Thinking of a donation? Some personal recommendations.

Firstly, just to be clear, this isn’t a plea for money. I’m not asking for donations.

It’s targeted, instead, at those of you who already intend making a contribution in the run-up to the holidays, but might still be thinking about who you want to support. Maybe you’re on the look-out for new ideas where your money could make a significant impact.

Since I’ve had the privilege of working with some ‘not for profits’ in Africa this year, I’m taking the liberty of giving you my own personal suggestions of 3 organisations (actually also a 4th slightly different alternative), where I’ve seen funds being put to great use.

This is unscientific, by the way. (If you want to do proper research and get technical, I’d recommend the recently published ‘Doing Good Better’ by William MacAskill.) However, my ideas below are based on what I’ve seen first hand, and I personally can vouch for the superb work these teams are doing.

So here goes:

1. The Ethiopian Education Foundation (EEF) (www.ethio-ed.org) EEF support young kids through secondary education. They select those from the most deprived backgrounds, but with excellent primary school results, ensuring that these children get the opportunity to fulfil their huge potential. And EEF’s track record is phenomenal: despite their tough backgrounds, these kids come out top of their class every year and are going on to become the doctors and engineers of Ethiopia’s future. With minimal overheads at EEF, practically every penny of your donation goes directly to the work in Addis. [If you want to read more: https://alanmathers.com/2014/05/13/if-you-only-read-one-of-my-posts/%5D

2. The Book Bus (www.thebookbus.org) The Book Bus has been delivering books to rural schools in Africa and South America for the past 10 years. I witnessed first hand the delight of the kids when the bus drove into the village: their excitement down to not just getting new books, but also the quality time dedicated by the volunteers to helping them read. The Book Bus is now starting also to build reading rooms in local communities, with two completed in Zambia this year. I got the chance to visit the Livingstone room and saw what an impact it had made in a very deprived part of the community. [If you want to read more: https://alanmathers.com/2015/04/08/the-book-bus-in-livingstone-and-some-waterfalls/%5D

3. Camfed (www.camfed.org) The dedicated team at Camfed carry out amazing work with girls in several countries across Africa, ensuring they receive a proper education and then supporting them as they emerge into the community as young women. I had the immense privilege of working with the Zimbabwe team and saw first hand how they transform individual lives and whole communities, particularly those in the most remote, rural areas. Testament to the success of their work, the overall head of the organization in Africa is herself a beneficiary of Camfed’s work. Now an inspiring, leading advocate for women’s rights globally, Angie would not, without Camfed’s help, even have had the opportunity of a secondary education. [If you want to read more: https://alanmathers.com/2015/05/29/a-journey-with-camfed/%5D

And, finally, one other: Kiva (www.kiva.org) Those of you who have been following my blogs will have heard me ramble on at length this year about the amazing work that Kiva is doing across the world. The difference with Kiva is that, instead of giving a donation, you make a loan. The loan gives someone who doesn’t have access to finance, the opportunity to invest in a business, and to use their skills to build their own way out of poverty. Your loan contribution can be as little as $25; there’s a 98% repayment rate, and once it’s been repaid, you can either withdraw your money, or make another loan. The benefit, of course, is that where ‘a charity dollar has only one life, a ‘’social business’’ dollar can be invested over and over again’). I had the chance to meet many, many people whose lives have been utterly transformed through having been given an opportunity like this, and I’ve found it truly inspiring.

Like I said at the outset, I don’t mean this to come across as pressure to donate ! I know many of you already have your own preferred causes and organisations. But if you do happen to be looking for ideas, then I’ll be delighted if you put these on your list to consider.

Thanks for reading. And have a very happy Christmas / holiday season.

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