Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ways to Give to Those Who Share Your Planet

Helping Hands
(Image credit: Erin Bowley)

'Tis The Season... Two of my readers have been asking me by email where they could donate this holiday season. One of them is a student who is donating $25. But she's a smart reader. Where can she best give it, she asked? Who could she give her money to where it would make a real difference.

While any of the links I have on my Marzie's Favorite Links page (which is on the page list right below the blog title) are great in my mind, maybe you have other interests. I'm mindful of the fact that I've seen friends donate to organizations that serve their passion but that don't have the best reputations, even though they may have a pretty high profile. So what's a person to do? Research.

I have added, at the bottom of my favorite links page, some information about wise giving. When  you give wisely, you know where your dollars are likely to go. If percentages as large as 15-20% of every dollar you give are going to raise more money, and another 5-10% or even 12-15% of your dollar is going to administrative costs, what are they doing with the rest of that 65%? Are they spending that wisely? Hmmmm. 

You can check out how your favorite charities rate with the links to three organizations that review charitable and non-governmental organizations. Those links are at the bottom of the Marzie's Favorite Links page, along with some graphical information about where money goes. Sometimes you may find disagreement between the rating organizations. For instance Doctors Without Borders has lost its accredited rating from the Better Business Bureau's Give.org while it still enjoys a four star reputation with Charity Navigator. The former gives clear reasons as to why the organization has lost the BBB recommendation, including a Chairman of the Board of Directors who is directly compensated as a staff member and unclear marketing schemes for CDs that are to benefit DWB. With only 2% of their income going to administrative costs, perhaps you can let the fact that their Chairman is getting some of your money slide. But what is up with 12% of every dollar going to raise more money? Still, you're looking at 86¢ on every dollar going to programs. That's pretty good, actually.

But, let's say that in a year with a tight economy you don't have a lot of cash to spare. Or say, you're 14 and you're motivated to do some good. What are things that you can do to give without a direct cost to yourself?

One of my favorite sites is FreeRice.com, which benefits the World Food Programme. It's fun, it's easy (well, sometimes!) and every correct answer buys rice. The subjects (see menu at top of the page) aren't just limited to vocabulary. You can do geography, art, chemistry, and all kinds of stuff. It's great when you're on hold on the phone. I put a FreeRice banner in my sidebar, so it's easy to get to for you. FreeRice has a Yahoo-based toolbar search engine, too. Using it will allow further contributions, up to 5000 grains per day.

You can also use the search engine portal, iGive.com to help give back to charities of your interest. Every time you search, or if you purchase, you may be making a small contribution back to a charity of your choosing if you use this shoppers search engine. They work with a large variety of online retailers, including AbeBooks, Amazon, Apple, just among the A's I saw on the site.

If you're a pet lover, you might want to check out The Animal Rescue Site which has a click and donate option for donation of pet food.

In fact, if you have a few minutes, you can check out One Click at a Time to see a selection of agencies that have click to donate features in place.

And if you know of any easy, quick ways like those above that readers can use to contribute to good causes, please, share them.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2010

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