Charity may begin at home, but should it stop there?

Five good reasons to support international charity.

1. PHILANTHROPIC ISOLATION: Even our most basic details – the food we eat and clothes we wear – are enmeshed in the flow of international capital, goods, services and labor. Does it make sense in this context that philanthropy should maintain an exclusively local orientation? Of course not. Yet, international funding barely makes it onto philanthropy’s radar screen in the United States.Only about 10% of the U.S. foundation grants, and less than 2% of all U.S. philanthropy—2 cents on the dollar--go overseas. Very little gets down to the grass roots, the people in need.

2. HIGH IMPACT: International giving is intelligent giving. Why? Because it is efficient giving. Small donations can yield big results. Although the overall international need far exceeds the capacity of private philanthropy, the needs of specific communities at the grassroots are simple, concrete and they can be addressed.

3. REWARDS: Few activities provide the same satisfaction, achievement and sense of contribution as international philanthropy. By supporting a foreign project overseas you help people take control of their lives, you challenge global inequity and break down the national and cultural barriers that feed poverty, tension and conflict. As a donor, you also get the rare and wonderful feeling of seeing concrete and dramatic results from your gift.

4. OFFICIAL FAILURES: Governments from post-industrialized countries are the primary donors for international development and relief. Since the end of the Cold War, individual governments have significantly decreased their contributions. Between 1992 and 1997, official assistance from leading industrialized countries dropped 30 percent, while their GNPs jumped almost 30.

5. GLOBALIZATION: Income disparity and inequity among peoples and nations exists today as never before. Despite globalization, today 3 billion people subsist on 2 dollars (U.S.) a day. In an age of intensifying interconnection, to be consistent with our philanthropic ideals we cannot just think globally. --We must act globally by giving globally! (Courtesy of International Donor's Dialogue)

More than half the world's children suffer the effects of poverty, war and HIV/AIDS, denying them a healthy and safe childhood, according to UNICEF. Their annual report, The State of the World's Children, added that the world has the capacity to reduce poverty, conflict and HIV/AIDS and improve the plight of the world's children. This could be achieved at an annual cost of $40-$70 Billion. In comparison, world spending on military runs at about one Trillion dollars. Read more.

The United States ranks last among the world's 28 top foreign aid donor countries, and its foreign assistance levels have dropped dramatically over the past 10 years, according to the United Nations Human Development Report (2002). When you look at countries' foreign aid relative to the size of their economies, the United States is devoting 0.1 per cent of its gross national product (GNP) to help the world's poorest countries, less than any other industrialized nation.