Charity, Developing countries, Development, Thoughts

What should you look for when donating to NGO’s?

Recently Human and Hope Association received a generous donation from a fan group on behalf of two of South Korea’s biggest stars. It actually got a shout out from those two celebrities and hundreds of thousands of likes and shares. It was the best publicity we had received in 5+ years of operation.

I was really impressed with this fan group, as they are uniting together with a common interest, and using it to help those less fortunate. We were chosen as their initial charity, and without trying to sound biased, they sure did pick a good one. At Human and Hope Association we are committed to financial transparency and ensuring that we stay true to our mission/goals.

Given the fan group intend on collaborating to make many more donations to other charities, I offered them advice on how to choose a reputable NGO, which I thought I would share here:

  • Are their annual reports online? Not every country requires annual reports (such as Cambodia), but it is the best practice to have them. When an NGO provides an annual report they are able to showcase their achievements and also promote financial accountability.
  • Is all the information on their website up-to-date? You would be surprised at how many websites I have come across with outdated information, which then means the incorrect information is passed on, or donors are left with false expectations. An easy way of knowing whether a website is up-to-date is by checking out the photos, dates and language used.
  • Are they a registered charity/NGO in the country that they operate in? Admittedly, it can be incredibly difficult to register NGO’s in some countries, but for more they should definitely be registered to increase their accountability.
  • Do they have a strong child protection policy in place? Not only that, do they have the systems to see it through?
  • Do they have a strict visitor policy? It isn’t good when NGO’s allow people to visit their projects without following rules, such as ensuring they don’t take children off the premises, no disrupting classes, etc.
  • Is the NGO run by local people? That is, after all, the most sustainable practice for NGO’s.
  • Do they provide a method to move out of poverty instead of giving out direct aid? When we provide direct aid, it can make those people dependent on the aid, and less likely to work/move out of poverty. Of course, there are exceptions, such as with the elderly and disabled.

Another piece of advice is that your donation should not have conditions, the NGO should be able to spend it on their ongoing costs such as salaries, rent and petrol. I know these are unattractive, but organisations cannot function without their staff to teach their students, their land/buildings to provide a safe environment and petrol to conduct outreach. It is SUPER difficult to fundraise for ongoing costs, and you can REALLY make a difference to an NGO that way.

Happy donating!