Community Service is a great way to give back to society; giving of your time, talents and money to make someones bad situation a little better, but does anyone really look at some of these homes/shelters/schools? Everyone is so quick to dole out a couple of thousands when they hear a sad story or see a child abandoned without thought. Everything is all roses and you think your donation has done some good…you feel good, and why shouldn’t you? you’ve just helped feed a child or two. I don’t mean to belittle your efforts, but do you really think that’s all there is to it?
Transparency. What does this word mean with regard to a company, organization or say a children’s home? Whether your a multimillionaire dollar company supporting charities in Africa or the nice guy next door who decided to help the home in his neighborhood, you need to take interest in just what your money is being used for. Better yet, visit these places, take note of their needs or a project you can invest in and follow through…monitor the progress. If you’re a big donor, make surprise visits, that’s when you will actually see what goes on.
I was a little naive until doing community service at one particular place. the staff was friendly and great with the kids, the manager however was another story. The place was in need of repair and new space needed to be created along with several other things the staff would mention in passing. I did my homework and turns out they do get funding and even dolled the place up while I was still there because donors were coming for a ‘tour’. So where was all that money going? I sat with a group of friends and we shared experiences from several places…turns out similar things were happening. Donations of clothes would slowly disappear never reaching the intended parties; special needs chairs that were donated appeared to have been sold; despite donations of food or money to go to this the children would have a daily meal of ugali and skuma, with rice and beans on Friday as a treat… Something is wrong.
Aside from insisting on transparency, the staff need to be vetted and trained, and spot checks carried out to evaluate performance. Yes I know this sounds like a lot but some of these children and elderly people get ill treated by staff, or have items intended for them swiped in the dead of night (being dramatic). Also ensuring that they are adequately paid for their time and efforts and creating some sort of reward system for exceptional performance would boost moral.
Back to my point, if you want to give to a home or charity do your homework first then keep tabs on progress. Show real interest and the little you may do or give will actually benefit a few lives. Evaluate your reasons for wanting to ‘do something’ and find a place that suits that motivation.
What do you think the ordinary volunteer or donor can do to foster transparency in their home of choice? Share it in the comments.