How to make sure your donations get to the right place.
So you want to donate to support people in Ukraine or somewhere else in the world....a lot of us do but we aren't sure how to do it.
WOW! I never thought I would be affected or pulled to write something like this. In my lifetime I have been cynical of all types of giving and have even gone so far as to say that I refuse to give to any organization or person that is begging or just looking for a handout. But my views all changed a few years ago. Back in the summer of 2015 our family had a watershed moment in time when our youngest child was diagnosed with a brain tumor. We were not destitute or in need of financial assistance; we had great insurance and we were capable of taking care of ourselves in one of the best children's hospitals in the US or in the world...depending on your viewpoint.
What changed for us was the fact that we weren't like the vast majority of the families in the hospital for a life threatening diagnosis of a child. We were able to take care of ourselves and our friends, co-workers, family and church family made sure that we were taken care of so that we could take care of our child. It allowed my wife and I to reflect on those around us in the hospital and we took it upon ourselves to go one step farther...we began helping those in the hospital that needed it more than we did. We fed families and even asked that is you brought us food to please bring a little more to help those around us; and the people did. We prayed with families that were facing a time that no parent should face with an outcome where their child was not expected to live and sharing our love and a shoulder to cry on. We may never see most of those parents and families again but we felt led to help them. I can't say for certain that it was any one singular thing that guided my wife and me to do it but I can say that I felt closer to my faith during that time than I had ever felt before.
Which leads me to write this about charitable giving. In times of distress we all feel a need to give in some way. Whether that is hands on, financially or a combination of both parts. I know that in my life I always feel better when able to work and give with service rather than financially but circumstances don't always allow that to happen. For instance just leaving all you know, love and have to assist in a war zone half a world away is not always feasible but as a group we all want to do something to help.
So when you are giving make sure you do your due diligence. If it is through one of the "funds" that are being setup to help the Ukrainian people or by giving to a charity that is doing the actual work. Make sure you spend a little time and do it with an organization that actually does the work. I personally like to know that when I give; it goes to groups that have a larger giveback than what they use to run their organization. A way to check that is to use sites like Charity Navigator (https://www.charitynavigator.org/), Guidestar (https://www.guidestar.org/) and Charity Watch (https://www.charitywatch.org/). These sites can help you navigate a confusing mess of charity groups. However it is not the be all end all of checks and balances. Just make sure you do what you feel is right and you can give in a way that you feel is right. Don't feel pressured and don't fall for a scam.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and hopefully you'll feel better about helping a group out; whether that is at home or half a world away.