“What you pour out into the world is poured right back into you.”
― Matshona Dhliwayo
We live in a world where the ever growing wealth gap has left a small handful with too much, while the rest of the world is left with barely enough of far too little. For businesses, companies and those of us who are able, it has become increasingly urgent to share our good fortune and privilege with those who have no access to it. Some would argue that giving back is in our nature, that showing compassion to others is an inherent part of our humanity. Small acts of kindness can go a long way and have major impacts on the lives of others.
All over the world there are organizations, businesses and individuals who have made it easier for us to connect and find the causes we want to contribute to. From saving the smallest insects from extinction, to raising funds for the most pressing social and environmental matters. The hard work, compassion and dedication of these individuals and groups should never be overseen. However, when choosing where and what to donate, there are a few factors worth taking into consideration.
Low Cost Donations
When essential items like clothing, school supplies and even food are donated, they are often done so on a tight budget. Stretching a donated dollar as far as it can go does make sense. Opting for more affordable products means that more people can be helped and provided with what they need. Sounds reasonable right? However, it is worth discussing the impact of lower cost products and taking a closer look at the means of production which enables them to be so affordable. More than often, there is a high price to be paid somewhere along the supply chain and this price usually falls on more vulnerable communities and the environment. This is not to say that donations must be expensive in order to be ethical, but it does mean that we have a responsibility to do thorough research on the places we donate to and the items they provide as well as where they come from. There are many ecologically sound options available for reasonable prices as well, like certified B Corp, Gallant International Inc, which offers wholesale organic cotton bags for custom printed corporate gifts, donations and more.
Systemic Change vs Temporary Solutions
The ripple effect of poorly produced products has more devastating effects on people and the environment than we like to realise. Consider what we already know about industries like fast fashion and the poor working environments which laborers are subjected to. Supporting such industries hardly seems like an effective way to stimulate positive change. For instance, donating a cheaply made nylon backpack to a child in need will provide them with a basic essential for school and improve their daily life, but the production of this backpack has already caused damage elsewhere. From polluting the planet to exploiting laborers, ultimately this backpack has not addressed the systemic issues we are facing in society. Now consider the impact of donating Terra Thread’s 100% Fairtrade organic cotton backpack. This product is ethically and responsibly created with people and the planet at the forefront, creating good throughout the entire supply chain. Donating an eco-friendly backpack is not only helping the child, but it is also pushing for reformation in business and production, helping many others along the way. Instead of perpetuating a cycle of poverty, your donation has now impacted more people than you could imagine and has supported a business which is committed to making the world a better place. The bottom line is that we must work towards systemic change and address the root of the problem, rather than finding temporary solutions.
The Environmental Impact of Your Donations
It feels good to give back, but it feels even better knowing that you haven’t harmed our planet in the process. Once again we must consider where the items we are donating come from and how they are made. More affordable options, particularly when it comes to clothing and school supplies are made with synthetic fibres which have their own lasting impacts. Rather than going over the negative effects of producing these products, we can look to the additional good we can do when opting for ecologically sound donations. Organic and natural options like Terra Thread’s sustainable backpack collection are becoming increasingly available and they hold so many benefits for the environment and people. Organic farming practices require significantly less water and energy, saving many precious resources. Such practices also prohibit the use of toxic and harmful chemicals which pollute the air and can infiltrate surrounding water and food sources. Where synthetic products have a ripple effect of negative consequences, sustainable options turn out positive effects.
Giving is always good and should be encouraged in all forms, but we have the possibility of creating even more good by ensuring that our contributions are having a positive impact on everyone involved. As stated by Charity Navigator, one of America’s leading charity assessment organizations: “A charity's ability to bring about long-lasting and meaningful change in the world is the key reason for their existence and for your donation.”
With several scandals and reports of misusing donors’ contributions and a lack of transparency concerning the supply chain of donated products, it’s no wonder many potential givers are overwhelmed and confused. We all want to live in a world where every person has a decent pair of shoes, where every family has a warm meal on their table, and where every child has access to school supplies and education. There are several ways for you as an individual to make a contribution. From cash donations and volunteering your time, to donating second-hand and new essentials, there is a way to get involved. If you are itching to do some good in this world, make sure it is done in a manner which contributes to a sustainable change, not just a short-term fix.
Charity Assessment Organizations: