Eds note: Alexandra Eduque is the founder of MovEd, a non profit organization that works with local governments to run pre-schools. Alex has received numerous awards for her charitable works, at the young age of 25, including the Outstanding Volunteer for Global Fundraising in 2013 and the International Fundraising Congress Choice Award also in 2013.
Juana.com.ph asked Alex to share practical ways to give, with the intent to share this to parents to teach their children how to give charitably.
Until I fully immersed myself in the world of non-profit organizations, I always found that “giving” was not as easy as I had originally imagined. That is, purposeful, meaningful and giving back with full intent through/to a worthwhile cause. Some may think that thought to be absolutely absurd, while others, might actually be able to relate.
In essence, it is rather simple. Extremely easy, actually, to just give and keep on giving. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, in the long run (or at least I think so) it can breed laziness (on the end of the recipient) and dependence on donors. So are you actually really “helping?” In other words, it may turn out to be counter-productive and unsustainable.
It can sometimes turn into a very daunting task to even find an avenue to give back through. Which is why, beyond the causes I am most active with, I always say that my greatest advocacy is to provide the community, and those who would like to give back, with a worthwhile platform to do so, where every bit counts, and no one feels insignificant. Inclusive giving, if you will. With my decade worth of experience in working with various institutions, I’ve been able to come up with somewhat of a template that manages to help me guide friends find a cause that works for them. Allow me to share this with you – in the hopes that it will encourage you to jump into the bandwagon of sustainable, purposeful and meaningful giving.
First, you must identify a cause you are passionate about. Whether that be education, livelihood, microfinance, nutrition, the list goes on… it must be something you believe in, and for whatever reason, feel strongly about. Then, begins the research process of finding an organization that addresses that cause. Working with foundations is oftentimes your best bet simply because they already have an identified population of beneficiaries, ongoing programs and some sort of track record that will help you decide if they’re a fit for you to work with or not. You’ll know if the organization is right for you if its mission and vision resonates with you, your values and what you personally believe in. The integrity of the leaders of the organization is extremely important, and they must be people you are able to trust and build a good rapport with.
Tangibility and being able to see the physical outcome of your efforts – whether it be via building houses, working with children, or painting classrooms – is also extremely important. This provides transparency between the organization and the volunteer, and will just strengthen your trust over time, eventually motivating you to want to help out even more.
The number of available organizations in need of help is quite overwhelming. And it is always more productive to focus on a single (or a few at most) cause(s) at one time, versus donating everywhere. I can assure you that concerted and focused efforts go a longer way as opposed to spreading resources out too thinly. In order to narrow down the number of choices out there, an option is to look at a foundation that is able to provide a platform of giving that allows you to give back in the way that you choose. One that conforms to your wishes, and your personal preference in giving, and not the other way around. You must be comfortable with the capacity that you’re able to help out in, and never feel that the help you’re able to extend is minor to the greater realm of things. It is also important to choose an organization that helps a cause in its fullest capacity, but that does not promote dole outs. It must be one that encourages its beneficiaries to become independent – whether that be through providing livelihood opportunities, and/or alternative programs that allow them to grow.
Lastly, allow yourself to spend time with the beneficiaries. Immerse yourself (even just once) with, and in the cause to get a glimpse (at the very least) of how its programs are facilitated, and run. For giving to be meaningful, and for you to feel fulfilled, it must never be forced. It must come from the heart, and nothing will tug or fill your heart more than physically being a part of something. I cannot stress enough how important it is to be able to interact with those who benefit from the organization you are helping because seeing life through their eyes gives you an alternative perspective. It makes you realize how little it takes to make a significant difference in, and bring joy to the lives of others.