Monday, February 25, 2013

Sponsor a Child: What to Expect

Most people give to charity one way or another. Some give up their time to help good causes, many routinely carry out acts of spontaneous charity for strangers, and most give money. And there’s a significant sector of charitable giving that opts for something very individual, involving and personal: sponsoring a child.

Sponsoring a child in need has been a part of the charity landscape for generations; the first scheme was inspired by the plight of children orphaned during the Spanish civil war of the 1930s. Since then, sponsoring a child has become a significant contributor, accounting for around US $3 billion annually channelled into changing lives.

At one level, sponsoring a child is like many other commitments to a charity: a monthly or annual payment goes from the donor’s account to the charity. There, the similarities end. This is a long-term commitment, usually lasting between ten and fifteen years, when the child is old enough to be independent. It’s worth considering this carefully before signing up.

Child sponsorships schemes vary and many are community-wide, which means the sponsored child and the community all benefit. The donor knows who the sponsored child is, where he lives and the challenges he and his community are facing, which helps to give context and a more complete picture of the child’s environment.

The sponsor and the child are in contact with one another, exchanging letters and photos and, in some cases, e-mails. Some schemes allow donors to send gifts, while other charities actively discourage this.

The sponsorship money is used in a variety of ways. Educating and raising the aspirations of the child is at the top of the list of priorities, as is his health and future opportunities. Some is invested in improving infrastructure, such as sanitation and agriculture, all of which ultimately benefit everyone in the community. Larger charities invest in the future of the community with training programmes, advocacy and economic development.

All donors receive regular updates on the child’s progress from the charity. This takes the form of school and health reports, news of events and developments in his community, and updates on the work of the charity.

A child will only have one sponsor, and it often happens that close bonds are formed between the sponsor and the child over many years, building a relationship and a real sense of connection and attachment. There are also some cases where the child’s expectations can be higher than the sponsor realises, so many charities advise sponsors to be aware of this.

Many happy and successful outcomes emerge from child sponsorships. Sponsoring a child takes commitment, and it’s as well to be prepared for more of an emotional rollercoaster than donating money to good causes in general. As in any relationship, there are rewards and pitfalls, but a good scheme is one that is run by well-trained professionals who will be happy to answer questions.

Charity is rarely out of the news, and it can be hard to see the human story behind the column inches and statistics that only tell a fraction of the story. This is charity with a human face, a name, and a life. Sponsoring a child is an opportunity to be a part of it.


About the Guest Author
Stacey is a freelance writer and is passionate about her family, two dogs, giving back to the community through volunteering for different charities and also about making a difference to young people's lives.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ditch Your Rewards Credit Cards and Save Money

Choosing a rewards credit card can seem like a great idea when you sign up. After all, who doesn't want free stuff?

The problem is, a lot of the time it’s not free – and unless you are a BIG spender, or you are super-smart about using your credit card, you could be spending more on your credit card than you are getting back in rewards.

So, how do you know when you should keep your rewards card and when you should ditch it for something smarter?

Annual Fees
The first thing to look at on your credit card is the amount you are paying in annual fees. As friendly as credit card providers may appear, they are not here to be your friend, they are here to make money. This means they generally won’t give away free stuff.

Look at how much you are paying in annual fees and compare it to how much you are getting back in rewards. In order to make their money back on the rewards they give out, many card companies charge more in annual fees.

You have to make sure you get your money’s worth. This can sometimes be achieved by using your card for all your purchases – more spending means more rewards. Just be sure to pay off the balance in full each month, or you will lose out in interest payments.

Or, choose a rewards credit card that charges no annual fee. Not always easy to find, but they are there.

Similarly, card providers can charge more in interest on rewards cards than regular credit cards. If you carry a balance on your card each month, then you are probably paying out more in interest than you are getting back in rewards.

To avoid this, either pay your bill in full each month, or choose a rewards card with low-low-interest.

As odd as it sounds, some people choose rewards credit cards and don’t know much about the rewards program. They like the idea of having a rewards card, but don’t actually need any of the rewards. If you are set on having a rewards card, make sure it offers rewards you will use. Or, if you don’t need rewards at all, choose a cheaper standard credit card and save yourself some money.

Expired Points
Some card providers have expiry dates on their rewards points. This would mean your reward points get deleted if you don’t redeem them within a certain time period. If you spend small on your credit card, then it probably means you earn points slowly. However, this may mean your points will expire before you ever get a chance to use them.

Ditch or Keep?
  • If you are getting more back than you are paying on annual fees and interest: Keep.
  • If you are paying out more than you get back: Ditch.
  • If you are not getting the rewards you want: Ditch (or Switch to another card with a better rewards program).
  • If you are losing your points before you can use them: Ditch.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Australian Charities and Organisations That Assist the Unemployed

[Editor's Note: The following guest post was provided by Richard from Simple Living Australia, a personal finance and lifestyle blog which helps readers make informed financial decisions.]

There are times in our lives due to the economic downturn where a little assistance can go a long way. When unemployment or an illness has taken away the primary income in the family; outside help may be required. Fortunately, there are many charitable organisations in Australia can help you out. Non-profit organisations and charities may not be what immediately come to mind when you need a hand, but they can really make a difference.

Major charities have annual revenues that can easily exceed $100 million, and a lot of them get support from churches, wealthy individuals, and other major enterprises that want to help the deprived. There are even certain specialist lenders that provide emergency unemployment loans. Let’s take a closer look at some the most significant Australian charities that want to assist the unemployed and have managed to really make a difference over the years.

Fitted for Work
Fitted for Work is an organisation aimed at women who are unemployed, who want to obtain a job, and ultimately manage to attain financial independence.  They sponsor professional dress and mock interviews.  They also have a transition to work program.  Read their success stories, they will inspire you.

Job Support
Jobsupport has been helping people with disabilities to get a job for nearly 20 years now. The organisation is one of the most important in Sydney, and they’re constantly struggling to make society understand that handicapped people have the right to work and add their share of contributions to the state.

Boys Town
BoysTown is an organisation that helps young people, children, and families overcome severe disadvantages such as long-term unemployment, abuse, mental illness, and homelessness. The charity is fully committed to enabling and inspiring people reach their potential and overcome financial difficulties. Some of the main services include crisis care, employment, counseling, parenting, social development, education, life skills, and more.

Dress for Success
Dress for Success is an organisation that appeals to women who haven’t worked in years. The main goal of the charity is to help the ladies re-enter the workforce. They want to make a difference, and therefore they’re trying to help women through various means that they can make it on this economy even if they lack experience.

The charitable sector in Australia is extremely large. Thankfully, they offer a plethora of services and products delivered by non-profit organisations and charities. There are nearly 60,000 non-profit organisations currently active in Australia. Most of them are focused on specific communities and they operate locally. However, some of them are so expansive; they are able to help a huge number of unemployed Australian citizens. Notable organisations such as the Salvation Army, the Australian Red Cross, and the Sydney City Mission have hundreds of volunteers and paid workers. Like the charities listed previously, the unemployed are in good hands when they use the services of these organisations.

Even though times are tough; there are many charitable organisations that are available to help you. Put your pride aside and let them help to plant your feet on solid ground. Who knows, some day you may be able to pay it forward and help someone else or at least point them to one of these amazing organisations.

About the Guest Post:
The opinion expressed is that of the guest author. If you are interested in writing a guest post, please contact PF Stock at the Email address listed in the sidebar.