Its Spring Day & with that, a time for Spring Cleaning & giving back!

But helping people & giving back can be harder than it looks.

People rarely give money (or things) away as intelligently as they make it, and frankly, much charitable giving isn’t very effective. The good news is that experts are gaining a much better understanding of how to make an impact.

Researchers are developing new evidence-based approaches, and more charities are staring to measure and track their results, so there is an emerging science of how best to make a difference. Anyone can now harness this science and be reasonably confident that donations are having an impact.

It’s also much more feasible today, through the Internet, to see the impact of your contributions, because a wave of social entrepreneurs have built organisations that act as bridges between donors and beneficiaries.

There has been a flowering of organisations that bridge the gap between those who want to help and those who need help. The online spaces acts like a dating site for charities & lets you find a particular beneficiary to support with goods, time or money.


If you really want to give effectively, here’s 6 suggestions:

Find an issue that draws you in and research it. If you’re looking for a cause or an organisation, you can get ideas at FOR GOOD. Once you’ve found an organisation you like, check the Internet for ratings, reviews and critiques of its work. Treat making a gift as seriously as you would making a big purchase.

Narrow your giving. It’s more efficient, for you and for the causes you support, if you donate to five organisations each year rather than 75. Your time and money will go further, you’re more likely to understand what those five groups do and they may become long-term relationships.

Look for verifiable impact. How many people does the charity help? Does it cite metrics of success? Does it cite outside evaluations or comments by scholars or journalists that can be verified on the Web? When an organisation doesn’t back up its claims and relies on vague feel-good anecdotes, it’s probably because that’s all it has to offer.

Volunteer, get involved, or do something more than just writing checks. Think about the skills and passions you have and how they could be put to good use. Browse the volunteering opportunities on the web. Organisations have sprouted to help people address social needs, too. BETTER SA connects people with expertise to initiatives that can benefit from their skills.

Start an informal giving club to get together with friends and make donations or volunteer together. Email friends and ask them if they’d be interested in creating an informal giving circle that meets once a month to explore powerful ways of making a difference — perhaps over drinks or a meal to keep it fun. Or if you’re in a book club, maybe it can include a giving dimension as well. Find causes that are fun too… that friends will willingly get involved in! LUCKY BRAND jeans are giving away a free pair of Jeans for every pair bought… easy way to give to the homeless without spending more!

Make a gift in someone’s name that will truly have a transformative impact. For instance, the DAVID SHELDRICK WILDLIFE TRUST allows you to adopt animals, which is a great way to give back & help Africa’s wildlife.

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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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