By: Caitlin Chandler
It’s that time of the year when you’re likely thinking about which organizations to donate to and also deluged with requests to give. At Torchlight, many of us have been on both sides of the giving spectrum - working as donors giving money and as nonprofits requesting donations.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you figure out where to make gifts ~ if you’re in a position to ~ because as long as we live under capitalism, we may as well spread the wealth!
Charity ratings are not everything. Sites like Charity Navigator and Give Well can be helpful in assessing how effective nonprofits are and giving a general overview of an organization. But just because an organization has a low overhead or salary line does not mean it’s necessarily more effective. It depends on the kind of work the organization is doing - for instance, an advocacy organization may rely on people to do its work and need significant resources to do so. There are also smaller organizations doing important work that are often left out of these rankings.
A donation to a community-based and/or youth-organization can make a big difference. It makes sense that you may want to donate to a large organization that is delivering humanitarian aid or working to provide sexual and reproductive health services globally. But keep in mind many people give to these organizations. Community-based and youth organizations - including networks of refugees and/or migrants, homeless youth, youth who sell sex, LGBTQ youth, and other marginalized groups - do not have the systems to create mass fundraising campaigns or do public relations. They may not even have a nice website! However, they do critical work, often struggle for funding and could use support this time of year. You may need to ask around to find them, but we are always happy to refer you to resource people for your country and/or community!
Consider short term vs long term. Similar to an investment, how would you like to split your giving? You may want to prioritize a current crisis - people in need of food, shelter, medicine and basic protection. Or you may want to fund work that seeks to challenge power systems and create a more equitable world - such as through human rights monitoring, advocacy, journalism, mass mobilization, legal reform and more. And of course - you can always divide your funds between the two.
It’s not just about the money, honey. There are many ways to give that don’t involve financial contributions. You can also use this time of the year to reflect on what involvement in social change looks like to you - and plan how to elevate your engagement in 2019. This could include anything from ongoing mentorship of a youth organization, voter registration and turnout, running for office, taking up a seat on a Board of Directors, marching in the streets and more.