We have some guidelines that we try to follow when giving our money. For example we never give money to any cause over the phone. We try to choose organisations who reflect our values. Whilst we have no problem with cancer research or children’s hospitals in Australia, we tend to focus more on charities which provide basic needs for the very poor both in Australia, and around the world.
When Hannah was a baby we got a sponsor child through World Vision. It has been a great family experience to write her birthday and Christmas letters, and to read about how she is going. We have a map on our wall which we have marked where various people we know live, including our sponsor child who is in Ecuador. Having a sponsor child has opened up doorways to talk to our kids about how fortunate they are, and how many kids don’t have the kind of life that we do.
Over the weekend we sat down with the girls and opened up a kiva account for each of them. Kiva provides micro loans to people in developing countries to help them start businesses, get educated, and develop skills to improve their lives. We gave the girls $25 each and they looked at the website and chose someone to lend the money to. When the money is repaid, they can choose some one else. The girls really enjoyed reading about the different people and choosing some one to support.
Project AK47 is one of the charities we have chosen to direct our money to. We have a personal connection to this, having met people who work with this charity, and been moved by what they tell us. Project AK47 rescues child soldiers. In some parts of the world there are children as young as 2 or 3 who are conscripted into armies, where they suffer unimaginable traumas and abuse. It really is heart breaking when I look at my own sweet children, and wonder how children who are much the same as them can be forced into such a horrific life.
We have supported TEAR Australia sporadically for a while now, but have decided that we will make a regular monthly contribution. Last year the girls held a lamington stall and raised money for the famine in Africa. We donated the money to TEAR’s Africa Appeal because we have always been impressed with TEAR’s organisation. We were so excited when the girls got a letter thanking them for their donation. We don’t expect any thanks, but it was lovely to receive the acknowledgement.
We also keep a bit of money aside for good causes that might pop up from time to time. e.g. the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal or the Red Cross.
There really are so many good causes out there all asking for support. It is really easy to feel overwhelmed and guilty. The truth is we are fortunate to have enough money, but we are not rich. We feel it is important to give some of it to worthy causes, but we can not support them all. I like having a plan about which charities we are going to support. It makes it easier to know how to respond. When some one rings me up, I just say “I’m sorry. We have a policy of not giving over the phone”.
How do you handle the issues of charity and giving? What causes do you, or don’t you support?