Q: I have some things I'd like to donate to the community. How does that work?

A: You're already giving a lot by participating, as your funds go toward direct contributions to the community. The communities are so grateful for that, and so you should feel under no obligation whatsoever to contribute more. But some ask how they can give more.

Globe Aware administers many donations to our needy communities, as we are regulated by the US Treasury Department. We have a direct, sponsored wire transfer account established because of our 501 c 3 nonprofit status. It still costs us a monthly fee to send money, but it is a flat fee, so additional donations do not cost the communities extra money. The sad reality is that it costs the sender money to send, and it often costs even more for the recipient to receive. This is a fact usually found out *after* you try and send money. So from the perspective of mitigating transaction costs, it is free to send via Globe Aware. It also allows your donation to be tax deductible.

CASH: If you are going on a program, you can also just give cash to those locals administering projects upon arrival (though it won't be tax deductible unless you go via Globe Aware). The other thing you can do is wait till you get there and see all the needy places, and give money directly to them or purchase what will help them become more self sufficient. Again, not tax deductible, but easy, and you can choose where it goes. We do not want to encourage begging, so we think the purchase of sewing equipment, for example, is better than giving cash to a hungry seamstress. Or employ him or her to make you a sweater.

Most international communities have difficulty receiving money (as you may say in your research, wiring money is extremely expensive – up to 20% cost of what you're wiring). In addition, any donations directly to the communities are generally not considered tax deductible. You have to give them to a US based nonprofit that partners with them in order for such funds to be tax deductible. You can mail a check, but it takes one month and a variable $100 fee for an international check to be cashed by the communities, so the communities generally do not prefer such donations. Again, its easiest and cheapest, and tax deductible, if you go via Globe Aware.

GOODS: Upon registration, you receive an orientation which lists some of the items the community needs. For example, kids often need shoes or learning supplies. Its good to check here so you can see if they are items that are truly needed.

GETTING DONATIONS TO THE COMMUNITIES: This is tricky. You'd think there would be lots of services willing to give free shipping for donations to needy communities. Surely the airlines? Shipping companies? Postal carriers? Nope, that would be an administrative nightmare for them. There are a few such possibilities, but generally they work like applying for a grant or scholarship. You fill out enormous paperwork, then wait months fro approval, then find a customs officer and rep willing to receive items for you, then fill out return reports, etc.

Shipping overland or sea is *expensive.* Almost always, the cost of shipping donated items exceeds the value of the underlying goods being shipped. If you spend, for example, $300 to ship a used computer worth $350, you'd be much, much better off just using the $300 to buy the computer in the destination country.

What we have found to be the least expensive way to get donated goods to the needy communities is for volunteers to carry them in their checked bags. The airlines generally allow each passenger to have 2 bags checked, and one carryon. We suggest volunteers use one of the bags for donated items. Of course you still have to follow airline regulations in what can be carried. It should go without saying that weapons and drugs (even medications such as aspirin) are no-no's. If you are not going on a program, we can ask volunteers in your area if they'd be willing to carry donations for you, but then they have to pack the bag themselves so they can answer customs questions appropriately.

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