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Why really convinces people to support international aid?

Do people support aid to poor countries because they think is in their own personal and national self-interest? Or because they think it is the right thing to do?

Differently put: what stops people from supporting the less fortunate? Fear that their money will be wasted, or do they just not care?

What was the last time you donated to an international cause? What made you do it?

  • Feb 13 2011: In my case I donate because I think it is the right thing to do. At the same time I am finding from TED talks that by donating and helping people in other countries, my help can translate into a better future on a global scale that will affect me i.e. my donation can help with pollution, wars, global economy etc. Therefore I am also acting with self-interest which I think is ok to do.

    From my point of view it is difficult to see how my donation is actually used. Is my donation spent for the cause? Is it spent wisely? We can never be sure for 100% but given a certain credibility of the recepient we need to take some risks.

    I am donating monthly (sponsoring a child) and then also to extra causes occasionally. I hope everyone with financial stability will donate regularly.

    I think social media can enourmosly help increase donations to NGOs. I see online trend to create some kind of emotional connection between the donor and the recepient in order for the donor to feel good and in order to create a more permanent relationship. For example, one organization in Pakistan lets sponsored students to tweet about their school experiences so that their donors can see how much these kids benefit from their donations.

    In another case, this article ( describes the use of online media to show how each donation can help a concrete girl to go to school instead of being sold into slavery (

    Finally, some people are starting to use group events like birth day parties and weddings to donate on behalf of others. For example, for my daughter's birthday, we told the invited kids that instead of buying them goodie bags, we spend the money on a donation. We let the kids to choose what kind of donation they wanted to make (art supplies won).
  • Feb 12 2011: Thanks Mark - it sounds like you fall into the "would give if it really worked" camp...