Unless yours is a hyperlocal candidate, or you are uber-rich, giving to a political action campaign probably isn’t going to get you any measurable results in your own community or promote your interests and needs.
How to Really Make a Difference
Based on your level of donation, here are 8 things you might be better off doing with your money:
- $150: purchase an irrigation pump for a rural farmer—These are treadle pumps that allow farmers to irrigate their farmland, maximize their growing season, and expand the types of crops they can grow. Heifer.org has this and many other opportunities to invest in people, including improving sanitation and access to clean water.
- $125: pay for a dental exam and cleaning for an uninsured child—About one third of Americans are without dental insurance. Missing the opportunity for prevention and treatment results in more extractions, a greater risk of gum disease, and more than 735,000 ER visits due to dental emergencies.
- $120.00: give a goat and change a family’s life—Goats provide nutrition, and their milk can be sold to help purchase medicine and other necessities. If you can’t swing the whole goat, you can purchase a share of a goat through Heifer.org for as little as $10.00.
- $100: purchase school supplies for a grade school in your community—More than half of public school students come from low-income families, so you know having the necessary supplies is a hardship. And teachers are already paying to supplement their classrooms’ supplies. A 24-count box of crayons is $2.49 at Staples.
- $100.00: purchase a kitchen sink for a Habitat for Humanity home—Home ownership isn’t just the American dream: It’s considered a path out of poverty. Habitat home owners are required to put in dozens of hours of “sweat equity”; and, these homes are not giveaways: Home owners must make monthly mortgage payments.
- $60.00: purchase chicks and ducklings for a needy family—Consider Heifer’s Flock of Everything, which includes chicks, ducklings, and goslings. Eggs are immediately available for food or to sell, and the recipient is required to donate the first offspring to another needy family.
- $25.00: help a budding seamstress buy equipment to expand her business—Through Kiva.org, you can choose a borrower from hundreds of people looking to grow their businesses, go to school, or convert to clean energy. Your money is guaranteed to be returned, or you can continue to invest in other burgeoning entrepreneurs.
- $25.00: fund supplies for a Habitat home—A bathroom faucet, a set of paint brushes. Not sexy but surely a must if you’re building a home.
Ideas For the Big Spenders
Of course, on a larger scale so much more can be done: implement a free lunch program for hungry kids, give teachers pay raises, improve drainage and prevent ruination of homes, build parks. Where will you invest?