By: Brigid Murphy, Guest Blogger
When preparing for the holidays, many people, including myself, are thinking about charitable giving. My question is: which organization has the most impact with your money?
With so many environmental organizations to donate to it’s really hard to choose! It’s also hard to know where your money is going. Does it just get absorbed into the organization? Or does it go directly to the source in need?
I want to give money to an organization that will have a big environmental impact. In addition to environmental aid and protection, many organizations also involve community development in troubled parts of the world by helping support families and communities in need, using education and eco-tourism as a way to protect nature. This type of work seems to be a win-win as it helps prevent environmental degradation but also supports and empowers people by giving them different options. This is the kind of organization I want to donate to.
After doing some research, I came up with a few organizations where donated money seems to go a long way.
1. The Snow Leopard Trust
This organization works to protect the very endangered snow leopard. The Snow Leopard Trust works to find ways for humans and snow leopards to co-exist by working with small herding communities that surround snow leopard territory in Central Asia. They provide livestock insurance to farmers that greatly depend on their livestock for income, which are occasionally preyed upon by snow leopards. They also empower people of these communities to make hand-crafted items which are sold to generate sustainable profits. This organization benefits both people and animals.
“Our community-based conservation programs aim to break this cycle of poverty and create incentives for herders to protect local wildlife and ecosystems.” snowleopard.org
2. Health in Harmony
This organization focuses on a win-win approach. Their work is based in Borneo where they are dedicated to helping communities in need and protecting sacred rainforests. They believe that there is a link between healthy humans and healthy ecosystems. One of the things this organization prides itself on, which seems to be a great first step in helping conservation, is radically listening. They listen to the problems of the communities they work with to try to understand what causes environmental destruction. They have discovered that by providing basic health care to these communities, it has greatly decreased the pressure to destroy the environment.
“Health In Harmony is one of the few organizations in the world operationalizing the links between the health of humans, ecosystems, and the planet.” healthinharmony.org
3. To Skin a Cat
Though this organization has a bit of an off-putting name, their research and documentary film has helped to bring awareness to an overlooked issue. A large demand for leopard fur used in traditional dances as part of the Shembe religion has put a major strain on the leopard population in Southern Africa. Leopard researcher, Tristan Dickerson, has gone to work to try and create a very realistic faux leopard fur. The challenge is trying to convince this community to use it in their traditions.
“How do we respect and preserve traditions and critical cultural practices, while simultaneously preserving our wildlife?” toskinacat.org
4. Minnesota Zoo – Protecting Black Rhinos Project
The Minnesota Zoo is an amazing organization, contributing to lots of conservation efforts across the world. How do you even choose which conservation campaign to donate to within this organization? The work that the Minnesota Zoo does with Protecting Black Rhinos directly impacts the people that live on rhino land. Based in Namibia, this project empowers the local people to protect the rhinos. They supply them with jobs as rhino rangers, they also educate these people about the benefits of living near rhinos.
“It all starts with understanding what local people value and then identifying rhino-friendly activities that can directly improve their lives. Many local people have seen how tourism can be a good way to improve lives.” mnzoo.org/conservation/around-world/desert-black-rhino/
These are just a few organizations that have an impact on communities, as well as the wildlife that surrounds them. I believe that by understanding what these people are challenged within their everyday lives, sometimes just for basic survival, and by giving these communities alternative options, is a way that this type of conservation work will be sustainable.