Civil society

Donate more

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Photo:  GIVA

Photo: GIVA

For those of you who are reading my blog - now you know where to get proper information to educate yourself. I will continue to post about where you can educate yourself and learn more about sustainable development.

One thing that most people can do but is seldom discussed is private donation to charity. Unfortunately to give away money has become a little bit out of fashion. At the second hand market this is obvious, people donate gifts for the sake of the environment instead of funding humanitarian projects. I believe this is a shift that has happened the last few years.

Donations has also been associated with “paying off” your debt. To donate is the same thing as not trying to change yourself or your business, instead of taking your responsibility you chose to pay to clear your consciousness. This used to be the principle of CSR - corporate social responsibility - where businesses are funding social projects they believe in. Now it has changed and CSR is more about the business own sustainability.

However, just to focus on the power of consumers, your political voice and your eagerness to share sustainability on social media, you’re missing a fundamental important aspect of where change is taking place; at the civil society! Civil society consist of associations/organisations without any interest in profit making, rather they’re representing an idea or value based on their members interests. It might be related to culture, the environment, social issues and so on, but the purpose with different organisations in civil society is to gather people around a common cause.

Most of these organisations gets funding from their local municipality or the government. The ones who doesn’t accept these funding, like Amnesty, do so to be impartial and free of political influence. Some of the organisations might get funding from other funds, established in the past to save culture heritage or empowering women who wants to educate themselves. Other’s get funding from corporations or businesses and in many cases this can be the primary source of funding and fundamental for some activities existence. Postkodlotteriet and H&M are two of these companies with their own funds that some organisations in the civil society relay on.

What happens when the public stop donating money? A lot of the funding goes away and less activities are happening. And more dangerous; it becomes harder and harder for the civil society to be independent. The government has their agenda and so does the corporations! Private donations are essential to keep the core value of an organisation. It’s about establishing trust where the public sector are represented by the civil society. Because what do the organisations consists of? Members from the public sectors who votes for the strategy and agenda!

When you only focus on you as a consumer you’re missing out a whole sector of change making which is the power of people coming together under a certain cause. Therefore one of the best things you can do is to donate and support associations that are fighting for things you find important. Instead of one beer donate to a organisation and instead of a take away coffee every Monday, donate to a cause.

What do you get:

  • Professionals writing reports

  • Professionals educating the public

  • Campaigns to push policy makers

  • Activities that gathers other change makers

  • Materials you can use as a consumer, voter or at your profession

  • Professionals creating long-term change

  • Global development

  • Organisations addressing issues that regardless of how ethical you consumption behaviour becomes they’re the only ones that truly can help a desperate person or a river in a foreign country

  • Empowerment of other people that doesn’t live in free democarcy’s

Sometimes we are so narrow minded in the debate about sustainability and forget to help to fund local sustainability in other areas where funding is desperately needed.

Some people complain about that the money mainly going to administration costs, but do you ask yourself the same question when buying a shirt? Because at the moment the money goes to the business and not the workers. Do you ask yourself the same question when buying vegetables, how much of the money that goes to the farmers? To donate money is the same thing as buying an idea so then you should follow the principle in all cases.

Further, the administration costs are very low, between 12-25%. In Sweden you can look at, what we call IKS - this number says how much the organisation but on administration. But this figure is not very relevant anyway because it doesn’t say anything about quality. It doesn’t say anything about what have the rest of the money contributed to.

As for someone working in the civil society - I personally know the benefits of keeping a high quality with well paid jobs compared on being cheap and looking for short term solutions. Because they might be cheap in the short run but doesn’t really contribute to the long term sustainability and cost efficiency of the organisation.

Here are some statistics of the Swedes will to donate:

  • 8.8 billion SEK was donated to charity in 2018

  • 2 of 3 Swedes donate money

  • 8 of 10 are positive about donating money

  • 6 of 10 have donated the last 6 months

  • 100 SEK per month is the most common donation sum (figures from 2015 says 700 SEK per person and year)

  • The amount of donated money have increased the last few years

It seems like we’re pretty good at helping out financially but the sum of money is very little. And why don’t everybody contribute? The poorest should of course look after themselves first but why don’t we donate more money per person? I don’t want to refer to any religion but the magic 10% (what you should give away of your income) makes a lot of sense and is mentioning in various traditions.

The more we give, the more we are contributing to a better world. And in my case I see nothing wrong with a lot of people working in the civil society since the fundamental reason for it’s existence is to serve the interest of the public.

If we want a more sustainable world - civil society has an important role to play.