Donations are gifts that individuals or corporate organizations offer, usually for charitable purposes or the benefit of a particular cause. The practice of charity means voluntary assistance to those who need it.
Donations are one of the greatest opportunity in life for you to express who you are in relation to people in your surroundings. For example, when you walk towards a beggar and ignore his extended hand for charity, it makes a personal statement about you, how you feel about the beggar and what he is doing. We pass judgment on the situation based on our perceptions about which assistance is being sought. There would be very few of us who can give, even if it were just a few words of encouragement.
Food or Knowledge Donations?
My personal view is that I’d rather like to teach a man to fish than to feed him. In other words, if I could choose between a volunteer who will fish and offer the beggar his catch and one who teaches him to fish; I’d choose one who will teach him how to survive.
The beggar will not like learning to fish if his immediate need is to satisfy his hunger. Now the money given to beggars cannot solve the issue of hunger, especially if money is needed to buy drugs or something else.
We’ve all heard about programs to help the needy which are corrupt. The funds allocated to these groups or individuals are directed to their pockets, and the people in need do not benefit from these donations. The issue of trust springs up, but more importantly, the burning desire to help the needy is still unquenchable
Who gives the greater gift, the one who needs to give or the one who needs to be given? (Of course, the one who needs to be given). In times of crisis, good spirited individuals and corporate organizations, especially in the developed economies of the world, have an immediate reaction of wanting to give and the desire to help. This is a very good thing, and one of the things that make our world a better place.
When the Haiti earthquake hit, people everywhere were organizing drives of various types to get some relief on its way.
The Rules of Donations
Ok, so here is how you G.I.V.E. correctly:
- GOODS – Donations of clothes and other relief materials are good if and when done in the right way.
- INCOME – Giving out money or making cash donations is the most effective way to help, but there are things you need to know.
- VOLUNTEERS – Some disasters could use some helping hands on the ground, but others don’t.
- EXPERTISE – Enabling victims to return to their previous lives
A further explanation of the acronyms:
Many people are keen to make goods donations of their own, especially if they live in the local vicinity of an occurring crisis. If one’s house gets burnt and the family loses everything, the neighbors usually bring clothes or household items to help the family get back on track.
The more local a catastrophe is, the more useful the donation of goods becomes. However, in cases of disasters or major catastrophes happening farther away, donating tangible objects is not a good idea. Those goods would have to be shipped, checked and sorted, which would cost a significant amount. Therefore, during the process of sending old jeans to the middle of the continent, for instance, they end up accumulating more cost than a brand new pair would.
The best way to provide physical relief materials is through local organizations that are created to manage them, use them for local disasters and sell them to raise money for other purposes.
Regarding disaster relief, money is king. With cash donations, aid organizations can identify the exact type and amount of items they need for a particular catastrophe and purchase accordingly. Money can be used to provide various aids, including water, food, and drugs, and is not limited to items that are required initially.
One fact to beware, however, is the fact that after every major catastrophe, fraudsters come crawling from their crevices, trying to scheme and rip off good-hearted donors. If you follow certain precautions, you can be sure your money will get to the right people. First, simply make donations to a recognized charity organization and to those who will use the money for the purpose outlined. The most popular organization is the American Red Cross.
One neighbor helping another is one of our biggest civic responsibilities. Nothing comes close to having an extra set of eyes, arms or shoulders when it comes to disaster recovery. However, just like relief materials, there are certain ways to offer volunteer services.
It is imperative not to rush to the scene of an active disaster, unless as part of a local emergency management agency. People who appear at the scene of incidents are called “Convergence Volunteers” and, if they are too many, they can be an obstruction to an emergency response.
The concept of volunteers creates the mental image of people making walls of sandbags for flood protection, clearing rubbles and other physical services. However, after a major catastrophe, the needs of victims fall into many categories, only a few of which may benefit from physical aid.
For example, during any phase of recovery after the event, the victims will need help for insurance, taxes, unemployment issues, state subsidies, and all stages of treating legitimacy related to injury or death. If you are faced with any of these things in your professional life, you will be highly regarded as a volunteer.
In conclusion, the main thing to consider when deciding on who to give your money or relief materials to is to find out how much actually arrives in the hands of people in need. Every group needs money for administration but make sure that the majority of your donations is going where it is supposed to go.