Consider this:​

You want to help people who struggle every day to have clean water, food, safety, education and reliable shelter.

You decide to sign up on a trip with a group of college kids to travel from Chicago to Haiti to build a cement-brick house for a family of six that currently lives in a shanty made of tarps and scrap pieces of metal and wood.

It takes a group of six of you four days to build the house, and at the end, that family has a new home to live in that has sturdy walls and a solid roof that doesn't leak.

The total cost for your group for the trip breaks down to:

  • $500/person for roundtrip flights

  • $1,000/person for program fees for the third-party that operates the volunteer opportunity to provide food and shelter to the group and to coordinate the project and provide rough materials

  • $1,500 x 6 people is a grand total of $9,000

Some of the rewards from your group:

  • A family now has reliable shelter

  • The group will take a lifetime of memories from the time they spent in Haiti donating their time, effort and funds

  • Since part of the funds cover administrative overhead, that organization is better able to continue functioning, including making others aware of the issue

This group acted out of selflessness and a genuine concern for the wellbeing of others. But what if there was another way to solve the outstanding issues more efficiently and more comprehensively?​

Compare the common narrative above to the following alternative approach:

You want to help people who struggle every day to have clean water, food, safety, education and reliable shelter.

You decide to raise funds for organizations that are providing clean water, food and reliable shelter to groups of individuals who suffer most severely from diseases from unclean water, malnutrition and lack of reliable shelter.

You have a spare bedroom in your home. You decide to offer the spare bedroom as a short-term rental for one night once every two weeks. With hotels in your area going for $149/night on average, and with Airbnbs going for $89/night on average, you decide to offer your spare room to a traveler for a $60/night donation to the charity of your choice. If you successfully book your spare room at that rate once every two weeks, you can raise $1,560 for charities that you choose in just one year!

You choose to split your donations evenly between the three causes that you're passionate about: clean water, food and reliable shelter.

 

  • Your $520 towards clean water can give 17 people clean water for a year through a donation to charity: water

  • Your $520 towards food can give 85 children food for a month through a donation to Food For The Poor

  • Your $520 towards reliable shelter can provide funds for 8% of a 3D-printed home for a family in Haiti through a donation to New Story

In addition to making a difference in each of these individuals' lives, you are doing so in a sustainable way. These organizations hire local staff, so you're not only helping the individuals that you're providing clean water, food and shelter to, but you're also giving local individuals the opportunity to work and provide for their families, and the tools to make changes in their community.