If you’ve been following the #SmallSteps series, you’ll know there are ways to save up your physical and digital change enough to make donations that will really make a difference. But how do you decide where to give those donations?
Find Your Passion Projects
Passion Projects are the things you care about that closely relate to your personal identity. One example is my long held passion project to make sure no one around me personally has to feel alone in the world. The kind of passion projects you can give to are usually more like supporting animals in need of some sort like through Vet Ranch. I particularly like to give to them because the main animal shelters in my area are all no-kill and have a 100% adoption rate while Vet Ranch is surrounded by overfull shelters that must resort to euthanasia- until Vet Ranch comes in to fix the sick puppies and kitties so they get adopted.
Other examples of passion projects would be supporting a women’s business mentorship group, giving to the political party or campaign you believe in, supporting religious activities or areligious activities you think contribute to the world, art for low income neighborhoods projects, young leaders summit… I could go on and on. Pick something you think makes the world a better place and support it.
Support a Personal Battle
A lot of people give based on what they, or their loved ones, have gone through. This is the main reason why I give to a Lyme charity- I have chronic Lyme disease- and why I give to a food bank- they supported my family at a time when we were dependent on donated food and couldn’t afford to buy it ourselves even with all the coupons in the world. You might be inspired to give to a charity that care for children or the general populace affected by some illness as well. Another options is to give to charities that support minorities and other groups with a disadvantage.
Support Those Services you Use and Appreciate
I think this is the most forgotten category of charities, but a lot of things we use everyday: Firefox, Wikipedia, Charity Navigator, non-profit arts organizations, museums (like the Smithsonians), and others make our lives better for free. I also think that when I have some spare money I like to give a buck or five to places that give me entertainment for free, like my local library or street corner musicians or theaters that have free days or pay-what-you-want days to see their plays or historic houses that have free tour days. I also like to give a token amount to apps that I’ve used for a year or more that are free for the full features, just because I appreciate they aren’t forcing me to buy if I don’t want to.
If all Else Fails, Give How Everyone Else Gives
There’s lots of other people in this world who give money. If you feel overwhelmed by the options available to you, it is an option to just give to the same charities your friend or partner gives to. Or you can decide you really only want to give money to one particular charity, it can be quite helpful to give a big lump sum to just one charity so don’t feel like a failure if that’s the direction you are leaning in.
Where do I give?
I myself give money to a homeless shelter, youth homeless shelter, LymeLight Foundation for chronic Lyme Disease patients, food pantry, and Cru. These particular choices follow causes that are personal and dear to me and fit my identity as a person. Maybe for you a different type of organization would fit your ethos better than these. I think it is worth it to take the time to do a little research about the charities that best fit your identity and passion projects in the world, and do a little more research to make sure you are supporting a charity that is doing what you think it is doing- some famous charities like Wounded Warrior Project or Susan G Komen for The Cure focus more on educating the public on problems and give little, if any, to those in need themselves, which is still a useful thing to do but people often end up disappointed because they mistakenly assumed all charities actually give money to those in need while that is not actually all charities’ goals. No matter what you do, though, be sure to give somewhere and someway. If you need the quick and easy approach to finding a reputable charity that gives to a category you care about check out Charity Navigator– or even give to Charity Navigator itself!