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With all the worthwhile causes in the world, the range of choices can be overwhelming. What to do? Here are some ways you can sort through things that may help you narrow the search when you're considering giving money or time to a charity:

  • Think in terms of people, places, and things: Can you visualise the people, places and things that the cause affects? Are these the people near you (geographically, ethnically, linguistically, economically, culturally)? Are these the places you care about or that hold a special meaning in your life? Are these the things you want to see improved, protected, or researched?

  • Worry less and do more: There is nothing requiring you to jump in with both feet. Why not research an organisation you like and give them the minimum donation to receive their newsletter and join their email list? As you learn more about the organisation, you may feel motivated to give more. And, if you don’t, the amount invested will be small enough to walk away without regret.

  • Knock on doors: Is the charity nearby? Why not arrange a visit? Is there someone you know who works for the charity or works on their behalf? Meet for tea and discuss what excites that person and, if possible, get an honest appraisal of what aspects the charity could improve. Nothing is all roses, but best to spot the thorns early.

  • Trust your instincts: Don’t let charities tell you it’s ‘just the way it is.’ There are reasons for everything. There are reasons some charities spend more of their budgets on overhead than others. A charity that cannot answer these questions, or seems to avoid these questions, is not one you should be dealing with in the first place.

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