Global vs. Local Charity- Is One Better Than the Other?

Arthur Bogoraz- Global vs. Local Charity

When choosing which charity to divert your time and/or funds to, a major consideration is always where you will be able to do the most good. It only makes sense to give where there is an obvious need. According to, “Media tends to focus on sensational events.” When any charitable human being hears of a natural disaster or other tragedy in a foreign country, it is only logical that they would want to jump to the cause and do their part to alleviate the situation. Yet, one should not forget about the socioeconomic issues within their own neighborhood.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), America is the world’s most generous nation, with charitable giving by individuals as a percentage of GDP recorded at 1.44%. Where this money is spent varies, and there are some who feel that more money should be spent globally (in developing nations that are much poorer overall) than locally, while others feel that we should turn our attention to our own communities where needs often go unmet.

Peter Singer, a Princeton philosopher and author of the book The Most Good You Can Do, argues that we should be diverting more of our charitable contributions to global causes rather than local. Giving to international affairs dropped 3.6 percent in 2014 from the past year, with just 4 percent of the $358 billion in overall giving going towards global causes, according to The New York Times. This is likely due to the fact that there were no major national disasters in 2014 and many felt that their contributions would be futile in preventing the spread of Ebola. The REG organization (Raising for Effective Giving) asserts that charitable donations have more spending power in developing nations than they do within the United States because a life can be saved for about $3,400 in those countries while it would cost about 100 times more locally.

On the other hand, some, such as writer Nick Jabs, feel that local needs go unmet because they are not sensationalized by the media as global disasters are.

I like to think that there is no right or wrong answer to the question of giving locally or internationally. If we were to only give to one type of charity or focus most of our attention there, then a lot of people would be left suffering elsewhere. I agree with Jab’s statement that “The need to give is everywhere.” It’s a matter of finding a cause you care about and connecting to that cause. Whether you volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen or send a large check to a global relief cause rather than blowing it on something you don’t really need, your resources are going somewhere they can help. Instead of spending time worrying about where you should donate, give from your heart and worry more about how you can give to charity. Here are some things you can do to get started:

  • Take a walk or drive through your neighborhood and simply observe where there’s a need; if there’s a park where a large homeless population gathers, find out what you can do to help. Inquire at your local church about ways to get involved or go to your town hall or municipal building to learn more about local charities.
  • Download a charity app to seamlessly integrate giving into daily routine.
  • Check out a website like Charity Navigator or Volunteer Match to learn about both local, national and international charities.
  • Keep up with the news and social media to find opportunities to give.

There are so many ways to give to charity, from the local level to the global, and ultimately it all comes down to you. Don’t turn a blind eye to those who are suffering and know that no matter where you give, you’re helping to make a difference in someone else’s life.

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