How are we supposed to help?

As we get older and perhaps our expenses start to decline, some of us find ourselves in a position where we would like to give back. Giving back is a good thing but it’s not always obvious how we should do that. If we take the easy way out and give to local charities or globally recognized charities, the posted stats show that a larger percentage than I am comfortable with goes to the organization. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t give to local charities, just that I’m looking for more.

So what is the best way to give back? Spoiler alert… I don’t know the answer.

I would like to think that research gives us a bit of insight into the needs of a particular area but for every article you read there is another one that calls the first one a scam. It’s clear that there are people in need around the world and it’s clear that you can’t “Teach a man to fish” when he has no food, water, access to a body of water and no fishing equipment.

Venezuela seems to be an obvious hot spot at the moment, but sending anything there, even to friends, often gets intercepted. The currency is worthless and it seems that there is nothing to buy even if you have money.

Other places like Brazil and Colombia are doing an amazing job opening their doors to refugees, but migrating is not an easy choice and once the people have migrated, getting aid to them has more challenges.

I looked into programs that help with home builds but they take a percentage as an overhead fee and they are really expensive. In many cases they are vacations with a tax that contributes to home construction.

Maybe this exists already and if it does please send me a URL.

It would be nice to have a certified open source like community that maintains a web page with links to people in need, suggestions on how to make a long term difference  and volunteer opportunities that make sense.

The site (Like Wikipedia) would have to be moderated and endorsed by governments of countries that want to attract longer term solutions to local problems.

A place where people who want to donate know that every single dollar is going to contribute to a long term solution. This site would describe programs in a way that defined the goal, the need and the proposed solution. It would detail the risks (government intervention for example) and predict the probability of success. It would be open to the general public so that anyone could define a program. Programs would be vetted by neutral third parties and ranked using a published formula.

For people who want to volunteer, it would detail the risks, make travel and accommodation suggestions and contain guidelines that would give volunteers a good idea for potential risks to personal health and safety.

This would not be a site for vacation planning, it would be a site focused on making a difference.

I realize that conditions at each location (Governments, skilled labour, & lack of resources, to name just a few), contribute to the likelihood of success, so those things would need to be worked into the formula for success.

If such a site existed, governments of countries with people in need might actually use the formula to consider changes that would lead to people getting help?

Perhaps the formula itself could motivate long term change.

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