Small Donations Go Far. Here’s Why

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How far can a 5-lev donation go?

Further than you think.

A donation is worth more than its monetary value; it tells those working on the ground that you support their work. Even a 1- or 2-lev contribution signals, “You are not alone,” and this is a message you can’t put a price tag on. Plus, “a jug fills drop by drop,” Buddha is credited as saying. It may be overused, but there are many instances of small individual contributions forming a critical mass and making all the difference. One of the more famous stories is of the raising of the Statue of Liberty, which was funded with donations of $1 or less from countless individuals.

Giving empowers the recipient, but also the giver: unlike taxation, giving is something you have complete control over. You can select whom to give to, how much, when, as well as whether to give again based on results achieved.

By giving, you are paying toward real improvements in the lives of real people: a little girl with a single parent will get all her required school textbooks; an older man living alone will receive nutritious food; a woman from an underprivileged community will learn how to start her own business; a young man with a disability will train as a baker.

It isn’t just the disadvantaged that benefit from giving. Donating is participating directly in the life of your community and influencing outcomes that affect you, too. Donation recipients may lobby for cleaner air in your city, better school education, or more transparency in local governments. If you think you deserve to have these, then you should consider supporting the organizations working to ensure you do. This will get you closer than you ever will be to having a direct impact on decision-making in your country.

Finally, a word about the organizations making sure your contribution does as much as it possibly can. They are known as nonprofits, NGOs, or civil society organizations. They are usually small—just like the average individual donation is—and because of their size, they are focused and flexible and therefore uniquely placed to act quickly and test innovative solutions that large state bureaucracies take much longer to implement. The people who work in NGOs are not mere employees, but individuals truly invested in the championed causes. They deserve your support.

In 2018, some of the most active civil society organizations in Bulgaria banded together to form BulgariaGives, a platform listing nonprofits and initiatives that are worth supporting. By vetting participating nonprofits and espousing transparency and accountability as requirements for inclusion in the platform, BulgariaGives aims to overcome a common barrier to giving in Bulgaria: a lack of trust.

BulgariaGives also hopes to encourage philanthropy in a country with low individual participation in charitable giving. According to an estimate by the Bulgarian Donors Forum, only 8.7% of charitable gifts in 2017 were made by individuals, with the majority of philanthropic activity in the country carried out by corporations and foundations. In societies where giving is the norm like the United States and pre-1944 Bulgaria, the bulk of donations comes from individuals, not foundations or businesses. Giving USA, an organization tracking philanthropy trends in the United States, points out that two-thirds of donations in that country come from individuals. In pre-1944 Bulgaria, even Bulgarians who couldn’t afford to give money pitched in during national emergencies or for the building of important public buildings such as the Oryahovo Community Center, either by sending food and other provisions or by volunteering their labor.

So, why give? BulgariaGives offers an answer: “Every time you give you get closer to the life you want and deserve.”