Why don’t people give to Syria?

If your donation was going to be matched by 50% wouldn’t you be inclined to give?

I work for GlobalGiving and we run a lot of match-funding campaigns. Simply put that means we match every donation (for a certain period) by 50%. Think of it simply as a ‘Buy one get one half price’ campaign for the charity sector.

Just like sales promotions, these match-funding campaigns lead to not only an increase in donation volume, but also an increase in donor numbers. Our ‘matching pots’ contain between £10,000 and £25,000, and more often than not, they run out before the campaign officially ends, due the fact that everyone loves getting something for nothing right? 

But then why, on our Syrian match-funding campaign did we not run out of funds? In fact we have over £6,000 left. Why did this ‘buy one get one half price’ offer not appeal to donors, yet when we run the same campaigns relating to girls, or the environment or natural disaster recovery efforts etc, we sometimes run out of our £20,000 within a few hours?

My reasons are this; compared to natural disasters, violence against women and environmental destruction, the whole Syrian crisis is chaotic. The situation on the ground is chaotic, the situation of refugees fleeing is chaotic, the situation portrayed in the media is chaotic, so of course the ideas the general public formulates are bound to be … chaotic.

“Who are the ‘good guys’ again? Why are the so called good guys bombing schools? Are they no longer the good guys? Where does our government stand on this again? There are relief efforts working on all sides but which am I meant to support? Is my money actually going to go into the right hands? Am I fuelling this war?”

The scale is also immense. For most of us in this world, we have never before seen such huge devastation, so from another donor angle, we think – what can our £5 really achieve? Even worse – what would our bunches of £500 really achieve? Scepticism is rife!

At GlobalGiving, we vet all our small charity partners intensely, working with only those who can prove their financials and are legally sound – yes this means we don’t work with too many in Syria but we work with good number nonetheless. Regardless of this, people are still too scared to give and our charity partners can still struggle to do their great work.

Even though less people picked up our offer, some of our charities still benefited, just not as much as we would have liked them too. 

An example of one of the successes in this campaign, was ‘3 Generations’. This non-profit documents human rights abuses through film. The Syrian match-funding pot allowed them to finish their crowdfunding campaign in style. Their staff were more motivated to give yet another push to donors about the importance of donating during the last few days of the campaign. And the extra money they raised through match-funding enabled them to finish editing their feature film ‘Lost in Lebanon’. This film is now in the final editing stage and will be released worldwide at film festivals next year! (Donors to the project get regular updates of the progress and will be the first to know where it is premiering).

Another charity that benefited from the campaign was Mercy Corps. This non-profit not only provides pre-loaded cash cards to the most desperate Syrian refugees who have arrived in Europe, but they also focus on addressing the long term needs of the newly arrived youths, whether that be in terms of well-being, education or employment. Mercy Corps understands that this is not a short term crisis, it will be a long term change, which if adequately addressed can benefit all involved. However, even though they still benefited from the match-funding campaign, Mercy Corps wished they had been able to secure more funding in order to further compliment their ‘hand-to-mouth’ work with their exceptional longer-term focus on enhancing the skills of these young people so that in the future, whether that be next year or in 5 years’ time, our communities, refugee and local, will have a better chance of living harmoniously together. 

So is it just the chaos of the situation that holds people back from enjoying our ‘buy one get one half-price’ offer? Or are our charities working too hard on the ground to spend time spreading the awareness of their excellent work? Or is it just a case of mistrust from the public? Hopefully if we at GlobalGiving can show that these charities are legitimate and we can communicate with the public the excellent work they are doing, we will start to regain public trust and more donors can give to them in order for them to continue doing the work they are doing supporting refugees fleeing the worst disaster of this millennium.

So, my final question? If we were to match your donation 50% would you give to Syria now?

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