How do you get involved with a charity you can trust? Someone I know has always insisted that all charities are scammers. I’ve heard other people say they don’t trust charities. These are excuses people use so they can justify not being generous!! People who work for charities are amazing. They have chosen to work for a cause with a lot less pay than if they were working somewhere else. It’s basically a business, for example like a bank, but instead of all the profit going to shareholders and workers, the profit goes to helping people in need. So how do we get involved?
Understand Your Charity Mindset
The media LOVE stories about scams and dodgy charities. On the weekend my son Kale cracked a rotten egg and it STANK! Does it mean that Kale will never eat an egg again because they’re all rotten? No! Instead of reporting on all the good eggs that exist, we mainly hear broadcasts of the rare rotten egg charity. Don’t allow the media or the occasional rotten egg to spoil your view of charities, where many are doing an outstanding job. If you feel sceptical about giving, perhaps ask yourself why that is? Is it because of a negative media story you heard? Also remember that it is A LOT of hard work for charities to get a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Status so that donors receive a tax deduction. Would charities really want to go through all that just so they can scam people?
Understand that Charities Have Bills to Pay
People complain about the charity keeping a percentage of the donations. I bought a bunch of garlic from a farmer. I used the garlic, but saved one bulb and planted the cloves with my little helper. Over several months, one bulb turned in to 20 bulbs! Again, I used up the garlic I had grown, but I saved one garlic bulb and planted it. Because I saved some of my garlic and replanted it, I have garlic growing sustainably in my garden. It’s the same with charities. The money they take out for admin and fundraising is like saving part of the garlic and reinvesting, TO MAKE MORE MONEY, so they can give sustainably. Previously I volunteered for a volunteer run charitable organisation. That charity doesn’t even exist anymore because it’s challenging to run an organisation exclusively with volunteers.
Get to Know Your Chosen Charity
Don’t rely on the media, or on what other people say about charities. We need to take responsibility for educating ourselves, and find out how a charity operates. A relationship you have with a charity is like a relationship you have with a person. If there is a charity that aligns with your values but you don’t know much about them, get to know them! If I wanted to know what someone was like, I wouldn’t just accept what the media says about them as gospel truth. I would spend time with them, have conversations, ask questions and judge for myself what I think they’re like.
Visit Your Charity
In January 2017 I visited World Vision’s Child Rescue projects in Cambodia and discovered they were doing an incredible job of helping street kids. You can read more about it HERE. I also learned that World Vision has a new CEO, Claire Rogers, who was previously the online banking guru for ANZ. A bank and a charity- a match made in heaven! If you want to support an overseas charity or sponsor a child, why not tee up a visit with your next holiday or work trip? Or support charitable organisations while you’re on holiday. In Cambodia we ate at restaurants that helped people in need, and some of my friends had massages by blind people to support them financially.
Donate to Your Charity
If you don’t like the idea of money leaving Australia, then give to an Australian charity. 10% from bookings from my music business goes to Shalom House Rehabilitation Centre. It’s run by Peter Lyndon-James, who has tried every drug and been in every jail in WA. Now Pete gives his life to help other men overcome addiction. I have just read Pete’s book Tough Love which is a practical manual on what to do if a loved one is addicted to drugs.
Sometimes my family visit the Family Night at Shalom House on Saturday evenings. Each week a fella shares about how their life has changed since living at Shalom House. Often their parents will share about how they have their son back again. It’s very moving. Everybody contributes to a pot luck dinner and the men in the program can share a meal with their family. We know where the money is going and are proud to be a part of it.
Make the effort and make a difference
So if you want to make a difference, I would encourage you to make the effort to get to know the charity you’d like to support. Build that trust and relationship through the phone, email, meeting, visiting, volunteering and just make it happen. And now if there is a charity in a shopping mall asking me for money, I have no problem saying ‘no thank you’ without feeling guilty, because I know I’m doing my bit. It is honestly the best feeling in the world to know that you are doing your part to make a difference!