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December 14, 2008 4:23 PM   Subscribe

For the first time in my life I feel that I can comfortably give $$$ to a good cause. Darfur has always weighed on me and left me outraged with no idea on how I could possibly help. Darfur is but one example but I know that I would like to focus on Africa. If one were to give to a charity how sure could one be that the money actually reached the people it was intended for?

What can one person do? Where to start?
posted by crankyboots to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have a friend who does amazing women's health work in Africa with the highly reputable Engender Health. Here's their donation page, and a short video that sums up their mission.
posted by The Straightener at 4:32 PM on December 14, 2008


I donate through Doctors Without Borders - they are very clear about their financials and what goes where. They do excellent work in Africa - one of my doctor friends has volunteered for them in DRC and would work for them again without hesitation.
posted by meerkatty at 4:37 PM on December 14, 2008


For background to these suggestions, read this incredible article by Stephanie Nolen on Stephen Lewis. The following suggestions appeared at the end of the original, but is removed on the website. A few years old, but probably not out of date.

Stephen Lewis's suggestions for African organizations that are badly in need of funds and doing innovative work to fight HIV/AIDS.

- Polyclinic of Hope, A Centre for Women Victims of Violence (women raped during the genocide, many of whom are now HIV positive); P.O. Box 3517, Kigali, Rwanda. The director is Mary Balikungeri, balikungeri@yahoo.com or rwanet@rwandatel1.rwandal.com

- Umoyo Training Centre for Girls; Plot 5779--M, Lusaka West, P.O. Box 37559, Lusaka, Zambia. The centre educates and supports teenage girls, orphaned by AIDS, who are now heads of households in Lusaka. Managed by Mwamba Mutale, kara@zamnet.zm.

-WOFAK (Women Fighting AIDS in Kenya), doing everything from counselling to home-based care; P.O. Box 35168, Alladin House, Haile Selassie Avenue, Nairobi, Kenya. Executive director is Dorothy Onyango, wofak@iconnect.co.ke.

- Lironga Eparu (Learning to Survive), the Association of People Living With AIDS in Namibia; Red Cross Society Centre, Katutura, Windhoek, Namibia. Chairperson in David Uirab, uirab@nip.com.na
posted by Dasein at 4:41 PM on December 14, 2008


There are two aspects to your question. First, what proportion of donations go toward program expenses, vs. administration and fundraising? Charity Navigator can help you with that (free registration required). Second, what proportion of program expenses actually reach the intended recipients, as opposed to being skimmed off by corrupt officials in the recipient country? There, I'd advise checking individual charity websites, but those with a long-established presence are probably savvier at navigating corruption. (That doesn't mean that they won't give out any bribes--they might have to in order to operate--but they'll bribe more efficiently.)
posted by brianogilvie at 4:45 PM on December 14, 2008


If you're looking for a place where your money would be most appreciated, I don't think you can do much better than donating to NTD (neglected tropical disease) research institutes. Most of the government aid and donations go to high-profile diseases like AIDS and TB, leaving little money for low-profile but high-morbidity diseases such as hookworm, pinworm, schistosomiasis, and so on. You can read more on NTDs here. This year, I donated some money to the Sabin Vaccine Institute, which is currently working on creating a vaccine for hookworm.
posted by The White Hat at 4:47 PM on December 14, 2008


The Valentino Achak Deng Foundation focuses on rebuilding the village of Marial Bai in southern Sudan (not Darfur). Valentino was the subject of Dave Eggers' powerful novelized autobiography "What is the What", which described the harrowing experience he and the other 'lost boys of Sudan' went through as the country delved into a 20 year war. (Here he is talking at Google).

Right now, the foundation is in middle of building a new school in Valentino's home town. They also provide support to Sudanese immigrants to the US.
posted by i love cheese at 5:02 PM on December 14, 2008


The Guardian are covering their backing of efforts in Uganda.
posted by rodgerd at 5:33 PM on December 14, 2008


how about a micofinace organization? i've heard plenty of good things about kiva, and i found this one while browsing around trying to remember then name of kiva.

no matter what you decide, good on ya!
posted by bellbellbell at 11:40 PM on December 14, 2008


This is the info I was looking for! Thanks for taking the time to respond. Looks like I have some research to do and some hard choices to make.
posted by crankyboots at 2:40 AM on December 15, 2008


Take no advice from Holden Karnofsky.
posted by flabdablet at 4:44 AM on December 15, 2008


I second Kiva. I've been loaning through them for over a year, and I really enjoy getting to see the story behind the people I'm loaning to. It might seem like a cheap way to 'donate' (as you get the money back), but I really think it is more beneficial to communities to give locally-owned businesses a leg-up, and the requirement that they pay it back keeps me from feeling like money is just being thrown at the problem. Basically, with Kiva you find a business (I do all African businesses) and make a small, no-interest loan to them. As time goes on, you get updates on how their business is doing and get paid back in small increments. It's really pretty fun.
posted by nameless.k at 7:49 AM on December 15, 2008


FYI: I've tried to contact the first organization here. Unfortunately, I haven't received a response. Perhaps it is no longer in existence?
posted by typewriter at 5:57 AM on January 23, 2009


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