Saturday, April 12, 2014

When Charity Hurts

I want to talk about something that's been on my mind a lot lately--humanitarian aid. More specifically, about when people donate money or time out of the goodness of their hearts, but really do more harm than good

Disclaimers:
  1. I'm not an International Development/Nonprofit/Humanitarian Aid expert, and by no means am I claiming to be one. 
  2. It makes me so happy to know that there are so many people in the world who desire to do good. I'm just saying that if we all took a little more time to educate ourselves on the subject we could help out in much more efficient ways. 

What I'm Saying Is...
All I want to say is that simplifying such a large problem is probably the worst thing we could do. I've talked to a lot of people that say if we were to just do "_________" we could alleviate poverty. Most of the time this comes from people who have never really done any research or had any education on the subject. Sure, they may have had a really incredible experience in South America where they saw a starving child and gave him or her money, which is great. But that hardly qualifies someone to become an instant expert on what exactly needs to be done to solve one of the world's most pressing issues. Too sassy?

So, what I'm suggesting is that we take the time to research what's being done right now to help the poor and critically analyze it. Dig deeper than just reading a touching story...find the problems of an organization. How is it hurting the culture? The local economy? Find out how it's helping. Who are they helping? What's their footprint? 

Here's a cool video that kind of describes this. The first
 2 minutes and 30 seconds is really what I was getting at, 
not the end part about saving the rain forest (which is 
also a noble thing to do).

Basically, really helping the world isn't as easy as clicking "Donate Now" and giving out our credit card number. We also don't need to drop everything and go try to solve the problem with no real knowledge of the problem. If you really want to make an impact take the time to research what you're doing, be critical, and do the best you can to make sure that what you're doing will help and not hurt. 

There is so much potential within each of us to change the world. Ya, you can actually change the world. Never settle for less than that. Maybe you'll change the world by donating critical money to an organization that is doing a lot of good, maybe you'll change it by coming up with a new social innovation, or maybe you'll change it by the work you do. How you change the world will depend on who you are and what your talents are, but remember that you can leave an impact on this Earth that will create so much happiness. Please don't waste that potential. Never forget that.