When we donate to a charitable cause, we tend to focus on how we help the organisation achieve its specific goals. For instance, donors to Village Enterprise hope to support low-income people in Africa in starting or growing their small businesses. Donors to One Acre Fund want to help farmers who own small pieces of land increase their productivity. However, the results of an effective charity can actually benefit more people than just those within its own primary focus.
The Importance of Co-Benefits
Here is an example that illustrates the concept. Studies reported that when there is economic improvement and growth, there is less mortality among mothers, infants, and children. Newborns have a better survival rate. A study on 48 nations in Africa showed that when life expectancy improved by 9.4 years, this led to a growth of 1% in real GDP per capita. So, when you donate to charities that saves lives, such as Iodine Global Network, Against Malaria Foundation, Population Services International, and many more, you are not just saving individual lives. You are also supporting the long-term growth of the economy in countries that have been suffering economically.
Along the same lines, effective charities benefit the environment. Reduction in the greenhouse effective, air quality improvements, protecting endangered species or preserving habitat are just some of the co-benefits that these charities can bring about. This can impact your decision-making when selecting charities to give to.
Incorporating Environmental Goals into Charitable Activities
There are effective charities that are upfront about integrating environmental priorities into their projects. For example, Oxfam is active in controlling climate change and in helping developing countries become more resilient to these effects. The works at Living Goods decreased the mortality rate of children under 5, but along with making healthcare products available, they also sell solar lights and cookstoves. One Acre Fund’s projects in East and Southern Africa make available lamps and home systems that use solar energy, and they sell clean cookstoves to small farms on credit.
Other charitable organisations are also making efforts to link their projects to environment benefits. An example is the African Wildlife Foundation and Village Enterprise. In 2018, they partnered in a cause for reducing poverty and to protect the bonobos, an endanger species in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the poorer areas, the people hunt and sell bushmeat for income and their livelihood. This partnership aimed to create microenterprises using a model from Village Enterprises that offer the people another way to earn an income instead of killing these animals. These two charities aim to explore how they can apply this to other geographic regions. If you want to get involved in a local charity event/project near you, search ‘community projects near me‘.
Documenting Indirect Benefits
The projects from nonprofits like Oxfam, Village Enterprise, Give Directly, Living Goods, and other charities whose objective is to end or reduce poverty involves improving the economy, which often leads to environmental benefits. As poverty goes down, environmental metrics like water quality and sanitation improves. The correlation between quality of the environment and economic growth is not always obvious or consistent, but there is a relationship. As sustainable and renewable energy becomes more affordable and more countries implement it, this can have positive impacts on their economies and in controlling the greenhouse effect.
When choosing charities to give to, it is worthwhile to consider what other indirect benefits to the economy or environment this charity can provide. By funding the right organisations, you can expand the benefits to the environment by supporting sustainability for the long-term, improving the health of the people, and improving total effectiveness. This is what effective giving is all about.