While money and success can boost our spirits temporarily, making a positive difference in other people’s lives can achieve lasting happiness. And it needn’t be the season of giving in order to do good. Sometimes, the only thing standing in the way of turning our good intentions into life-changing actions, is not knowing how to give back. With thousands of nonprofits competing for donations, many are going beyond traditional models of fundraising to offer donors creative ways to improve the lives of those in need.
If you would like to take a slightly different philanthropic approach by supporting unusual charities, there are many organisations to consider that are breaking the mould in making a difference. Here are five examples of innovative charities and the unusual methods they use to enable ordinary people to contribute to the greater good in extraordinary ways.
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1. Humble Bundle
Humble Bundle is an innovative gaming for charity platform where indie game developers offer their content for download in return for a donation. The proceeds are split between the developers and a number of listed charities. Gamers not only decide how much to pay for the downloads, they can also choose which charities they would like to donate to. Although the “pay what you want” model might sound somewhat exploitable, Humble Bundle has raised a whopping $95m (£73m) for 50 charities since May 2017.
2. Heifer International
When it comes to unusual charities, Heifer International is certainly one to mention. Inspired by the “teach a man to fish” philosophy, this non-profit focuses on sustainability and self-reliance in developing countries. You can make a difference by donating livestock to a family where a single cow or goat could be the difference between making ends meet and going hungry. Each donation could eventually change multiple families’ lives, which is made possible by the charity’s core principle of “Passing On The Gift”. Families who have received a cow, goat or buffalo through the charity give their animal’s first female offspring to another local family in need, thereby spreading the positive effects of each donation.
Dreams are universal, opportunity is not. This is the problem that the non-profit Kiva is addressing to help empower impoverished people who don’t have access to traditional banking systems – whether it’s a struggling student or entrepreneur who wants to start or grow a small business. The charity offers help in the form of microloans that are facilitated through local organisations like microfinance institutions. Lenders choose a borrower based on their story and get updates on their progress until they are eventually able to repay the loan. When a lender is repaid, they can choose to put that money toward a new loan, donate it to Kiva or withdraw it. The organisation puts all of the money you lend toward loans and does not charge interest. To date, Kiva has a 96.8 percent repayment rate.
Cyrenians is a Scottish charity that helps vulnerable people like the homeless. One of the ways in which it achieves this is by dispelling common myths about homeless people. Research found that 15 percent of Scottish people believe people are homeless because of personal choice. To create a non-intimidating environment to educate the public, Cyrenians created a digital chatbot designed to inform people about how easy it is to become homeless. The “Ask Alex” chatbot allows users to ask questions that they might not feel comfortable asking in real life, which helps break down stigmas and educate people about the often-misunderstood topic.
5. Age UK
Age UK, the United Kingdom’s largest charity working with older people, has identified two challenges: finding enough new, regular contributors to support its services and encouraging people over 50 to get involved in fundraising. To solve these problems, Age UK has developed a new skill-sharing business model and partnered with Ecomodo [M5] to develop a new giving platform. This platform encourages older people to actively engage in society – for example, a retired gardener could offer a few hours’ gardening and in return, the recipient makes a donation to Age UK.
With an increasing number of charities employing innovative ways to raise money, you don’t have to go far to find a worthy philanthropic cause to support. It may not be the season of giving all year round, but when it comes to showing compassion towards someone who really needs it, there’s never a bad time. After all, it will bring you happiness too.
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