Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Active Giver (Part 1)

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm currently looking for another charity to support.

I recognise that I am not your average giver, in that I am actively seeking and researching charities. I know that I want to give to an environmental charity. I had a fair idea of who the major players are (Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, WWF) but New Zealand has over 25,000 charities at the moment. I wanted to see what else was out there. I really wanted to make an informed decision, which has meant I've had to do some research.

So how does one narrow 25,000 charities down to just one?

I began by using the advance search feature on the Charities Commission website to find any charity whose sector included 'Environment / Conservation'. This produced a list of 3855 charities.

Then I went through the very long process of knocking that list down. My first step was to eliminate every charity which did not have a website listed on the charities register. The internet is my research tool - any charity which wants a chance at my money needs one. If you don't, there are many more on the list that do.

Doing this removed 2595 charities from the list, leaving me with 1260 charities left to choose from. Lesson here? 2 in 3 registered charities don't have a website.

I further reduced the list according to my personal values. For instance, I searched and removed any charity which exists to support religious groups. This isn't because I have anything against religious groups (I currently donate to Auckland City Mission, who are founded on Christian principles), but I have 1260 charities to get down to just one. Given I wanted to support environmental charities, my reasoning is they would have to be based on science - ruling out the religious aspect.

This bought me down to 910 charities. A little more culling, such as ruling out Iwi bought me down to 781 charities.

At this point, I had gone as far as my Excel skills could take me, and I needed to begin to go through line by line. I noticed here that there are a lot of organisations which are listed as a 'charity', when perhaps we need a separate category for 'Not for Profit'. I think there might be some way to do this using the advanced search feature, but if there is, I didn't use it.

So I removed all the clubs (nudist, flower, tramping) in the list, the Rugby Museum, all the businesses which for some reason have charitable status, and all the charities which I knew I wouldn't support ('Save Tamaki Drive' anybody?), and I was left with 216 charities.

Then, I cross-checked with the IRD Donee list. Ultimately, the 'winning' charity had to be on there in order to qualify for payroll giving. I was hoping to shave off a few more, but alas, every single one of them was listed.

From here, I plan to visit each and every one of those 216 websites. Or at least try. I already know some of the links are broken. I'm not going to Google them or go any further. I'm engaged, but it's going to take me days to go through this list. A broken link is just whittling down the list for me.

This post is one of what will probably be several. I think it's ridiculous that it's not easy to find useful information on charities in one place, and over and over I have found myself thinking that THIS is why people don't give. I don't respond at all to being harangued on the street. In fact, it's actually more likely to stop me giving all together. I respond to a good, informative website, which is easy to find, search and use.

So now, I am going to go back to narrowing down my options and finding a new charity to support. I'll report back with more findings later.

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