There are over 60,000 charities in Australia and many more globally, most of which are achieving real good for people less fortunate than you and I. So, how do you pick a charity to support, and what does meaningful support look like to that charity? Is it only about giving money?

The answer is simple. There are enough selfless people in our country to provide support for all of these charities, financially and with other resources like time and skills.

What charities need is people who believe strongly in what they are doing and whom they are helping, and therefore decide to partner with them to fill that need.

If each of us picked only one or two not-for-profit organisations to invest in with our money or time, there would be enough support to go round all those organisations.

So, here’s a simple tip or two for choosing whom you say yes to and how to say no without feeling guilty.

Giving regularly vs giving one off donations

Consider deciding to support a few charities regularly, for example by regular monthly donations of your money and/or time, or even your blood!

Why are regular monthly gifts instead of one off amounts more helpful? Charities have budgets too — their ability to commit to undertaking support projects is determined by how much money they will have for the duration of the project. Giving regularly helps them to calculate their expected annual income to do their work helping others.

Local, national, global

Choosing a charity is important. I recommend the local — national — global principle when makings these choices.

You can’t support everything, unless you’re super rich, but even then you should probably be discerning about what you support. As a family we make the decision together.

First, we look at local needs. This might include, for example, a neighbour who needs a meal after having a baby, a local sports club that you volunteer to coach at, or a local charity helping young people stay in school.

Second, we consider charities that work nationally or within the greater Sydney area, serving Australian people in communities that are less affluent, or high schools, or farmers struggling to make ends meet.

Third, we support a charity doing work serving people in another country. Australia is a wonderful place to live and there are many across the globe who have none of the riches and privilege we and our kids enjoy. This may mean sponsoring a child, donating to a fund that rebuilds poor communities after a disaster or builds a new well for good drinking water in a drought ravaged country.

The key to choosing a charity to support is that you should believe in what they are doing, and care genuinely about the people or cause they are using your resources to help.

Should you say no?

Should you say no to phone raffles and the small $2 buy a ticket or pin requests?

When you are clear about your YES charities you can be honest when you respond to those phone calls from various charities when you say, “I’m sorry, we’ve already decided which charities we’re supporting this year, and our funds have been allocated to them at the moment”.

If you have some pocket change and you want to buy a raffle ticket and a sausage sandwich or $2 pin at the checkout to support health research of some kind, then of course do so, but even larger charities depend on the regular monthly donation more than the $2 one-off, so if you really care about that cause find out how you can support their work beyond the one-off token gift.

Donating time and skills can be just as valuable as money

Charities need volunteers in just about every type of job imaginable — from flipping sausages at Bunnings to bookkeeping and admin, IT and website design, to board members and business consulting to help them be more effective and organised.

Most charities are staffed by caring people who have particular skills or experience, such as counselling or community work, to meet the needs of the people they are serving — few have business management experience.

Even donating your time and expertise to a charity for small periods of time is very helpful.

Be purposeful in your giving, and make a real difference.


Rouse Hill Billy Cart Derby
Now in its fourth year, the Rouse Hill Billy Cart Derby encourages families to get out of the house, connect with each other and their neighbours over some friendly competition by racing billy carts down the main street of Rouse Hill Town Centre.

You can either borrow a cart at the event (made by Riverstone Men’s Shed), or make your own and bring it to race.

Held on Sunday April 19th 2015 from 10am - 3pm. Entry is $5 a race, and if you’re not racing there are lots of stalls with free games, face painting, and jumping castles etc. Get more information on the event website

Proceeds raised from the event go towards the 2016 Billy Cart Derby and other community connecting events ensuring that the event is available to local families every year.

Give and Take
This is the first of its kind — an online “charity-like” non-profit organisation. There is a Hills branch and also a new Mt Druitt branch, which assists in providing emergency food relief and essentials. Needs are posted via their Facebook page and anyone can donate to meet those needs. If you’re moving or doing a clear out consider donating your good but unneeded items to this charity group. We recently moved and donated a heap of furniture, linen and kitchen goods to the Mt Druitt team and they were distributing them to people in need within 24 hours.

Do you have a charity/service group you’d like to tell us about? Email the Sydney Hills Living team at

Kerrie Sheaves is a co-founder of the Hills-based not-for-profit organisation Men In Action — and their Bring A Mate — Preventative Mental Health for Men project. She is a small business owner and director of Tzara Enterprises, serves on the board of Young Life Australia and as co-chairperson of the Hills Mental Health Interagency. She has lived and worked in the Hills area for 20 years, has been married for 18 years to Tim Sheaves and is a mother of two. Kerrie speaks to small groups of women about connecting positively with the men in their lives.

Kerrie Sheaves