Choosing a Charity
Choosing between many good causes is half the battle. Here are a few good tips and suggestions to help you on your way.
A Holistic Approach to Altruism
If we are really serious about making a difference, we must consider a number of different areas as equally vital. The world we know is full of material, social, ecological, psychological and economic relationships - not all of which are immediately obvious.
A Life Without Torture
Without taking care of the basics, many people and animals will be forced to endure great suffering, needlessly. Without help, many of the most vulnerable are too weak to take advantage of opportunity, if it even arises.
- Water and Sanitation. Clean drinking water and waste removal are essential to stop disease.
- Food and Nutrition. Work, study, play and health all depend on basic nutrition.
- Shelter and Accomodation. A safe living environment, and an end to homelessness.
- Health and Family Planning. A life without health is a life not lived at all.
- Ecology and Sustainability. Humans are tightly interdependent with nature. Unsustainable resource use has implications for prelonging the cycle of suffering. The psychological welfare of our sentient brethren also has an impact on our own.
- Kindness and Fairplay. Also known as 'Human and Animal Rights'.
- Disaster Relief. Earthquakes, volcanos and freak storms: shit happens!
There are a wide variety of such charities. Here are some of my top picks:
Be sure to check for your local branch or state specific organisation.
(this list will be updated from time to time, feel free to send me your suggestions)
We want to be sure our time and money are well used.
- Mind and Heart. Our reasons for giving are important. If we give purely out of fear, ideology or fad, our gift may become tainted and may be unsustainable in the long-term. If we give out of genuine compassion for both ourselves and others, we give with wisdom and understanding.
- Cultural Respect. It is important that charity groups tread carefully around long-standing cultural issues, mythology and traditions. Diversity is both interesting and thought provoking. It is an important element of creative solutions. It is vitally important that we do not inadvertently (or otherwise) spread unnecessary or destructive dogmas, such as our own religious traditions, materialism, or economic and political arrogance.
- Review and Evaluation. There are groups dedicated to reviewing and evaluating charity organisations. For instance, they will consider what percentage of donations is directly applied to the cause. All groups will have expenses for administration, but ideally these overheads are kept to a minimum.
- Self Sustaining. Ideally we want to both alleviate suffering and make communities self-sufficient in future so they are not continually dependent on others for survival.
- Root Causes. Looking at the root causes of the problems communities and the ecology face are just as important. If we don't identify and seek to address the root of the problem, we will be engaged in substantial charity work without end.
The Causes of Poverty and Abuse
Tackling the root causes of poverty and abuse are just as important if we ever want to reduce the scale and cost of the problem.
- Inequality. Inequality is now an acknowledged cause of psychosocial stress and has tangible impacts on both mental and physical health, and therefore to the health of our communities. The massive accumulation of material wealth in the hands of a few is not doing anyone any good, not even those who possess it.
- Opportunity. Being able to feel wanted and a valuable part of the community is an important aspect of self-worth and holistic health. It is also sensible if we don't want to waste the enormous potential of our human capital. Meaningful livelihood should be a joint responsibility between community and individual.
- Education. We need modern approaches to schooling, vocational training and professional qualification that reflect the interdependent nature of things. All these areas also need to begin to cover basic psychological health.
We also need to tease apart the metaphysical dogma in our current materialist-science from the science itself, and take a closer look at our interpretation of the facts. There are significant ramifications for our self-worth and respect for each other, and the ecosystem of which we are a part. Exploring consciousness is just one approach to this topic.