After reading some of these stories you might want to take action to help, but it’s not always simple.
With thousands of NGOs, INGOs, and small grassroots groups working in Nepal, it’s not easy to make the right choice, and with some of the stories that abound about corruption, mismanagement of funds, or lack of transparency, it’s very important to be careful when choosing where you put your help.
We don’t want to put you off the idea of volunteering or donating to help, in fact, quite the opposite, we want you to do it as effectively as possible, making the most positive change through your efforts, and not contributing to further problems.
On this page we give a little practical advice on how to choose carefully where you put your money and efforts.
Choosing the right organisation
Local grassroots groups, like the ones in our stories, can make a big difference, but whether you choose an International NGO or a small community project, it’s important to research organisations thoroughly.
-Don’t just take them at their word or base your decision on an inspirational story with little data. Yes, your heart is what motivates you to give, but then you want to find out the facts.
-Contact the organisation directly and ask probing questions. If they cannot give satisfactory answers, it may be that they are more interested in profit than social change, and therefore not a good place for your money.
Some important questions to ask:
-What is the long-term sustainability of the project?
-What has the organisation actually achieved so far? Some may have a great sounding mission statement, but accomplish very little real change on the ground. You may be more comfortable supporting an organisation with tangible results.
-How does your organisation work with and empower locals? Are they just giving, or are they teaching skills so that their work has a long-lasting impact after the volunteers have left?
-Data is important, organisations should have numbers and detailed reports of their results.
-Ask for a breakdown of how they spend their funding. Some INGOs have huge administration costs, meaning that only a small percentage of donations reach those in need. If for instance, your money will be spent on “building homes”, ask what percentage of that goes to employee’s salaries, marketing and advertising budget, volunteer expenses/additional costs etc.
-Ask exactly where YOUR money will go. Some organisations have many different projects, sometimes in multiple countries. It may be that your donation ends up being used for purposes other than what you intended. (Schools/ houses/ women’s empowerment/ healthcare/ education/ sanitation)
-How can I follow up on progress? Can the organisation prove that they do what they say they will with your donation?
-Use friends and contacts on the ground or with experience for their advice, perhaps even ask them to check an organisation out for you, and get their feedback…
-Cross check your information, don’t just go on the “about” page on the organisation’s website.
Some advice on ethical volunteering from Next Generation Nepal
Choosing an “ethical volunteering” placement in a developing country is something that takes careful consideration. “Ethical volunteering” means two things: 1) volunteering with the right mindset; and, 2) taking the time and care to choose a placement that does not cause harm to others. To help you do this, here are some of NGN’s tips for ethical volunteering:
-Before volunteering, adopt a “learning mindset.”
-Contact the organisation directly and ask lots of questions.
-Research ethical volunteering options thoroughly.
-Consider your skill set and your compatibility with the organisation.
-Consider the sustainability of the project you want to work on. Does it make a difference in the long term?
-Be an ethical and an aware tourist.
To learn more about ethical volunteering, see Next Generation Nepal’s full page of advice:
We hope that this is helpful. If you would like to ask the coordinators of Reflections about specific questions you have or about our experience in Nepal, we can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org