It’s that time of year again when we make donations because the tax deduction will be forthcoming sooner rather than later. Every year I post my advice on how to make the most of your charitable giving… so buckle up. Here are my top 7 giving tips and then my top 7 charities list for 2023.
1. Don’t round up. At the check out of major supermarkets and some online stores, you may be prompted to round up your total to donate a few cents to charity. If this is the only time you donate to charity, then go right ahead. Otherwise, tap no. When you make a donation through an enormous supermarket chain, you transfer the tax deduction to the whopping corporation. You are much better off making a direct donation to a cause that matters to you and enjoy the tax return in your own pocket. The same goes for buying things like undies and feminine hygiene products to donate. You are better off donating cash that can contribute to much better buying power for the organisation then collect the tax deduction while you’re at it.
2. Leave your cynicism for charity back in 2004 when the Shane Warne Foundation was created. The Australian Charities and NFPs Commission keeps a close eye on charities and you can too by eyeballing their annual statements. Don’t ask this classic old school dopey question: ‘how much of my donation is spent on admin and how much will actually go to those in need?’ Instead ask the smart question: ‘What impact will my donation have?’ There’s a big difference and it all starts with your attitude to charitable work and your understanding of sustainable practices. Be suspicious of a charity that touts the words ‘100% of your donation goes to the work’ because these are usually not sustainable business models. Smart charities produce an annual report and a separate impact report every year.
3. Being generous is good for your health. I cover this in speeches often: generosity and kindness starts to lower your blood pressure and kick off the happy hormone combo from the time you start planning to be kind. You get another health kick when you execute and another every time you think back on your generosity. It’s a miracle of evolution that humans benefit physically when they look after each other. And note that high blood pressure will kill you so consider donations to charity as a health insurance policy.
4. Give monthly. This really helps charity teams sleep at night. Imagine if you were only paid once a year, at the end of June. You’d be pretty flipping miserable by January and utterly desperate by May. Also, when you give monthly, you usually receive a reminder high five email from the charity and there goes your health proving again.
5. Don’t give small amounts to lots of charities. Give a chunky amount to one or two. This cuts down on financial processing costs and gives you focus for your energy. Then, get involved in those one or two charities. Read their emails, share their social content, attend their events and volunteer. Donating to a cause has far more meaning and reward when you have skin in the game.
6. Use your influence. Donating your own dosh is a wonderful thing but consider where you can apply your influence? Can your workplace make a donation to a women’s shelter on International Women’s Day? Can you partner with a charity for your next major event? Use your influence to connect money with a good cause.
7. Whack ‘em in ya will, will ya. Add a line in your will which says something like: “I bequeath to [Charity Name], ABN [Charity ABN], the sum of [$ Amount], to be applied in such a manner as its Directors may determine.” As I always say, don’t give with strings attached. Let the board decide where those funds are needed most. You’ll be dead so you won’t need to worry.
And now… drum roll…here’s the Lucy Bloom 2023 list of charities I have closely eyeballed or worked with directly and can therefore recommend for your generous support. This doesn’t mean that the charities you currently love and support are not the duck’s nuts. It just means I think these 7 organisations are the cat’s pyjamas for impact. All are registered in Australia and give tax receipts for donations $2 and over.
1. HEALTHCARE IN AFRICA – It really is tough to educate people if they are dead so my number one charity is always one which works in women’s health. Keep women happy and healthy during pregnancy and childbirth, keep those babies alive and well! I have been a long time supporter of Love Mercy Foundation which funds brilliant work in northern Uganda. It was founded by Aussie olympian, Eloise Wellings and Ugandan former child soldier and Olympian Julius Achon. Love Mercy has an annual revenue of under $1M so in my book this is a grass-roots charity that earns the Lucy Bloom stamp of approval for mega impact. Your donation goes a long way in a country like Uganda. http://lovemercyfoundation.org
2. HOMELESSNESS IN AUSTRALIA – I personally recommend supporting the work of Father Chris Riley and Youth off the Streets. They do such important work with vulnerable young people including running schools, meal vans, crisis accommodation and much more. Youth Off the Streets has a revenue of around $18M so this is a medium-sized charity. (For comparison, The Salvos has an income of $100M.) Youth Off the Streets radically changes young lives and the impact is impressive. Close your eyes and imagine living on the street. Awful. Now go donate: https://youthoffthestreets.com.au/donate/
3. INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS – The National Sporting Chance Academy gives holistic support to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in five key ways – counteracting racism, health, education, employment and cultural understanding. They’re indigenous governed too. Impact for this smallish charity with revenue under $3M is top notch. Do your best Australia! https://nasca.org.au/donate/
4. MEDICAL RESEARCH – If men suffered from endometriosis, we would have a cure by now. You can quote me on that. On average, it takes more than six years to reach a diagnosis because painful periods are quickly dismissed as standard. Stuff that! Endometriosis Australia has revenue under $1M so it is a small entity but impact is high, funding research and support for those who live with this illness. Bindi Irwin recently spoke of her decade-long battle Endometriosis and she’s a national treasure. Make a donation here to end endo: https://endometriosisaustralia.org/
5. ENVIRONMENT – just the largest elephant in the room and we are all screwed if we ignore this issue. I back the work of Rainforest 4, an Australian charity which buys rainforests which come up for sale. Would you believe the Daintree in Far North Queensland is zoned for development? On less than $3M in revenue per annum, this organisation relies almost entirely on public donations to buy rainforest and to fund reforestation works. Check out their impact here. Take a deep breath of real air and then go buy some rainforest: https://www.rainforest4.org/make_a_donation
6. ANIMAL WELFARE – Humans are such arseholes to animals who are literally sitting ducks for human cruelty. Just being human means we are encroaching on habitats. I recommend the work of the Orangutan Project. You can adopt an Orangutan and the project can even connect you with volunteering in Borneo and Indo. At around $7M in revenue this is a small-medium charity that receives the Lucy nod for impact. Look at those darling Orangutans and go adopt one here: https://www.orangutan.org.au
7. WILD CARD – Orange Sky gives hygiene to the homeless via laundry and showers. They measure their impact in terms of loads of washing (more than 60,000 per year), showers (6.5K every year) and hours of conversation with the homeless (almost 90,000 a year). It operates on such a simple premise but attracts $10M in funding making it a medium size enterprise. If you’ve ever had to wear your undies three days in a row or can’t imaging life without a hot shower and drier on rainy days, make a donation here: https://orangesky.org.au/
Lastly, if you are feeling the pinch financially, donate blood instead. Nothing says ‘skin in the game’ like giving your own plasma or half a litre of the juicy red stuff. You would literally be a lifesaver. Click here to check your eligibility and book in your visit to a local blood bank.
Lucy Bloom is an international keynote speaker and consulting CEO who has raised millions of dollars for charity. To engage Lucy to consult to your CEO, your board of directors or to your fundraising team, get in touch here. Or you can read Lucy’s memoir here. There’s a whole chapter on CHARITY.