Just to start with, I want to say I’m not making this post for praise or for everyone to think I'm bigging myself up by talking about the charities I donate to. I wanted to make this post to highlight the fact that if you are thinking about donating to charities but don’t know where to start or are wondering how much you have to give to actually “make a difference”, I’m here to say that you don’t have to give a lot to make a real difference to the charities you love.
As a bit of background, at the end of 2018, I decided my New Year’s Resolution was going to be to give money to a few charities I really care about, I’ve always hated New Year’s Resolutions as they’re usually something you know full well you won't stick to, but I made a real effort to research charities that made a difference to wildlife populations, the global environment, or helping animals here in the UK. In a selfish way, I also wanted to choose charities that would send me those little quarterly updates so you could see where the money was going and get that feeling that you really are making a difference just by donating. These donations have become a real source of joy for me and I genuinely look forward to choosing my new charities for the year once January rolls around!
I started donating money to The WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) at the start of this year. I’m sure we’ve all seen the WWF adverts where they talk about donating “just £2 a month” to a certain animal or breed and how this can majorly affect their conservation and survival. I roped my boyfriend into helping me choose as you don’t just give money to the WWF, you have to choose a certain type of animal from their list of critically endangered species and then your money goes directly to helping that species. We spent ages looking into the choices but we finally decided on the jaguar (I’m going to stay donating to The WWF for as long as I can and just change my animal choice every year.), there was no real reason we chose jaguars but I have been absolutely loving hearing about them in their natural habitat in Brazil, and hearing from The WWF about all their work with local communities to try and protect this critically endangered species from a whole host of threats like habitat loss and poaching.
As I mentioned, I am doing this slightly selfishly to receive their adoption pack 4 times a year that gives you loads of insight into how the conservation is going as well as beautiful pictures of these jaguars thriving in the rainforest!
Here is my adoption pack that I got when I first started donating:
With every new donation you get an adorable toy of whatever animal you chose to adopt (obviously I'm gonna try and collect all of them), we named our adorable little jaguar Bagheera after the character from the Jungle Book! She came in this completely recyclable cardboard box with a whole load of stuff! We got some fun stickers as well as a booklet showing you the work they’re already doing and what they plan to do with your donation and others!
From donating to The WWF I realised how much I love this charity and want to support them in any way I can, so I also bought a couple things from their gift shop, I got a super cute WWF logo face mask as well as some very well-made socks with a lovely embroidered WWF logo on the ankle.
I’m learning so much about the charity and jaguars as a whole, as well as having a huge amount of admiration and respect for the lengths this charity goes to, to protect endangered species around the globe.
I’ve got all this (except the face mask and socks) for only donating £5 a month, if you are thinking of donating a little spare cash to something worthwhile, maybe do a little research on The WWF and see if you can help, I guarantee you’ll love every part of your journey with them.
The Guide Dogs For The Blind Association
This one is much closer to home, I chose this UK based charity as although I'm fortunate enough to not have anyone in my family who suffers from sight loss or blindness, I loved the idea of supporting these adorable guide dog puppies- in training on their journey to helping thousands of people with sight loss to gain back their independence. I started this donation at the end of 2019 and got to choose a guide dog puppy; I chose an adorable yellow Labrador called Molly (the name of my best ever dog who passed away in 2017), I got updates on a monthly basis from them, telling me all about how Molly’s training is going and what goals she has achieved, you also receive lovely photos of the guide dogs as their training progresses and they grow up, so you really get to see every detail of her training and general life! At the start of 2021, I got an email saying it was time to choose a new guide dog, and this time I’m donating to the most beautiful German Shepard puppy called Lily, I’ve never seen a German Shepherd as a guide dog but I presume the loyal, highly intelligent and attentive qualities the breed has made her perfect for the role. This time I got a really cute fridge magnet with her face on it and this picture of her as a tiny puppy!!!
As a person who wants to do what they can to help others in need…and has an obsession with dogs, donating to The Guide Dogs has been such a lovely journey, I’ll definitely keep it up this year and the next as their training program lasts 24 months from bringing them in on their first day to finally going home with their new companion. It’s a lot of fun to get consistent updates throughout the year and see them grow both physically and within their role as a guide dog, if you do have £5 to spare and are partial to a monthly update on an adorable dog then maybe have a look into The Guide Dogs if you can.
The Natural History Museum, London
So finally, this one is not actually a registered charity but just an incredible building that’s held a special place in my heart for as long as I can remember. The Natural History Museum in London is easily the best thing about London as a whole (yeah, I said it), every time I go into London I either make a trip inside the museum or at least walk past just to take it in for the millionth time. If you didn't know, this incredible place has been open for over 140 years and has free admission for everyone, so although the drinks, food, and gift shop might be a bit expensive, it evens out when you get to experience all the great exhibits inside for free.
