As we’ve been traveling and working with humanitarian organizations over the last two and a half years, I have slowly begun to realize the problem most nonprofit and humanitarian organizations are facing. It comes disguised as lack of money, lack of quality volunteers or employees, or even indifference.
The real problem however is commitment, or more realistically the lack of commitment from their support base. It is easy to send $10 or $20 once a year, it is even easier to share an occasional post on social media. The reality is that while those things help in small ways they still fall short. In order to survive, nonprofit organizations need envolved commitment from us, the general public, that believes in what they are doing.
The best part is I’m not just talking about money. Commitment can come in as many forms as you have talents and abilities. Are you a photographer? Commit to being THE photographer for an organization close to you. Computer skills? Help an organization manage their IT systems. CPA? Provide year end audits for a cause you believe in. Organizations desperately need so many of the skills we take for granted everyday.
But what they don’t need is someone to do it occasionally. They need commitment and consistency.
They need donors too, but again, they need consistency. Month to month support allows organizations to budget and spend time doing their work instead of trying to find funding for next week or next month.
I realize that we are all inundated with marketing and messages from all kinds of places doing good. It is incredibly hard to decide which one or ones to help. There are so many things going wrong with the world and we want to believe we can help them all.
While we can give randomly to some of them when they manage to move us deeply, in the long run it might not have the impact we are hoping for.
Choosing one or two causes or organizations to commit to will dramatically increase the impact we can have on the lives of people in need of help. The more we focus on one cause, the more we learn and understand about the situation. Over time our empathy for the people affected increases. We can track changes in the situation and become an ambassador for the cause, recruiting people to join us in the work to make a difference.
So if there is an organization that you think is doing something good, I would encourage you to think about how you can make a long term commitment to them and really invest in helping them change the world.