How your community group can help
Guidelines for community groups offering assistance to charity organisations.
If you are part of a community group – an educational institution, service club, Scout group, or similar organisation – wanting to donate goods for a good cause, you probably have questions.
What can you do to help? How can you be sure you help in the right way, not the wrong way, so that your efforts do the greatest possible good?
We have tried to answer such questions below, but if you do not find yours listed, please contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to collect goods. Where do I start?
Before collecting goods, it is important to ask what goods are needed.
But who do you ask?
We suggest you identify a group which is willing to accept goods from you. You may have your own contacts but, if not, you are welcome to try the Global Hand Requests section which lists organisations and their needs.
Ask the organisation what goods they need. Always be guided by their assessment of need, rather than the goods that are most readily available to you.
The following is a checklist of questions to ask the group to which you plan to send the goods. (These were compiled from Interaction).
- What goods do you need to assist your work?
- In what quantity?
- Do the goods need to be of a certain quality? Some NGOs prefer new items, for example, while others prefer good quality second hand.
- Are there cultural sensitivities to consider? (Indian and Sri Lankan ladies, for example, wear saris, and can’t use Western clothing. Pork food products are not appropriate to send to Muslims in Indonesia and Pakistan, for instance, and beef is not appropriate for Hindus in India.)
- Are there packing and labelling requirements? (It may be necessary, for example, to tape a specific content list to the side of each box. This allows the receiving officials to determine what is in the box without opening it, and helps to get it to the proper distribution location quickly.)
- Will you be ready to receive the goods when we plan to send them?
Additionally, even before starting the collection, be thinking about how you will ship the goods. Global Hand can help in this area.
I have collected goods already. Who can I give them to?
We do encourage you to find a recipient organisation first, before starting the goods collection. They can then give you specific guidelines for what types of goods to collect.
If, however, you have already collected goods before finding a recipient organisation, Global Hand can help you try to place them appropriately.
- Offer them on Global Hand
When you make an offer of goods through the Global Hand site, all our verified NGOs are alerted and can contact you, if interested. There are two simple steps to follow for this.
- Sign up as a user of the Global Hand site.
- Log in and proceed to make your offer. Our verified NGOs will be notified of the availability of your goods and, if they can use them, may contact you. All Global Hand verified NGOs adhere to standards of best practice in humanitarian aid distribution and will see that your goods, if appropriate, are used properly to help those in need.
- Search the Global Hand website
Many organisations have posted their needs on the regular listings of Global Hand. To see their needs, click here [See Global Hand listings of NGO’s] and search for a country. Once again, please contact these groups before collecting items for donation. If you intend to send goods directly to an organisation, please make sure you are aware of customs regulations and have transport options available. (See below for help on these points.)
- Offer them to organisations who regularly receive in-kind donations.
Global Hand lists these organisations in its Yellow pages. You can sort these by types of organisations.
I don’t want to ship goods overseas myself. How can I give my goods to Global Hand?
Global Hand does not itself receive donated goods. We provide a matching service for those who have goods and those who need them. We recommend that you identify an NGO in your country which requires the goods you have to offer.
For a list of local agencies in your country which may be interested in receiving goods, please see our Get Inspired section and sort by country.
I need help with international transport. How can I get my goods to the people who need them?
We have several suggestions:
- Global Hand Transport Affiliates are freight and logistics companies that specialise in the movement of humanitarian cargo. If you contact them, they will be able to help you with your freight needs.
- The Global Hand website lists other freight and logistics organisations that may be able to help you transport your goods to places of need.
- Alternatively, contact us at email@example.com and we’ll do our best to help you find a transport solution for your goods.
How can I be sure my goods will get through customs?
Customs hassles can often hold up a shipment of goods at the very end, if things are not done according to the country’s requirements.
There are two UN websites that provide customs information for humanitarian needs:
Everything is ready to go…or is it? Is there anything I have forgotten?
- Made sure your goods are appropriate and needed by the organisation with whom you have been in touch?
- Packaged and labelled your goods in accordance with the requirements of the organisation with whom you are working?
- Ensured you have a reliable transport provider who can guarantee the goods will be delivered to their intended destination?
- Checked relevant Customs regulations if you are sending goods internationally?
- Asked the recipient organisation to provide feedback, once the goods have arrived?
How do I know my goods will be used properly by the recipient organisation?
By donating your goods to a Global Hand verified NGO, you can be assured that you are working with an organisation that is not only legitimate but also committed to standards of best practice in humanitarian aid.
In order to make sure that you send goods which are appropriate and will be useful, please contact the NGO before you begin collecting.
How can I volunteer?
Volunteers can be very important to NGOs – and your help can make a huge difference to them!
Local agencies in your area may need volunteers to help with various tasks – this could include anything from sorting and packing donated goods to doing administrative work. They would be glad to hear from you!
Volunteering in Projects Abroad
- Volunteer Agencies
Global Hand lists volunteer agencies that regularly take volunteers and can place them in appropriate situations.
- UN Volunteers
The United Nations provides information about volunteer opportunities.
General Guidelines for Volunteers
There are some general guidelines for volunteers which you should be aware of in order to assist both you and the charity organisation in most effectively serving the people in need.
- Volunteers are expected to commit to the whole duration of the project they are recruited for.
- Volunteers should carry out their roles assigned to them by the charity organisation.
- If you are considering the option of volunteering in projects abroad, find out as much information about the situation as possible. Knowing what will be expected of you, and understanding the conditions in which you may be working, will help ensure a very worthwhile and valuable experience, both for you and the organisation with whom you volunteer.
- Oversea volunteers should be aware of the country’s culture and try to fit in with the country’s lifestyle. For instance, try to dress and behave in a culturally appropriate manner.
- Volunteers should be respectful of the country’s religious beliefs and traditions.
Why are so many charities only accepting money, not goods?
There are many reasons:
- In many situations, charities need funding for their projects. They may be able to use donated funds more effectively for what they are already doing than making use of donated goods.
- Many relief organisations do not have the staff or capability to sort and pack donated goods.
- Donated goods can sometimes cause problems if not handled responsibly.
Global Hand respects this thinking, and sees the value of using donated funds for aid. Yet, universally, we have found that funding is always short of the depth of need that prevails on our dysfunctional planet. For this reason, where donated product is available, appropriate and advantageous, we see good sense in harnessing it and placing it wisely. We therefore encourage your community group, while abiding by the recommendations in this section, to continue your efforts to partner with NGOs who can make use of your product in a situation where it can bring much needed help.
If you have further questions about your community group’s activities, please feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.