Online donations - Where is my money going?

Humanitarian organizations rely on online donations to effect change, but that is not enough. The call to action must include information and compassion.

Fundraising team
UNICEF South Africa/2015/Schermbrucker
04 August 2020
‘Change requires action. Action requires compassion. Compassion requires information.’ This profound ‘flow chart’ observation by Paul David Tripp is based on practical logic and human motivation. Humanitarian organizations, charities, and NPOs generally operate from the first step: ‘change requires action,’ and that call to action is online donations. But that is not enough. 

For real change to happen, the narrative has to extend beyond online donations. Financial giving - in the form of once-off donations or monthly pledges - is the vital means to an end (change). But unless that end can find compassion en-route, rooted in legitimate, credible and trustworthy information, the means will dry up very quickly. 

Inbox and social media requests for online donations cannot be in a vacuum, and should not be based on guilt-motivating rhetoric or messaging. The stories behind the images and the facts behind the campaign or cause, all need to connect. That is when compassion grows, that is when people will take action, and that is when we will see change. It is simple cause and effect, and it has to start with information. 

Information leads to compassion

Even though humanity is wired to feel compassion, psychologist, Paul Slovic, has suggested that ‘our capacity to feel sympathy for people in need appears limited and this form of compassion fatigue can lead to apathy and inaction.’  

This is a common experience in developing countries, like South Africa, where poverty and corruption seem pervasive and have impacted vulnerable communities for so long. Appealing to the ‘haves’ to help the ‘have-nots’ in the form of online donations must be based on facts - assuring you that your money does have a direct impact. 

An organization like UNICEF South Africa is well aware of the cynicism around donations and pledges. Why should they be trusted with your online donation? That is why their humanitarian mission - for every child - is based on public transparency, independent governance, and on-the-ground facts.

UNICEF South Africa/2007/Hearfield

Here are some of the facts, and it is hard to not be moved to compassion when one sees what your online donations are achieving:

In responding to the COVID-19 crisis in the last 4 months, UNICEF South Africa has taken your generous online donations and ploughed them into 4 key areas to advocate for the protection of children’s rights:

Health: As COVID-19 restrictions impacted under-resourced communities, UNICEF immediately initiated 240 WASH handwashing stations and hygiene Buckets of Care across 40-60 informal settlements in all 9 provinces, supporting up to 60 000 households. The cost? R4.8 million. 

Nutrition: Malnutrition and stunting are ongoing issues in SA. Ensuring nutritional services remain an integrated part of UNICEF SA’s action plan, R5.9 million needs to be raised to support optimal infant and young children (IYCF) practices, virtual training for community health workers, and generating evidence on the potential impact of COVID-19 on the nutritional status of children, adolescents and women. 

Child Protection: UNICEF SA is committed to the psychosocial support of children who are the victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. The statistics are alarming. Financial support, raised through online donations, has helped train more counsellors at Childline South Africa with up to 90 counsellors currently working day and night in 9 call centres nationwide. 33 0000 Council of Social Service professionals received support with child protection training. A further R6 million is still required for training, advocacy, mediation, and social work in promoting family-based care.

UNICEF South Africa/Hearfield

Education: As children have been unable to attend school during lockdown levels, UNICEF South Africa has used online donations to broadcast lessons through radio, TV and 2Enable platforms, as well as creating and distributing ECD learning and play materials to parents who have no access to online platforms. Online educational content for grades R to 8 was also developed. 

These are just some of UNICEF SA’s COVID-19 resource mobilisation initiatives. 

Compassion leads to action

Transparent disclosure of the numbers and figures for valid areas of focus justifies the spend and has the capacity to move the heart of people towards action. Hopefully, once you see where online donations will be spent, you will focus on the real potential and tangible difference that you will make to a specific child, community or cause. 

If you know that pledging as little as R200/month is going to provide nutritious school meals for a month for a child, or vaccinations for babies at rural clinics, will your empathy propel you to take action?

Action leads to change

Action presupposes compassion and investment in a cause. Commitment to action means an organization’s cause is justified and beneficial. You are then prepared to be a partner of change, and your online donation becomes an instrument of change. 

There is no denying the coronavirus pandemic has introduced unimaginable challenges and action is required to creating a better future. Knowing that your online donation will end up where it is intended is a huge motivator.

UNICEF South Africa

UNICEF South Africa’s appeal for online donations enables immediate and sustainable solutions in responding to humanitarian needs. Your online donation is an integral part of any campaign gaining momentum and helping those who need it most. 

No organization can operate without a financial donor base, and UNICEF South Africa’s commitment is one of transparent accountability to those who generously support us. 

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Join us in making an impact on the lives of the most vulnerable children in South Africa.