How to Choose Which Charities You Should Support

Thursday 2 June 2016

Save the Children, a global pioneer in child rights works for children for an array of issues - education, sanitation, safety, job creation, and health (including pre-natal, infant and even maternal health), and also provides disaster relief services. Over the last few years, it has become a partner-of-choice for institutions and corporate and a go-to organisation for philanthropic individuals.

Here’s how you can decide upon which charity you should support:
 
1. Check history and background before you decide to support an NGO
An NGO's history can be ascertained not only through its website but also through media coverage. Their thought leadership and focus can be gauged by how they participate in national and international events. An NGO’s history refers to its founders, their motives for social welfare, and their history of philanthropy and charity. It must also demonstrate activities belying purpose and boldness, and most importantly, their mission statements and promises must translate to actual, on-ground measurable action. Look for a commitment to their goals, and the drive to execute them in the specified territories. Most importantly, these should translate to concrete results.
 
2. Look into project expanse and nature before you support charities
There are many dimensions to any social cause that an NGO works for. And this is why an NGO worth investing in must have a substantial body of work across projects to address these dimensions. Along with the scale, you also must see the territories it operates in. An NGO can justify multi-million budgets if it operates across large territories. As an interested donor or activist, you can visit the NGO's development departments to meet their personnel and get an overview of their work. Further, you can request corresponding programme data to determine veracity.
 
3. Their social media presence
For a novice to the web, social media can seem like a number's game. Likes, Shares, Retweets, YouTube views - these are just superficial criteria to measure their social media presence. What you are looking for is measuring the engagement, its tonality, conversations people are having about the NGO – that is the qualitative factors. Further, also consider how an NGO uses social media for its dedicated projects with hashtags, fundraising crowdsourcing sites, and more. Social media should be deeply woven into both activities and activism. Social media platforms should be the avenues to engage, involve, educate, and gather resources as well as achieve real-time intelligence that can help others.
 
4. Their reach during the last few years in their mission of helping poor
Since a charitable organisation's ultimate mission is to assist and empower people, the actual reach i.e. the number of people they have helped is a key criterion. This, combined with the territories, and the projects rolled out for people defines their reach.
 
Save the Children, India’s leading independent child rights NGO works across 18 Indian states and has changed the lives of 6.1 million Indian children since 2008. The NGO's programmes span India's remotest corners, providing education, healthcare, protection, life-saving aid during emergencies and more to India's most marginalised communities. While the NGO works to improve the lives of children across 120 countries, India's population density makes the nation a key territory for the NGO's operations. Since 2008, the NGO's independent operations have changed 6.1 million children's lives, and just last year, the NGO reached 1.34 million children. The last year saw the NGO protect over 5.8 lakh children from harm, while providing 1.5 lakh children an access to holistic education. 5.4 lakh children were provided health and nutrition by the NGO, and it also provided life-saving aid to over 70,000 children.
 
5. While these points are applicable to all kinds of support, corporates should consider them for CSR purposes
Save the Children is a leading CSR partner for India's corporates and is known for channelizing corporate resources for tackling issues pertaining to children, drive policy reform and call for stronger legislation, and undertake grassroots missions to free children from labour and exploitation. And, it empowers these children with education, job skills, giving India's marginalised children a new lease of life. The NGO is known for transparency and accountability in managing corporate resources allocated for children's rights. The NGO has provided years of CSR support to the world's leading brands like Nokia, Reckitt Benckiser, IKEA, Mondelez, and GSK among others through its projects.
 
Conclusion
A combination of data-centric business thinking, combined with a qualitative understanding can help anyone understand if an NGO is worthy of support. This, coupled with a belief in the cause they embody, and their vision for change is the final catalyst to turning infrastructure and funding into actual possibilities. If an NGO's end goal is something that excites you, it is clearly the one you should consider, no matter how ambitious or even far-fetched it feels. For the world's biggest NGOs like Save the Children, these aren't problems that can be solved overnight, or even within years, but can require constant vigilance, support and enthusiasm of their backers.