Responsible giving: The Life You Can Save
Before the Kindlings team embarked on our Steptember challenge, I decided to do a bit of research to find out where the money we were raising for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance would go. I thought finding information on the breakdown of expenditure would be easy but, OH BOY, was I wrong!
"If only there was someone that had already done all this work for me and could tell me where my money would be best spent."
It took some intense website snooping, unsuccessful attempts to understand annual reports (no handy pie charts to be found!), and even a phone call to a real life person (!!!) to find out that 15-18% of funds raised by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance go to administration and overheads. Anything under 20% is generally perceived to be an acceptable amount of overheads, so our Steptember got the go-ahead but – seriously – that was way too much effort!
Which got me thinking, if only there was someone that had already done all this work for me and could tell me where my money would be best spent.
Enter The Life You Can Save, an organisation founded by ethicist Peter Singer, which publishes a list of the best charities for combatting the causes and symptoms of poverty. The website emphasises effective and targeted giving, only suggesting charities demonstrated to be cost-effective, transparent, and making an impact.
In researching this article, I discovered that overhead ratio (how much of funds raised goes towards admin, rent, etc) is not actually the best way to measure a charity’s effectiveness. Focussing on charity overheads doesn't necessarily equate to how much good a charity’s programs accomplish: how many people can be helped and how much a donation will improve their lives. The Life You Can Save considers the actual effect of contributions to each charity, and even provides an Impact Calculator so you can estimate how much good will come from your donation.
You may have picked up that this website only addresses charities which target global poverty. Obviously, this is a huge and important issue but it’s not super useful if you’ve got a non-poverty-related cause or charity you want to check out. There are other websites out there, like Charity Navigator (US) and ChangePath (Australian), which rate charities from all different fields but these sites tend to focus on the financial side and don't take the actual effectiveness of a charity’s programs into consideration.
[If anybody knows of an equivalent to The Life You Can Save that looks at charities from a range of fields, please contact us. We want to know!]
So next time you have a bit of extra moolah and are feeling charitable, check out The Life You Can Save and donate to an organisation that you know will use your money for maximum good.