There were so many charities on my list for this year's donations but I finally decided on the NHM as I do spend so much time there, I felt it was my turn to give something back to them in the form of a small donation. I know it isn’t much and you don’t even need to do it all, they’re just happy for you to enter and spend time there with loved ones (and hopefully learn something), but I want to see the museum stay running for at least the next 150 years so hopefully, this goes some way to helping.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to donate, you can also become a member (which I'm thinking of doing at the end of this year), you have to pay annually and it's around £62 for the year which still adds up to just over £5 a month, you get free entry into all their new exhibits, discounts at the cafe and gift shops, access to private rooms within the museum, a monthly newsletter from the museum as well as being able to go to special talks and exhibitions hosted by the scientists that work there, so it's £62 a year for one person or £86 a year for two people living at the same address (this works out at just over £6 a month) to have access to all of these incredible things, I am seriously considering getting that two-person membership as I'm writing this so that we can really make the most of everything the museum has to offer once it’s safe enough to go there again!
This year I've stuck with the same charities but chose different areas to support. I decided to only go for two charities instead of three giving £5 each as I didn't want to spend too much money each month and I think the two I've chosen to stay with give me more than enough information and updates without having to add an extra charity on top.
With WWF I've swapped over to supporting turtles in and around the coral reefs of Fiji, I've always seen how endangered turtle species are, and the WWF is looking to increase turtle numbers across all seven species but they've been giving extra support to Hawksbill and Green turtles.
Three times a year I get an update from the WWF to say how their efforts are doing and if turtle numbers and habitat areas are increasing, above is a picture of the box of goodies you get from them, the first box includes a cute little toy of the animal you adopted (we named her Shelley), some "field notes" which include some facts and figures about turtles and the marine habitat around Fiji that the WWF is trying to protect, as well as some beautiful pictures of wild turtles. My second update (which is sent in a paper envelope, you don't get a box each time, so it's less wasteful) was really interesting and my favourite so far, this one actually gave you updates on their work, and although it wasn't all good news the WWF was able to move large amounts of turtle hatchlings off tourist beaches and onto private, protected beaches that are much quieter and safer for mothers to lay their eggs and the babies to hatch. There is also a page covering more of the animal species they protect and giving you a general overview of what the WWF is doing globally to protect endangered species.
I know not everybody wants all this through their letterbox but I love receiving these parcels every few months, I really do feel like I'm part of something bigger and I can see the benefits first-hand of a large number of people just giving a little bit of money every month.
Yet again I've stayed supporting The Guide Dogs For The Blind Association and for now, I'm staying sponsoring the beautiful German Shephard pup Lily as she now moves onto the big dog training school and learns all the important skills she needs to support a blind or partially sighted person in their everyday life.
Just go a few paragraphs up to last year and look at the first picture I got of her, and now look at this one!! She's so big and both my fiancee and I are always gushing over her ears!!
Not only do you get these cute pictures and written "pupdates", but they also email you a short video showing the dog progressing, and especially in the ones we get sent, you can see Lily going out and about with her volunteer puppy handler; Carole! My most recent pupdate detailed that Lily is very confident on public transport and isn't fazed in loud coffee shops, shopping centres, busy train stations or bus depots and although she hasn't gone on a full train ride, her puppy handler said she has been practicing getting on and off trains and isn't bothered at all. The only thing they said she needs to work on is that she has a little sensitivity in her back so finds the guide dog awareness coat a little uncomfortable but I'm sure in time she'll get used to it and it won't bother her.
I can't wait for Lily to pass her training over the course of the next year and get to hear about who she ends up helping.
I usually receive these pupdates in the post every 2-3 months and at the start of the year, you get a cute guide dog calendar showing all the new puppies for this year, and all their birthdays...Lily's is the 28th of September just so we don't forget, haha!
I love hearing about Lily and her progression but I have to admit that I can't wait until I can choose another puppy and begin the process all over again!
Please don’t think I’m trying to make anyone feel bad for not donating if you don’t have money, or making you feel like you should be donating if you do have the spare cash lying around, that is not my intention at all. I wanted to share these charities and my donations just in case there are any of you out there thinking about doing something like this but aren’t sure of where to start. It’s so easy to donate to any cause you feel strongly about and especially at the moment charities and businesses of all sizes need all the help they can get, even just a £5 donation to one charity/organisation could go a long way towards reaching a goal they may be striving for.
Again, please don’t feel pressured there's enough stress going on as it is but if you are able/ do want to give some spare cash to a cause you love, you’ll be doing an incredible thing.