Is it time to rethink how we give to charity?

Is it time to rethink how we give to charity?

he one question I and my team at Save the Children UK get asked more than any other is: “When I give to charity, what difference does it really make?”

It’s right up there with “Why are you still guilt-tripping me?” and “Aren’t I better off giving to a smaller, more flexible, charity?”

All valid questions from smart people who want to make sure their money is making the biggest possible difference.

You’ve heard the story a thousand times: a child’s life hangs in the balance, all they need is the basics, and your immediate, one-off support could be the difference. And that’s the story that charities – including us – have been telling for years. Decades, even.

It’s not that it’s untrue. We couldn’t support children immediately after an earthquake, for example, without one-off donations from brilliant people. Those donations do save lives.

But that story doesn’t show the big picture. It often skims over the role of families and communities who are giving everything possible to support children. And crucially, over time, it’s skewed most people’s understanding of the role charities play in the modern world.

Because the truth is, short-term responses are only part of what we can achieve together. The big goal, after all, is to make the world a fairer place for everyone. A place where children and their families, no matter who they are, already have what they need to better cope when disaster strikes. And as climate change tightens its grip, and with children left most vulnerable, disaster is striking more often.

I’m just one person – what can I do?

Nur*, 11, takes part in activities at Save the Children’s Child Friendly Space, in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh / Jonathan Hyams / Save the ChildrenHuge systemic issues such as inequality and injustice can feel too large or too complicated to tackle. There’s no doubt that long-term fixes will take time, commitment, planning and investment in projects that change the course of children’s lives.That’s why we’ve launched The Fairness Fund, to make sure people who see the bigger picture can play their part in long-term progress.When you join Save the Children’s Fairness Fund you become an investor, because that’s exactly what you’re doing – investing in children and the future.In return, you’ll get to see firsthand how we’re making progress together. We’ll connect you to the children and the work you’re supporting, through concise, quarterly reports that show what we’re doing with your money. You’ll get exclusive insight into our programmes, news about innovations and partnerships with other organisations, and moments of celebration as we hit our milestones for children.Ambitious? Maybe…Andrian (3) is assessed during an Emergency Health Unit-supported nutrition survey in Zimbabwe / Sacha Myers / Save the ChildrenA fairer world is a big ambition. But we know what it takes. And, bit by bit, it will happen. In fact it already is.It’s happening in Somalia, where we’re working hand-in-hand with communities to grow more drought-resistant crops and build innovative irrigation systems, so families aren’t relying on crops being fed by rain alone. Because let’s be honest, we can’t stop climate change overnight, but we can support communities to find new ways to keep growing.It’s happening in Lebanon, where we’re supporting young people who have fled violence to start their dream businesses. We’re training hundreds of young entrepreneurs to access crowdfunding, build networks, draw up plans and launch their business so they can build a more secure future for themselves and their country.And it’s happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it’s normal for teenage girls to drop out of school and start looking after their household. But that doesn’t make it right. We’re supporting Congolese girls to stay in school for longer and leave whenever they say they’re ready – bringing child marriage rates down and financial equality up.The Fairness Fund also puts power behind the push for global change. It helps us join forces with other charities and governments so we can make the biggest possible difference. It helps us be nimble, working alongside smaller charities and communities, because every child is unique and so are their needs.It helps all of us make the world a fairer place, bit by bit. So, when you next give to charity, that’s the difference you could make.