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How Do You Build Resilience Through Your Giving? Lessons from 2014

Another year is fast drawing to a close! Now is a crucial opportunity to invest your giving in an effective, impactful way, so the change-makers you support can start the New Year strong.

But with all of the worthy options out there, how do you decide where to give? And how can you make sure that your gift makes the most impact for those in need? These are important questions to ask. But the answers aren’t always clear.

We’ve addressed this before, when we talked about the Three Steps to Build Resilience through Your Giving. When you’re choosing an organization for your donation, this is our advice:

  • Step #1: Make sure that those at the heart of the issue were consulted from beginning to end and that the organization provides services in a way that strengthens communities.

  • Step #2: Make sure that the organization relies on the voices of women and other marginalized members of the community.

  • Step #3: Make sure that the organization meets immediate needs and helps create long-term positive change.

What do you think of these steps? How do you decide where your giving will make the most impact? Share your thoughts below!

In 2014, we saw over and over again the wisdom of prioritizing grassroots women’s leadership. Bad news may grab headlines, but behind the scenes and in local communities, grassroots women activists are hard at work creating powerful, lasting solutions.

Yanar Mohammed, leader of OWFI, counsels a woman at a MADRE-supported shelter in Iraq
Yanar Mohammed, leader of OWFI, counsels a woman at a MADRE-supported shelter in Iraq. © Daniel Smith

When extremist ISIS militants swept into Iraq, our support to a local women’s organization meant that they could provide emergency escape, shelter and humanitarian aid to hundreds of women. They were there right away, even in places that large aid agencies could not go.

Frequent and persistent drought has tested the resilience of Indigenous women in Kenya—but by supporting the leadership of grassroots women, we can help make sure that they can face down this danger. They are innovating climate adaptation strategies like water harvesting to capture scarce rain and tree nurseries to provide natural cover for water supplies.

Indigenous women in Kenya water harvesting

And just this month, a typhoon struck in the Philippines. You may remember last year, when Typhoon Haiyan decimated entire communities. The news was filled with pictures of the devastation and updates on the rising death toll. And since last year, local women’s groups have been hard at work to rebuild more resilient communities. They made sure they would be prepared for when the next storm hits. And they put pressure on policymakers to respond quickly and effectively to disaster. When the most recent typhoon made landfall, communities were in a much stronger position to respond—and people survived.

Climate change is guaranteed to bring more fierce storms. And war will continue to devastate communities around the globe. But these examples teach us something urgent — we must support grassroots women’s organizations with solutions proven to work.

They are experts in the local and unique needs of their communities.

They are critical first-responders to identify and meet the needs of the most marginalized in their communities.

And they will stand by their communities for the long haul, chipping away at barriers like poverty, violence and discrimination that stand in the way of community resilience.

The answer to the question in the title is simple: when you stand with grassroots women leaders through your giving, you help build the resilience that allows them to save lives and create stronger communities. The events of this year repeatedly revealed that reality. And 2015 will give us even more opportunities to stand together with women to meet urgent needs and create lasting change.

To learn more about how MADRE and our grassroots partners build resilience, click here

December 30, 2014