Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Misplaced Charity - What's the right way to give?

This morning I woke to find some conversations on the internet regarding aid and Nepal in particular. There was also this:

on my Facebook page - something that was mirrored by many other well meaning organisations and charities. There were also people saying that aid is not necessary and talked about how, with 'charity beginning at home' or India and space probes, nuclear power and the like we should, 'Leave them to it!"

Now this is tosh but there's so much of it I thought I'd try to help see the wood from the trees so to speak, so here goes:

So, what's the first rule?
The first rule is simple, in fact it's so simple it isn't even the first rule!

Check the credentials and the experience of the organisation your money, if you choose to send money, will be going to. 

Christian Aid - is an organisation I know and trust - click the link to see their disaster 
                        response for Nepal - but to be honest, I think the better port of call  is:

DEC - Thirteen well known names under one label* (Including Christian Aid). This is your 
           'one stop shop' when problems occur. Click on the link and you will see that with their 
            appeals they are truly ubiquitous.

And the second rule?
Sill simple (but I'm going to shout) - DO NOT start collecting loads of blankets, woollens and other used stuff to send over to the 'poor cold and starving' masses. There are many reasons for this, a few being:

i. The cost of getting it there burns up more cash than buying the stuff new from local sources (like India or China) - better to donate money and leave the actual needs to be met and directed by people on the ground who know what is needed where and can get it done more efficiently and get 'more bang for your bucks!'

ii. Having got all the old stuff out to the place where the need is it becomes a pain because it needs to be sorted, sifted and (if my experience of this is common) then binned there as unusable - and the stuff has taken up manpower, storage and been a distraction away from the real work (so that would make it a well-meaning curse then I guess?).

iii. BUT, if you do suddenly find yourself inundated with cuddly toys (never understand this), pollens and other stuff - have a sale (getting the people to bring their good stuff that others might like - not their garage clearance rubbish) and send the money to the aid organisation you have decided on. Stuff that's left can go to charity shops (but be careful - many refuse the remnants of a church finely crafted antique (i.e. Junk) sale) or to ragging or used clothes buyers. The rest will yours (so act wisely at the start - be selective).

And the final rule (being a trinitarian):

Rule the third
I have found a few places looking for like minded and caring sorts to 'get out there' and lend a hand. The simple answer is 'STAY PUT' unless you are part of the rescue services (in which case there are 'chain of command' opportunities for you to volunteer) or are a trained medical type (in which case contact the charities before you do anything like booking a ticket or visiting Blacks for your ice pick!).

The past few disasters have been hindered more than helped by the growing population of 'disaster sightseers'  who turn up and generally get in the way. I met one last year, had a jacket with the disasters he'd done - Haiti (tick), Japan (tick) - but got turned down when he arrived in India. Was allowed in but told to keep away from the sharp end!

Please don't sponsor anyone to go out to help unless you have confirmation that they are part of a bona fide charity (and contact the charity - I've been conned like that before).

I hope this is of some help in the morass of information out there at the moment.

* The Disasters Emergency Committee draws together thirteen British charities to meet need in times of international crisis. The charities they represent are:  Action Aid - Age International - the (British) Red Cross - CAFOD - Care International - Christian Aid - Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, OXFAM, Plan UK, Sve the Children, Tearfund - World Vision

1 comment:

DrJG said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I have friends in Kathmandu, one of whom works at one of the teaching hospitals so has been in the thick of it. My first thought was to send money to their rather wonderful church, who I know will be heavily involved in supporting those in the hospital. But my friend has advised to donate the the Baptist Missionary Society, who work with the United Mission to Nepal, as she thinks they will make the most efficient use of it (and get gift-aid for us taxpayers too.) Were it not for this link, I would give to DEC, or World Vision, who I know also have workers "One the ground".

And, suspicious of politics as I may be, I am proud of our government for its quick financial response. Respect where it is due.