So many donors have big dreams of wiping out disease, hunger, poverty and inequality around the world. And, while this is a valiant goal and vitally important, scholars and philanthropists are encouraging people to focus on local giving.
We often look to mega-donors like Michael Bloomberg and Bill Gates and are encouraged to make a difference in the world that is equivalent to their charitable contributions. But, while they have made a global impact, they also have focused substantial portions of their donations to causes they care about in their local communities.
According to investment manager, entrepreneur, philanthropist and art collector Jeff Greenstein, “Concentrating on local charities and organizations enables street-level and in-depth understanding, as well as the ability to develop expertise in terms of assessing needs and the organizations attempting to tackle those needs.” Every community is different and unique, which means that each community has different and unique needs. Looking at your local community gives you the opportunity to optimize your donation and make sure that it is going to a cause that you are passionate about, as well as a cause that will have the greatest impact on the community you live and work in.
Staying local also allows you to have a greater impact. Because they have less overhead than global organizations, more of your donation is going toward the cause you’re donating to. Every donor loves the idea that their gift is going directly to the people or cause that they are passionate about, and when you’re donating to a large, global organization, some of your gift is inevitably going toward overhead and other administrative costs.
According to Greenstein, keeping it local is also a great way to build relationships with those within the organizations you are donating to or volunteering with. You can stop in at the office, see the projects in action, attend volunteer events, etc. You also have the opportunity to meet the people involved with the organization and feel more involved with the organization. Your role as a donor in local organizations is deeper, more personal and more impactful. And when you’re putting time, money and passion into something, feeling a connection with the organization is incredibly important.
Donating to any charitable organization that you feel passionate about is honorable and significant, but we recommend putting some extra focus on your local nonprofits and engaging in that “street-level” philanthropy that directly encourages positive change in the community where you live and work.