Jaan Aps, portfolio manager at the social investment organization Heateo SA, criticizes Estonians for not paying attention to the effectiveness of their charitable giving.
In a European Commission blog post, Aps noted that social campaigns such as "Let's Do It" create a good foundation for positive trends and attitudes towards volunteering and charitable giving, however, in everyday life, charity often lacks direction, efficiency and clearly thought out reasons.
Aps notes that often, small positive changes can be completely undone by large negative trends. For example, donating to foster care homes is a popular form of charity in Estonia, with tens of thousands of euros going towards improving foster cares around the country every Christmas. Schoolchildren hold bake sales and TV stations organize charitable concerts every year to that end. However, Aps noted, this practice is the equivalent on helping stranded sea stars back into an ocean plagued by an oil leak – instead of devoting resources to preventing problems that create the need for foster cares in the first place, or helping kids out of foster cares and into accepting families, people simply make acute problems slightly more bearable.
"People should familiarize themselves with the field, before engaging in volunteer work," wrote Aps. "Are my actions actually valuable? Could I benefit society more, by doing something else instead? Activities that are thought through bring more satisfaction to the volunteers as well."