Head or Heart while donating?

Is your heart leading you astray? Here’s how you make better donation decisions!

We’ve found that donors all have the heart part down. Many of you set aside money at different points of the year or respond to phone calls, letters and emails from people you know. Media articles highlighting someone’s plight leads many people to open cheque books.

But is your heart leading you astray? It might be causing you to respond positively to a well-designed flyer or a smooth-talking salesperson. Is it actually the best use of your money?

Here’s how you help your heart work together with your head while donating!

  • What’s important isn’t always obvious: This is a case of emotional appeals leading one astray. It’s hard to say no to medical treatment requests. But donating even a part of the costs of an expensive surgery can help a deserving student get access to a good education, and hopefully a good job through which s/he can become financially independent. Your scholarship donation will take more time to show results, but when it does, it will help a whole family who benefits from having a wage owner.
  • Plan your giving: The feeling of being able to help someone in need is very humbling. You may be tempted to give every time someone reaches out to you for money. However, what will happen is that you will donate random amounts depends on what is being asked. You may miss out on the fulfilment of finding a cause or project that you connect with personally. Many of our donors are looking to give another person the advantages they had, whether in terms of education, job skills or access. If you find value in the idea of vocational training or medical treatments or animal welfare, make a note to find good donation options in that area. As time goes by, you can increase or decrease your donation amount once you understand the costs involved.
  • Look who’s talking: NGOs with good marketers tend to get more donations thanks to the strength of their communications. Other high impact NGOs who cannot afford marketing or advertising get left out because there is no one to carry their message across. Try looking beyond the biggest names in the sector. There are smaller organisations doing wonderful work you may not have heard of. Look for HelpYourNGO’s recommended NGOs (they have an R next to their name) for organisations we particularly like.
  • Good programmes take time: The benefit of training women to manage finances in a self-help group (SHG) is hard to explain on paper. However, when done well, this programme will help women access credit, financial products and build up savings of her own. Screening camps cost money to organise, but bring lots of people closer to preventive care before they are struck by disease. Early diagnosis will help them get to a doctor more easily. You may feel like you are donating to a very vague objective. Have the NGO explain the long-term benefits of the programme to you if it sounds very random. You can ask for a field visit too to see what the work looks like on the ground. It will help you make a better decision.

With these small tips in mind, you may be able to organise your donations better. You will no longer be tied to donating to the charity you saw an ad to online, or dropping some notes into a donation box after feeling guilty of overspending. Head and heart working together can be a wonderful thing indeed!

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