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Strategy to Avoid Confusion when Giving to Charity

Caroline Jaine's picture

I have been a life long fund-raiser, but recently I have been a confused giver.  This short article may help me (and others) see through the mists of great causes towards building a personal giving strategy.
Back in the day (that will be the 1970s), charities had “flag days” – once a year I would stand outside Gateway Supermarket on the Gloucester Road in Bristol and wave a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) tin under the noses of passersby, and they would exchange a few coins for a paper flag on a pin.  If we were lucky, we got a one pound note folded into the slot. Together with two friends, our efforts extended to carol singing, putting on shows and even a fete in our back garden.  We were thanked for our charitable efforts by the Lord Mayor of Bristol with tea and cake at City Hall on College Green (known then as The Council House). Life was simple: even though we were children, we did what we could for the one charity we cared about most.
Fast forward a few decades and I have helped to raise funds for tsunami survivors, villagers to ride bicycles in Africa, the conflict-effected of Syria, journalists at war, children’s homes in Sri Lanka, air ambulances, homeless charities, hospitals, flood victims in Pakistan, and widows in Iraq (to name a few).  These charities have all had a special place in my heart for one reason or another.

Could Crowdsourcing Fund Activists as well as Goats and Hairdressers?

Duncan Green's picture

I’ve often wondered if Oxfam or other large INGOs could include the option of sponsoring an activist, either as something to accompany the goats, toilets, chickens etc that people now routinely buy each other for Christmas, or instead of sponsoring a child. I had vague ideas about people signing up to sponsor an activist in Egypt or South Africa, and in return getting regular tweets or Facebook updates. Alas, I’ve never managed to persuade our fundraisers to give it a go.

Now it’s come a bit closer to home. My son, who is a community organizer for the wonderful London Citizens, is currently looking to raise funds to work with a bunch of institutions in Peckham, South London. I couldn’t help him much as I’m rubbish at fundraising, (sure I’m a huge disappointment to him) but it did start me wondering whether there is an activist equivalent to the kind of crowdsourcing sites that are all the rage for small businesses (Kiva, Kickstarter etc). So, inspired by the feedback to my Monty Python bleg, I tweeted a request for sites.

What emerged was a (for me) previously invisible ecosystem of crowdfunding options for radicals. Here’s the list of the links people sent it: