/ Juvat / by Niklas Ruf & Stefan Shaw

How to give?

Of course we don't have all the answers when it comes to spending. Spending is a private decision which is usually the sum of many previous considerations. The decision about whether to donate locally, for example, or to an organization to which one is personally connected. Or whether one likes to provide support within a specific topic or focus on a specific target group. Additionally, a decision for one thing is inevitably a decision against another - often unconsidered - thing. Ultimately each donation can only go to one place.

So if a donor decides, as one example, to fund aid aimed at helping homeless people in Germany, he also makes the decision that his donation won't be available for use in a remote region in the world where sickness and hunger are a matter of life and death. Or in another instance, animal welfare may be a particularly important issue and so a second donor could decide to invest in modernizing kennels at local animal shelters; however, this means the same funding cannot be used to eliminate cages from industrial poultry farms. In summary: whenever we decide for something, it is usually done deliberately; however, with that decision, there are always connected issues that we may not have considered that we are nevertheless deciding against. There is, of course, no clear right or wrong, but it's important to keep in mind that each decision carries with it the weight of the options not selected as well. 

There are always a number of good and understandable reasons for any donation decision. Frequently, however, there is also a lack of important additional information, such as the fact that a significant number of non-profit projects are unable to provide proof of impact. Or the fact that the strength of the Euro or the Dollar in a foreign country will achieve significantly more than it otherwise would within Europe or the United States. Or, as another example, that disaster relief following a catastrophe is, more often than not, over financed as opposed to under financed.

In the five years of our existence, we have always carefully considered how we can achieve as much impact as possible with the funds entrusted to us at the Benckiser Stiftung Zukunft - and we've learned a lot along the way. Therefore we’ve tried to summarize our experience in 10 simple questions. Generally, we send these questions to interested philanthropists who want to talk with us about donating effectively - as a short, spontaneous thought-experiment before a personal meeting.

But we'd also like to engage with our readers in the context of our blog, where perhaps, in just a few short minutes, our questions can provide a good jumping-off-point for thinking about the most fundamental question of all: How can I ensure that I achieve as much (impact) as possible with my donation?

Our Z-Questions, "How to give?" can be found here.