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I want to donate to countries which have economic difficulties especially Greece. For a start 50 bucks or so. Because I have a large salary and not many expenses.

How can I donate to charity in Greece making sure that it is not a corrupt organization? Where in Greece can my 50 bucks make the best benefit?

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  • Purely anecdotal, but the American Red Cross is always a highly rated charity (ie a huge portion of the money donated goes directly to programs to help people). Greece has a Red Cross as well - redcross.gr Jan 28, 2015 at 16:08
  • You want to donate to help a particular kind of person? Or to help pay off their debt? A lot of this depends on what you're trying to accomplish: some would argue donating to an educational charity is superior (as that helps their future) while others might argue donating to an organization that helps the poor, or a healthcare organization... each have benefits, depending on what you believe is important.
    – Joe
    Jan 28, 2015 at 16:17
  • I want to help people in Greece "help themselves" wishing that I could be more specific. Just sending money could be counterproductive. I used to donate to Swedish Red Cross but they were totally corrupt and bribed and put money in their own pocket ("Johan af Donner"). I suppose they are ok now and I can donate again to Swedish Red Cross again now. Jan 28, 2015 at 19:38
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    Consider donating to charities that work in the developing world. Greece has economic problems compared to its neighbors, but on an absolute scale it is still extremely wealthy. givewell.org/about/givewell-overview#whatdowedo Feb 11, 2015 at 13:19
  • +1 for thinking about what you can do to help people, not only as a one-time impulse gift, but as a planned, ongoing part of your monthly budget. Admirable. Feb 26, 2015 at 17:11

4 Answers 4

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OP wants to do something very honourable, applause for that.

Being a Greek I have insider knowledge about the impact of various organisations. Fact is, for people from abroad what is the most highly recommended action would be to support organisations of an international network (red cross, doctors w/out borders etc), because the health system is suffering seriously nowadays -or access to it-, and providing redundancy in that respect can certainly make a difference, via global health efforts.

The next best thing you can do, to yourself and others, is basically to take a vacation in Greece and visit both a big city (here's where the problems will be visible) and an island (here's where you'll realise that you are in a place of stunning natural beauty). By taking this action you achieve two things: you put the economy in motion - a small vote, yet it counts - and you actually are a first-person observer. Enough is enough with victimisation via the news coming from inside or outside Greece! People need get the whole respective.

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I can't say specifically about charities to help Greece. If someone on here has specific knowledge, please chime in.

The only shortcut I know to tell if a charity is legitimate is to consult one of the ratings/watchdog type groups that monitor charities. For example, for explicitly Christian charities, there's a group called the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. To be a member in good standing a charity has to meet a bunch of criteria, like having an independent board of directors, i.e. you can't start a charity, make yourself the president and your brother-in-law the vice president and you're not answerable to anyone else; their fund-raising and administrative costs can't be more than a certain percentage of total income, etc. There are similar groups with similar standards for more general charities.

I'm not naming any of those groups because there's a potential catch: How reputable is the group that rates other people's reputations? And I don't want to recommend someone without knowing. Years ago I came across a news story about an organization that rated colleges, and that had given one particular college their top rating. But, the news story said, investigators found that that one college was the ONLY college they ever gave a rating to, and that their address was the same as the college's address. It turned out, of course, that the college was a scam.

The other method is to take some time to investigate the charity.

For starters, get a copy of their annual report or their newsletter. If they're total frauds, often they don't have an annual report or a newsletter. Of course a fraud could make up beautiful flyers describing all the wonderful work they do, with pictures of people they helped and detailed case histories, and it's all complete fiction. But that's more work than most con men go to. I've gotten lots of pleas for contributions from people who call on the phone or come to my door or send an email. If the message does not have a logo, a mailing address and phone number, reasonably coherent English, and a fair amount of text describing what they do, I don't give them anything. They COULD be a new start up that hasn't had time to prepare these things. They COULD believe that pretty flyers are a waste of money and they want to put all their resources into helping the needy. But more likely it's a scam that somebody through together in his basement.

Of course the best thing is if you personally know people who are officers in the organization. (Well, assuming you personally know them AND you know that they are honest people. If you know the president and you know he's a sleazy con man, you might want to stay away from that group.)

See if you can find information about the charity in the news or on-line. If they're being investigated for fraud by the Justice Department, you might want to avoid them. Etc.

Maybe you've thought this through, but you also might want to think about exactly who in Greece you want to help, and what your philosophy of charity is. Do you want to help people who lost their jobs because of the economic problems there and who are now unemployed? Do you want to donate to the government to help them balance the budget? Do you want to help support an orphanage or a homeless shelter, or give money directly to needy people? Etc.

And one piece of unsolicited advice: Unless you have millions to give -- and I'm assuming you don't as you said your first gift would be $50 -- I'd pick one or two charities and give regularly to them. I think you can do more good by giving $X per month to a single charity than to give to a different charity every month. You make more difference.

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In the. US, i'd suggest hitting the Charity Navigator website for evaluation of how efficiently various charities will use your money. At this point I won't donate money to anything that gets less than three stars unless I know the organization very well indeed -- and I've been progressively swapping out 3-star groups for 4-star organizations in the same category.

Many of the groups reviewed by CN are international, so you might find it useful even if you're donating from/to elsewhere.

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Belated answer I know, but I highly recommend you check out givewell.com, a non-profit dedicated solely to finding the most efficient charity you can donate to. Unlike resources like Charity Navigator, that only really look at if a company is wasting too much money on non-charity sources, givewell dives deeper doing more through analysis of the charity and asking questions such as rather the charities stated mission is viable to begin with.

To help you understand why that matters I'll cite an example from Givewell's own blog explaining the concept. They gave the example of a non-profit that provided seeing eye dogs for blind people. That's a very nice thing to do sure, but they pointed out the cost of training a seeing eye dog was about five times as much as they cost of treating a disease (sorry can't recall which at this time) which, if left untreated, would cause blindness. Thus for the cost of providing a partial aid to an already blind person it is possible to prevent multiple people from becoming blind in the first place. Since most would define not being blind as clearly superiors to blind w/ seeing eye dog they argued that the charity that prevented blindness was clearly superiors. Even if the seeing eye dog charity reached some ungodly level of efficiency in how they utilized donations to achieve their mission, scoring a perfect score from sites like charity navigator, their mission was simply too inefficient to ever make them the most effective solution to addressing blindness.

The only real downside of Givewell is that they only look at charities they believe could be optimal, and which have very good documentation and resources that can be reviewed for efficacy. That means they have not 'ranked' most charities, having effectively written them off as not worth the cost of reviewing since they don't believe it's likely those charities will meet their standard. If you wanted to know 'how efficient is charity X' Givewell probably can't help you since odds are it wrote of X as not worth the detailed research they do and have no details about it.

If instead you only want to know the name of a charity that is guaranteed to do a massive amount of good though givewell.com is a godsend. You will get 2-5 charities guaranteed to make optimal use of your money to pick from, picking any of them will do more good then practically any other charity you could have picked. Givewell also does a good job of providing resources for you to review on their own efficacy, with a great blog explaining their mindset and admitting when they make mistakes and how they will improve their performance. I've gone through all this before and personally believe in them. In fact Givewell is practically the go to name in the effective altruism movement.

If your feeling extra lazy you can just donate money to Givewell's 'maximum impact' fund and let them grant it out to the optimal charities without bothering to look at the charities they are currently recommending.

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