Doing Good in the Neighbourhood

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There are two things really high on my list of priorities when I'm looking at development organizations to work with or to support:
    After all, you can't really start changing the world if you are ignoring the problems of half of it. Working on gender issues doesn't have to mean just working with women, but if you aren't addressing these types of deep rooted inequalities, I don't think you are creating lasting solutions to poverty.

    Social Paired With Economic Empowerment
    People who know their rights tend to be better able to improve their economic situation. And people who are economically empowered, feel confident about asserting their rights. One helps you get the other and I think that programs that combine both can help to create a mutually supportive relationship between the social sphere and the economic sphere.

While these are the areas that I like to focus on when looking to support an NGO, these days it seems that there are endless choices in terms of NGO's you can support. It can be hard to choose which one to support, and how to support them. Here are a few tips to help you determine what kind of support is right for you

Who to Support and Why?
How do you know whether to support an organization or cause through volunteering or through donating? At the end of the day you should pick an organisation that you feel connected to and care about. Here are some of the things I think about when looking at organisations.

Rights-Based Development
I look for organisations that mention protecting and promoting basic rights, human rights, women's rights, and/or children's rights. First of all, this means the NGOs work is not just about giving water or housing or schooling, but also about helping communities understand that they have a right to these services and demand that their governments provide them. While this can take a lot time to achieve, I think it will create real change in the long run.

Working with Local Partners
There are development NGOs that operate offices directly in country and there are those who build partnerships with local NGOs. You might not realize this but there are a lot of local NGO's in developing countries, just like there are wherever you are from. There are people who saw a challenge in their community and came together to try and fix it nearly everywhere. I believe the advantage of working with local partners is that they are often more connected to the problems on the ground and they understand the cultural better. So I tend to support organisations that work to partner and strengthen local partners rather than supporting overseas operations

Should You Worry About Admin Costs?
When I fund-raise I always get asked about administrative costs and the answer is always that the NGO has really low admin costs. This is because in order to have “charity”  status in most countries you have use at least 80% of your budget on programmes. Also, good administrative practice makes your donation more effective, like have good financial controls or having really qualified staff who are good at their job.

Here are some NGOs that I'm a Fan of. You can check out their social media and see what they are working on right now.  I've picked pretty big ones because no matter where you live you can probably find them, but there are also lots of great small and medium NGOs, in every country doing great work so don't feel you need to stick with bigger organisations.

Save the Children
Twitter: @SavetheChildren

Twitter: @Oxfam

Twitter: @ActionAid

Twitter: @UNICEF

Twitter: @helpage

Street Kids International
Twitter: @streetkidsintl

Twitter: @warchild

Twitter: @woman_kind

Stephen Lewis Foundation
Twitter: @stephenlewisfdn

Ive also personally worked with Equality for Growth in Tanzania.

This organization is a local Tanzanian movement. They work with women in the informal sector, such as the women who sell various food stuffs or small goods in markets. The organization helps give these women access to tools and education to improve their business and livelihoods. They also work on providing them with access to legal and human rights education and help the women to actively engage in policy and reforms that will improve their welfare and bargaining power.

Go check out their website to hear them tell all about it in their own words

-Your Long Distance Neighbour

P.S. if you are having trouble with the link, please remember the days of dial-up... things don't always go smoothly with the internet

Photos on this post are courtesy of Equality for Growth's website


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