Photo by Jon Warren, World Vision
In 2015, what does it really mean to make a difference? When poverty, trauma and hardship are scarcely concealed in our view, whether on social media, television, in newspapers, brochures, even sometimes to the naked eye, it is hard to believe that our modest efforts can really do much to make even the slightest impact to the state of the world. And even if we did do our small part, would that impact be enough to make a slight dent? Could we really make a difference?
Over the years, the opportunity to make a difference has been presented to us in many ways, from one off donations to specific causes, to ongoing child sponsorship that provides long lasting support to communities in the developing world. The opportunities have been presented to us so conveniently that they fit almost effortlessly into our over-active lifestyles; camouflaging themselves in the money-in money-out system we operate in. Our acts of generosity have blended into our everyday lifestyles so much so that our impact has absconded and we have lost sight of what kind of a difference we can really make.
This is why we should, as generous individuals, not lose sight of the impact we can truly make and avoid that feeling of helplessness that occasionally emerges from the depths of our consciences. Here are a few ways that I have come up with which help me stay connected to the causes I care for so dearly, and assist me in acknowledging that my small acts of kindness really do make a difference.
Measure your impact
Big data in the twenty-first century has allowed organisations to measure their impact more precisely than ever before. Keep up to date with the impact of the organisation you support, whether through annual reports or monthly newsletter updates. Even organisations such as World Vision now have impact calculators that help you measure what difference you can make.
Follow the UN Millennium Development Goals & Sustainable Development Goals
At the start of the new millennium world leaders got together and produced a framework of eight goals, which would set to improve the lives of people worldwide. These goals included the eradication of extreme poverty, universal access to education and reduction in child mortality rates amongst others. Fifteen years on and, although there is still work to be done, amazing amounts of progress have been made. You can find the 2015 progress report here. Later this year, the new Sustainable Development Goals will be launched with a vision to transform the world by 2030.
Read Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save
Written by the world famous Australian philosopher Peter Singer, this book sheds some raw and academic light on altruism today and what effects we can have on the global state of the world. It includes case studies from international scholars and provides a range of perspectives, as well as raises a variety of questions, on effective altruism in our society.
Whether it’s following a Twitter account, liking a Facebook page, signing up to a Newsletter or simply writing a letter to your sponsored child, all these acts help you to stay connected to what’s going on in the world around you. It’s not all doom and gloom, there are so many positive stories that come out of our generosity as human beings so spend a little bit of time reconnecting with the causes you love and be proud to be a part of positive change in the world.