what you wish to see done. 
Whether it is rescuing pugs or penguins, teaching chess to trial awaiting juveniles, feeding the homeless or helping talented youths enter the job market or afford higher education, choose a charity that makes your heart beat a bit faster. Take a look at the South African NGO Network’s feature of profiles of reputable local charities. to help you identify an organisation. I listed a few of my favourites at:
Find out what they need. 
Before you drop off your old clothes, just check in with the organisation to hear if they need it. Most NGOs have a wish-list on their website. Make sure you donate in line with what they need, not what you think they might like.  
(Reliable) cash is king.
Most charities prefer a financial contribution to help make ends meet. A year-long debit order is much more helpful to an NGO than a once-off contribution. It helps them budget. Perhaps your monthly contribution will allow a children’s home to add more protein to their monthly shopping list next year to help children grow, or pay for math or ballet lessons or appoint another pair of much needed hands.
I’m going to try and spread some kindness this Festive season, hope you will join. Remember you can maximize the impact by giving in line with the needs of those you care for. 
Merry celebrating!

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