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9 Charities Worth Donating To

9 Charities Worth Donating To

Giving money to charity is a great thing to do, but to make sure your money is being used wisely, it’s important to investigate the charity to which you’re considering donating. The last thing you want to do is give your money to a sketchy “charity” that uses the majority of the donations it receives to pay its staff. You need to be sure that your money is actually going to help the people you want it to help.

To help you do this, we’ve compiled a list of fifteen charities worth donating to for you to consider when deciding who to give your hard-earned money to.

1. Pencils of Promise

Pencils of Promise is a for-purpose (as opposed to a non-profit) organization that builds schools, trains teachers, and funds scholarships. It started when founder Adam Braun asked a boy on the streets in India what he wanted most. His answer was “a pencil.” Adam went on to give out thousands of pens and pencils to children in over fifty countries over the next five years, before starting Pencils of Promise.

Pencil of Promise is different from most charities in that it mixes a humanitarian purpose with a smart business approach to ensure there’s a great ROI on every dollar spent. It funds its operations through financial support from private donors, events, and companies. This means that 100% of the money donated to Pencils of Promise goes directly towards helping the children in the countries the charity works in. The charity also stays behind once the schools it builds are finished, to ensure that everything keeps running smoothly. The charity works with local communities to come up with curriculum and programs.

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2. 777

777 is an endurance, adventure, and philanthropic initiative put on in partnership with Pencils of Promise by Joel Runyon and his company, Impossible Ventures. Joel is going to run 7 ultra marathons on 7 continents in order to raise the money and awareness to build 7 schools with Pencils of Promise, to provide opportunities to those for whom a basic education seems impossible.

Joel runs IMPOSSIBLE, where he pushes himself and encourages other people to push their limits and do something impossible. In 2013, Joel raised the money to build one school in Guatemala with Pencils of Promise. Seeing the impact his work did, Joel decided to step it up and push himself to do what, for him, seems impossible, in order to make education possible for children in countries like Guatemala. Joel is funding the mission himself, through travel hacking and other initiatives, and all the money donated goes directly to building the schools.

3. Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK funds scientists, doctors, and nurses who are researching and attempting to find cures for cancer. It also provides information on cancer to members of the public and its policy-development team advises Government and develops policy on issues relating to cancer.

Cancer Research UK is officially the UK’s most trusted charity, according to research conducted for the Charity Commission. A number of bodies work together to ensure that the charity makes the best use of the donations it receives and that the research it carries out is world-class. The charity receives no Government funding, and so relies on donations to help its scientists move closer to finding a cure. Money goes towards such thing as funding research centers and buying research equipment.

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See some of the ways your support helps. We receive no Government funding so our life-saving work is only possible thanks to people like you.

4. Charity: Water

Scott Harrison, the founder of Charity: Water was a hedonistic nightclub promoter when he went to South America and realized he was “the most selfish, sycophantic and miserable human being.” He began volunteering as a photographer for a Christian aid group that performed surgeries in poor countries and saw how much impact people like him could have on the lives of the people he met. Two years later, he decided to start a charity to provide clean water to people in poor countries. But with no money, Harrison had to rely on his talent for promotion to begin raising money.

Several years later, Charity: Water ensures that every cent donated goes straight into projects in the field. It also shows its donors exactly what their money has achieved and uses social media to raise awareness. The charity is applauded for its accountability and transparency. To date, it has funded over 13,000 water projects.

5. Médicins Sans Frontières

Médicins Sans Frontières is an international medical humanitarian organization that provides emergency aid to people who are in need because of natural disasters, armed conflict, and exclusion from healthcare for whatever reason. It helps people according to their needs, ignoring variables such as race, religion, gender, and political beliefs. The organization aims to be impartial and neutral and to instead focus on providing the help that is needed.

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90% of the organization’s funding comes from private sources rather than governments, which means the charity can remain neutral and independent. Over 80% of the charity’s funding goes towards resources for humanitarian support. Only 20% of donations are put into management, administration, and fundraising activities. The charity’s audited financial reports are publicly available.

6. All Hands Volunteers

All Hands Volunteers is a US-based non-profit organization that gives hands-on help to communities around the world, aiming for maximum impact and minimum beaurocracy. It aims to provide immediate and sustainable support to those who need it and to be the most effective charity out there. It has helped survivors following disasters in places such as Haiti and Japan.

The charity raises money through special events, adverts, grant proposals, direct mail, internet appeals, and other approaches. Over 80% of the money raised by the charity goes directly into providing relief and assistance to communities, and the charity has an extremely high transparency score.

7. Oxfam

Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations that work together and with local communities in over 90 countries. The organization is committed to mobilizing the power of people against poverty, by finding practical and innovative ways to help people and communities lift themselves out of poverty. It responds to crises, campaigns to raise awareness of poverty, and helps people to thrive.

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Approximately 80% of the charity’s donations go directly towards helping people in poverty. The charity also has an extremely high transparency rating and is well-known across the world.

8. Rainforest Alliance

The Rainforest Alliance is a conservation organization that aims to protect the rainforest by making it financially appealing for businesses and communities to protect the rainforest. They help businesses improve their standards, so that their practices are sustainable and rainforest-friendly. Once businesses meet their standards, they can become certified, which makes them more appealing to customers. Rainforest Alliance has certified companies such as Scholastic, McDonald’s, and Kraft.

Over 90% of this charity’s donations go directly towards helping the rainforest. The majority of the remaining money goes into fundraising efforts rather than administration or management.

9. World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund aims to protect endangered species and their habitats. They aim to have the biggest impact they can, by encouraging people to make choices that are sustainable and animal-friendly, for example by buying sustainable seafood.

The charity’s financial information is readily available on its website. It receives just over 50% of its funding from donations, and 20% from governments. Over 80% of the organization’s income goes towards program expenses. Of the money that isn’t, just over 10% goes towards fundraising.

Featured photo credit: IMPOSSIBLE & Pencils of Promise via 777.impossiblehq.com

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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