Five Simple Ways to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals Through Your Philanthropic Efforts – #SDGSandME

Petra Barbu

Petra is a content marketer passionate about social enterprise, impact investing, and microfinance.

In this 4th article of the #SDGSandME series, we’re going to explore the effectiveness of philanthropy, and how you can use your giving efforts to help the world reach the Sustainable Development Goals—no matter how small (or big) your wallet is.

[Looking for more customized support related to growing your impact? Apply to the MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship program.]

In previous articles, we highlighted easy things you can do in the Professional, Personal, and Political aspects of your life to help reach the SDGs, and we’re building on that to share 5 ways you can position your philanthropic activities to make the world a more just and equal place by 2030.

A quick and easy way to get involved is simply to donate to a cause you're passionate about!A quick and easy way to get involved is simply to donate to a cause you’re passionate about!

1. Donate. Donate. Donate.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to support the SDGs is to simply donate to organizations that are dedicating their missions to fulfilling specific Sustainable Development Goals. Here are some organizations we think are great stewards of donor dollars with specific initiatives to achieve the SDGs:

  1. Consider donating to one of the new SDG Funds through Global Impact’s SDG Fund. Global Impact filters thoroughly for highly respected organizations that are working directly to help achieve the SDGs, so you know your money will be used in the best possible way.
  2. If you’d like to hand-pick the charities you donate to, check out GlobalGiving to find some of the best nonprofits to donate to per each of the 17 SDGs.
  3. To find statistics about funding for the SDGs, like what areas need more work in your location, check out SDG Funders forum. You can personalize your donations by what your area is most in need of to impact the most change in your community.

And I always suggest setting up a monthly, recurring donation so that you help organizations see that they have your support in the longterm, which enables them to plan more efficiently.

Volunteer your time for a greater level of involvement and agency.
Volunteer your time for a greater level of involvement and agency.

2. Volunteer Your Time

If you’re looking for a more immersive and hands-on way to contribute to the efforts to further the SDGs, volunteering in any capacity is an excellent option. Even local projects can make a real impact. The UN has a great list of community organizations that are making tangible steps towards fulfilling the SDGs. Look here for local initiatives you can support. We also think our friends at Volunteer Match have many options for you to get involved.

When you volunteer your skills you help your community as well as yourself.

3. Volunteer Your Real Skills In Your Free Time

Though it is important to volunteer in any capacity, it is more effective, impactful, and fulfilling to volunteer the unique skills you have. The UN has said that volunteers are key to reaching the SDGs. Volunteering is also a great way to grow your skills and network, and it also makes you happier and healthier. A few great places to look for projects include:

  1. Sparked, which offers microvolunteering projects that anyone can complete from anywhere, anytime.
  2. Catchafire and LinkedIn For Good offer skills-based projects in your location
  3. United Nations Volunteers is also a great source for projects.
Take the leap and dedicate your skills to an immersive experience giving back.
Apply to the MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship to take the leap and dedicate your skills through an immersive experience giving back – while accelerating your own social good career in the process.

4. Go Experteering on Vacation, Company-Sponsored Time, or During Your Sabbatical

An incredible way to make philanthropy a part of your life is to take the leap and go Experteering: It is an immersive and highly fulfilling option. Volunteer your skills, expand your knowledge, travel on a budget, and make concrete steps towards reaching the SDGs with an exciting international project. You can easily find projects related to womens empowerment, food and nutrition, or economic empowerment. There are dozens of projects for each goal, and you can choose the region you feel most passionate about working with as well. It is doubtless the most hands-on way to help achieve the SDGs and is an incredibly effective and fulfilling option. Erin Dowd, an Experteer alum who moved on to a full-time position as Director of Curriculum with Level Up Village explains,

“The SDGs have become a central part of the work I do. I am an educator, so the thing that comes most naturally is teaching others about them and empowering teachers to use the goals as a framework in their classrooms. Two of the things I have done recently at LUV are to include the SDGs as part of our teacher training and align all of our courses with the goals. The SDGs have become an important part of our company and part of my personal goals that I continue to work toward each day. I also became a member of the Global Goals Educator Task Force on Teaching the SDGs and from there I have had the honor of working with some of the most incredible people to bring the SDGs to all classrooms around the world.”

Innovative technologies and ideas are the key to reaching the SDGs.
Innovative technologies and ideas are the key to reaching the SDGs.

5. Contribute to Long-term Innovation

While tips #1 – #4 above can help solve immediate issues, there are also some underlying and systemic issues that need to be addressed. It’s clear that we won’t achieve the SDG through business as usual and waiting for either the economy or the government to change the world. Be a part of the solution, not the problem, by joining a network like the Global Innovation Exchange.  The only way we will approach the SDGs in earnest is if we all join together and dedicate ourselves to creating the change we want to see.  As Erin explains,

“Anyone can get involved, and it doesn’t have to be at a global level. It starts with each individual and community. One of the things I do is tell everyone I meet about the SDGs and why they are so important. I look for ways to talk about them with my co-workers. Every industry should be looking for ways to connect to these goals because the only way we will be able to achieve them by 2030 is if every single person on the planet gets involved.”

Remember, even small contributions help! By donating, volunteering, using your skills, and immersing yourself in projects, you can help contribute to the SDGs to make them a reality by 2030. To make an impact with your skills and accelerate your social good career in the process, apply to our MovingWorlds Institute Global Fellowship. For more updates on the #SDGSandME, be sure to subscribe to email updates, and we hope you’ll share your own ideas, and impact stories,  too.