5 Ways To Be Really Effective At Helping Out A Charity

Reckon helping out with a charity's all about painting walls or doing something that suits you? We've got the tips and ideas to help you maximise your good intentions.

Helping hands

A 2012 figure puts the number of charities in Ireland at 24,000, which is a lot: both in terms of what they do for others and in terms of what you can do to support their work. To explain how you can actually make a genuine impact and help out a charity of your choice, we spoke to DEBRA Ireland‘s Cheryl Gunning, who’s responsible for Digital and Communications and is also one of this year’s winners of the Vodafone World of Difference Programme.

Her digital role is bringing awareness and new fundraising opportunities to an organisation that really needs it. DEBRA is an Irish charity set up by parents of children living with a rare and extremely painful skin disease called epidermolysis bullosa (EB). “Children born with EB have little or no collagen, which means their skin is very delicate and the slightest touch can cause huge, painful blisters which can take weeks to heal,” Cheryl explains.

With 300 sufferers in Ireland, no cure and the only treatment constant – and painful – bandage changes, DEBRA’s guaranteed no state funding for its programmes. While DEBRA’s remit is unique, their need for funds is common to all charities. Here’s how you can be the best charity volunteer or fundraiser – ever.

Try these tips to help a charity in the way that’ll benefit them the most.

1. Use your social media accounts

Share appeals and links on social media. “We had an incredible Wicklow Marathon in early March. I was set a challenge to fill half of the marathon spaces through social media alone and thankfully it was a great success – we doubled our entries,” Cheryl says, explaining the effectiveness.

The more you share, the more potential for the charity. “Next up it’s the VHI Women’s Mini Marathon, Kerry Challenge (19th – 21st June) and our EB Awareness Day on 23rd October. You can release your butterfly for children with EB by wearing an EB temporary butterfly tattoo, or share it on social media,” she suggests.

Every fundraiser is vital. Quite simply, services would have to be cut if we don’t make everything we do a success.

2. Give money (doh)

If you can, donate. “Fundraising means everything to us,” Cheryl states – and this is true for all charities. “Every fundraiser is vital. Quite simply, services would have to be cut from patient care if we don’t make everything we do a success.” You can give money in many ways: “sign up for a monthly direct debit or you can also help by texting BUTTERFLY to 50300 to donate €4,” she suggests.

3. Get your workplace (or college course) involved

Organisations love it when groups of colleagues come together to help. Corporate partnerships can be great and doing things in your own office – like a bake sale or raffle, and then donating a cheque with the proceeds – is incredibly welcome. “Encourage your workplace to sponsor one of our events or select us as their Charity of the Year. This would be fantastic,” Cheryl says.

4. Give your time

Cheryl breaks it down: “At the end of the day, we’re a business like any other – so we benefit hugely from companies and individuals donating their expertise – in IT, marketing, sales, HR, etc. That’s far more beneficial than asking people to lick stamps or paint walls. People don’t realise just how many ways they can help using the skills they use in their day-to-day jobs. We’re a small office so we always need more manpower,” she reveals.

5. Anything else?

Yes – you can always remember to participate in the events and activities the charities you support are holding. Want to know more about DEBRA Ireland? Check out the website at www.debraireland.org or drop Cheryl an email to cheryl@debraireland.org if you want to get involved.