So I’ve been meaning to work on my charity donations for a while now, and I’m only just getting around to it, because sometimes I’m easily-distracted.
But really, this stuff is important. And normally, this isn’t the kind of thing I’d publicize. We don’t do good for the praise of others, and that’s even Biblical (“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them,” Matthew 6:1). So I wasn’t sure I should share this at all. But it occurred to me that if I did, others might be inspired to donate too, or even just become aware of some issues and needs that they weren’t previously aware of. So please read this post in that light.
By the way, I do review my charities to be sure that 1) they’re legit, and 2) that it’s a good use of my money. I’ve found some “charities” which put only a small percentage of their raised funds toward the work they allege to do, spending the vast majority on salaries and fund-raising efforts instead. Um, nope. You can check charities too at www.CharityNavigator.org.
International Justice Mission
I’ve talked a bit about IJM before here, specifically about chocolate and slavery. (And some ways to avoid supporting child slavery when we buy our chocolate.) I actually found IJM while researching historical slavery, and I discovered that it’s a long way from being merely history. And while you haven’t had a chance to read “And Only the Eyes of Children” yet, I can tell you that IJM’s mission is directly relevant, though they don’t work in the USA.
Specifically, IJM fights modern day slavery, because nearly 30 million people are real, actual, bought-and-sold slaves today. That includes both sex trafficking and forced labor. The good news is, it’s illegal in most places and it can be fought, if funds are available to raid slave sites and prosecute in court. IJM also supports the poor against other forms of exploitation, such as being forced off their land.
I hadn’t realized until I was getting my act together that IJM has been given a big opportunity for the month of June, and donations will be matched up to one million dollars. So that kind of puts a deadline on things. I had a really good year in 2013 — thank you! — so I’ll be making my biggest donation to IJM, so they can get the most possible benefit for their fund-matching. There’s no excuse for slavery or exploitation. IJM receives a 4-star Charity Navigator rating, meaning “exceptional” and “exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its Cause.”
World Vision does a lot, everything from sponsoring individual children to working with refugee camps to aiding sex trafficking survivors, but I’m specifically donating to their water program which has built or rehabilitated nearly 9,000 wells to provide clean water for well over two million people in the last three years. This leads directly to a huge reduction in child mortality from water-borne disease.
World Vision says they’re one of the largest suppliers of clean water in the world, but most importantly the local communities keep ownership of the wells and are able to maintain them for years of continued use. And an evaluation of their programs in Ethiopia found that time required to fetch household water decreased in some cases from four hours to about 30 minutes — that’s a lot of time freed up for more profitable enterprise. More than 80% of World Vision’s funds go directly to on-site programs, leaving less than 20% to pay its people and pay for fund-raising.
A lot of people don’t realize that local Humane Societies get no support from the Humane Society of the United States (which is actually one of the poorest-rated charities out there, anyway). A full 100% of the funds for our local HSI come from local contributions, and the facility is able to provide not only a full-service animal shelter (with no euthanasia just for running out of space) but training help and low-cost veterinary care for those who need it.
I was disappointed to find that the local homeless shelter I’d been intending to support did not receive as high an accountability rating now. While that’s an important cause, I want to be sure my money is doing as much good as it can, and I found that Gleaners is a four-star rated charity. Gleaners is a food bank which supplies halfway houses, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, and local food pantries. About one million Hoosiers are “food insecure,” meaning they might go hungry or have to make significant trade-offs to eat. Gleaners tries to fill the gap.
Don’t forget to take some time to donate time or money to good causes!