The student’s guide to donating to charity

May 03, 2016
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Always wanted to give to charity but don’t know where to start? To help you get off on the right foot, we teamed up with charity Walking Wounded to put together a guide to giving back.

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As students we might feel compelled to give to charity, but how do we know the most effective ways to donate? And how do we know that our contribution is going to make any noticeable difference? It’s also likely that we don’t have tonnes of spare change lying around, so how can we help out without dipping into the piggy bank? To get you started, here are a few handy tips.

What’s the best way to donate?

According to consumer watchdog CHOICE, the most effective way to donate is by giving directly to the charity. CHOICE suggests you don’t wait to be asked to donate, but instead give often and give generously (if you’ve got the funds to do so). Often, charities will let you set up a direct debit, and will also allow you to cancel those transactions when you’re low on cash. Even something as little throwing a few coins into a charity wishing well can help.

What about volunteering?

Volunteering is the second most effective form of donation, according to CHOICE. It does involve a little more commitment, but you will get a rewarding experience out of it. Plus, having volunteer experience on your CV is a massive win. Check out the GO Volunteer website to find a suitable charity for you to volunteer with. Don’t overthink it, though - volunteering at your local Vinnies, RSPCA or soup kitchen will go a long way.

How do I choose a good charity to donate to?

It really depends on the causes that matter to you most, and which charities will do the best job to support the causes you believe in. There are charities that support pretty much everything - all it takes is a little research. The Australian Charity and Not-for-profits Commission has a search engine that hosts all results for Australian-based organisations. Often, your uni will also have connections with a slew of charities, so check some of them out and get a taste for what you like.

Where do my donations go?

The Australian Council for International Development has an interactive map that shows which non-government organisations (NGOs) are working in different parts of the world - it’s a great resource for people worried about where their donation is going.

To get specific information on where your donation will go, check out your chosen charity’s website. They’ll often have details on how funds are allocated.

What about crowd-funding?

Crowd-funding is one of the newest and most direct forms of charity donation, where the donator can give directly to the people in need. The website GoFundMe helps individuals raise money for causes, with past success stories including: over US$5,000 raised for a prom for students with autism; over US$105,000 collected for a memorial fund for the victims of the Paris attacks; and nearly AU$5,000 donated to a family recuperating after a fire destroyed their house.

You can raise awareness yourself

Students are notoriously cash-poor, and sadly, donating to charity is often out of reach for some of us. If you don’t have any spare dollars lying around, you can still help a charity by raising awareness. Keep an eye out on social media, check out your uni noticeboards and talk to your mates: there are always petitions, protests and awareness campaigns going on around your campus or closest city. Armed with a placard and a catchy chant, you’ll be able to incite change without dropping too much spare change.  

Keegan Thomson

Keegan is studying journalism at the University of Western Sydney. He’s an avid storyteller and global traveller whose likes include fresh bed sheets and Jeff Goldblum movies.

Image: DC Central Kitchen, Flickr Creative Commons license

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Walking Wounded is a charity established to support the psychological recovery of returned Australian soldiers. To learn more or to donate, click here. 

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