Before making a donation be sure to consider these key factors to assure your money is helping how and where you want it to.
Giving is a wonderful thing!
It makes us feel good. Makes us feel like we’re doing something to help. When we give strategically our gift also makes a big difference. But how do we do that?
There are so many causes reaching out for help. Who do we choose? How do we know who is legitimate and who’s not? Out of this confusion what some people do is give to the big organizations, trusting… because they’ve been around for a long time, that they must be doing it right, right? After all, it’s hard to know if the smaller, less-well-known organizations are legitimate or just making money for themselves.
Over the past six years we’ve been involved in the nonprofit world looking for those really doing good for Africa’s wildlife. By a bit of trial and error… and just by being involved, we’ve learned a few things. These five considerations seem to hold true whether you’re passionate about saving Africa’s endangered Wildlife or Street Children in India. A bit of targeted online research may be involved, but most of all being true to your personal values is important.
So, before making a donation please consider these five factors to assure your money is helping how and where you want it to.
The 5 Top Considerations Before Making a Donation
ONE: Organization’s values
Like people, organizations have values. Some of these are expressed in their mission or vision statement, however, some are not and these are the ones you’ll want to be aware of. For example, Bradley a former avid supporter of World Wildlife Fund made an unpleasant discovery one day… that WWF supports sport and trophy hunting, which he is adamantly against.
Early on we made a donation to an anti-poaching team and found out later that the organization behind them were key players in the pro rhino horn trade debate… oops! A mistake, as we are against legalizing the trade of rhino horns.
Before making a donation be sure the organization is aligned with your values, just because they are seemingly doing good doesn’t mean at the core they have the same principles or ideals as you do. For example, breeding of lions has nothing to do with wildlife conservation, it’s about the insidious cub petting and massive canned trophy hunting industry. What about the captive breeding of cheetah, is that wildlife conservation? Bottom line, know where you stand and then be sure the organization is in alignment with you.
TWO: Money off the top
Not all your money goes to help. In most nonprofit organizations a percentage of your donation goes toward administrative expenses and to pay salaries. According to Charity Navigator (an American leading charity evaluator) 7 out of 10 charities use up to 25% of donations received on expenses. A few use as much as 35%! That means, only $65 of your $100 donation actually goes to help!
This skimming off the top appalled us. When we founded Nikela in April 2010 we made the solemn commitment to structure things differently so that 100% of your donation goes to the project, people and wildlife you want to help.
Before making a donation to a seemingly awesome cause, be sure to find out how much of your gift is actually going where you want it to.
THREE: Direct impact
Helping in real time. When you make a donation today is it going to meet an immediate need? How connected to the real problem is the organization? How many layers are there between you, the donor, and the recipient at the other end? Most larger organizations are multi layered like most any other corporation, this removes you significantly from the one in need.
When was the last time you had a direct report from the founder of the organization about where your gift went and what difference it made?
At Nikela, Russ (my husband) and I personally meet with every person (founder, director) of the organization/project we invite you to join us in supporting. We see their work and share what we find with you via direct email, stories and videos. You get to see them up close and personal.
Ellen with the Tikki Hywood Trust said they’d never had anyone reporting on their work take such a personal approach. We keep you informed like when Jess hand delivered a donation check to Shannon to help her birds of prey. Then later we visit with Shannon and got a tour of the forever home built for the Bearded Lady at the sanctuary.
Before making a donation determine the direct impact and ongoing connection you’ll have.
FOUR: Part of the team
Join the community of givers. Most of us ordinary folk can’t make much of a difference alone. However, when we join forces for a good cause we definitely can. Large organizations get huge gifts from their wealthy and corporate sponsors. For them our little donation is much like spitting in the ocean, however, with smaller organizations $10 can help Moses grab an endangered pangolin from the wildlife trafficking trade. Or help Baye buy a few liters of fuel to go out on another wildlife rescue mission. Or help Marnus save another lion from human wildlife conflict. Your contrition makes you very literally become part of the team that makes good things happen.
Before making a donation consider how important being part of the team is to you.
FIVE: Tomorrow is another day
Sustainability is key. Making a onetime donation is appreciated every time, however, those most valued are the visionary donors who understand that after today comes tomorrow. Baby monkeys need food and medical attention from the time they arrive at Silke’s rescue and rehabilitation center until the day they are released in a troop two or three years later. Then there’s Lynn who with her team of Ranger Scouts has brought the elephants back to the Thuma Forest in Malawi. Now other wildlife is returning as they realize it is once again a safe place.
Before making a donation please consider your situation and how you can make a sustainable contribution on a monthly basis to maximize your impact.
Follow your heart and choose a cause… then find the organization that best aligns with your values. After that consider making a donation on a monthly basis and watch what happens.
Want to join us helping people saving wildlife?
100% of your gift will go to save wildlife.