I know most of us want to make an impact. I also know most of us have limited resources to do so. But that doesn’t mean we all can’t make a positive impact. Unfortunately, because our impact may be ‘small,’ I think we sometimes just sit back and let others take care of it. Maybe we convince ourselves that there really isn’t a need, or that my few dollars can’t really do much. To that, I say – “We have to open our eyes.” There are needs all around us. Some big, some small, some global, some local. If we all strategically come together to make a difference, we could actually make an impact everywhere.
But first – the local versus global argument
More than likely, there are people living on your local street (or in your community) that could use help. There are also millions of people world-wide that live on next to nothing, just trying to survive. I don’t argue one need is worse than the other, rather that EVERYONE matters.
We have to find the most effective ways to use our resources, so we can help as many people as possible. If everyone chose to effectively make an impact, we wouldn’t be arguing whether local or global is better, rather asking the question: “Who can we help next?”
Let’s not get caught up in arguments that don’t help us. If we do, we risk not making an impact at all.
The question should be:
How can we make the biggest impact?
Whether, you have a lot of money, or just a few dollars to your name, I know you want to make a difference because you’re still reading this post. So, how can we use our limited resources to the best of our ability?
When making these decisions as a family, we try and work through a few basic concepts. Hopefully these can help you as well.
1. Determine how much you have to give.
This might sound basic, but we need to be responsible. We certainly can’t donate money we don’t have. That said, this isn’t meant to be an ‘easy way out’ either. Just because your current budget may not allow for much, doesn’t mean we don’t have to adjust in order to help.
Our family tithes to our local church, and gives an additional portion away to other causes as well. We find using a percentage of our income as a starting point is a great way to scale our giving. When our income goes up, so does our giving. But when our income goes down, our giving also decreases. So, whether you have a lot of disposable income, or just a little bit, challenge yourself with an amount.
Just remember two things when you do this:
- The amount doesn’t matter. It’s when we challenge ourselves to sacrificially give, do we actually start to make an impact together.
- Once you land on an amount, don’t feel bad if you have to say no once you’ve reached that budgeted amount. You planned and budgeted – there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, we should be encouraging everyone to do so. That said, don’t stop yourself from adjusting further if you can as well!
2. Be aware of the needs around you.
It can be scary to take notice of the needs around you. Sometimes it easier to be naïve and ‘turn a blind eye.’ But if we want to make an impact, we need to see the needs around us. If you need encouragement to open your eyes, just remember that you might be in a position in the future where you need someone to see the need in your life.
So, we have to open our eyes locally and globally, and ask ourselves, “Where, and how, can I donate the money I’ve decided to give?”
It’s also very possible, that after seeing the needs, you may actually go back to step one and re-evaluate how much you can afford, so you can meet a need.
When Deidre and I first sponsored Christian (our sponsor child), we actually realized that if we stopped buying coffee/tea in the morning, we could afford to sponsor him every month. We actually determined that we were able to give up a luxury so that we could help provide a need for someone else.
Most of us can always do without something if it means truly making an impact somewhere else.
3. Help directly and specifically, if possible.
It’s usually better to directly meet a need, then to blindly give. That doesn’t mean you never engage in crowd funding initiatives like Go-Fund-Me, but if you can directly help someone out with a need, that’s always better. It often adds a relational component. Not only are you meeting a need, but you’re also giving social and emotional support. That kind of support isn’t always seen through big-funding efforts.
I also try to give with a specific purpose – especially to local needs. For example, if someone is looking for money on the street corner, I buy them coffee or lunch, before I hand them cash. My goal is to make an impact and meet a need, not just hand out money that could actually end up funding an addiction (not that that’s always the case – please don’t hear what I’m not saying).
My point – don’t give blindly. Give with purpose. Give directly and specifically to a need.
4. Partner with professional and responsible groups.
The best ways to give globally is through an organization that has pre-established connections with the area in need. But just because they help, doesn’t mean they’re good at it, or responsible with the donations they receive.
As a general rule, we partner with organizations and charities who:
- Are professional and registered with government;
- Are open and transparent about their mission and initiatives;
- Have missional values that I can stand by; and,
- Who spend at least 80-90% of their resources on actual charitable programs and projects that directly make a difference.
In Canada, all of this information is available to the general public. If you’re wondering who my family supports, here are some registered Canadian charities we love to work with for global poverty relief, along with the percent they spend on charitable activities (2017):
- ERDO (90%);
- Shelter Them Poverty Relief (89%); and,
- Compassion Canada (85%).
5. Follow through and follow up.
Don’t just give money and walk away; follow through, and follow up to see the results. Not only will this inspire you to give in the future, it may initiate a friendship and connection that you never thought you’d ever have. Giving can bring people together!
Sometimes you can even have the opportunity to correspond with those who are being impacted. In the case of sponsoring a child, the sponsor can actually engage in letters, share photos, and actually watch how your monthly donation can actually make someone else’s world ten times better.
I really hope this helps!
No matter if it’s local or global, make efforts to make an impact! Don’t complain about how the government doesn’t do enough, or spends money in the wrong places. We can only control what we do. We can make effective choices, and we need to do it together!
How do you make an impact?
Share with me in the comment section below (or on social media). You never know how you may encourage someone else!