Imagine, when you hear of great suffering in the world, that there was a trusted place you could go online to find genuinely effective charities on the ground. Welcome iguacu, an independent non profit organization empowering your desire to give effectively in serious humanitarian crises. Led by an extensive network of experts, iguacu does all the research on various nonprofit organizations and social purpose projects around the world, hand selecting organizations making positive, on the ground impact so you can safely donate to trusted organizations in times of need.
Causeartist was able to connect with iguacu founder, Katherine Davies. After a 55-day, 600-mile journey across the U.K., France and Switzerland, Katherine hand delivered hundreds of public messages of peace for Syria to Staffan De Mistura, the U.N. special envoy to Syria. The initiative, #Message4Peace, inspired the creation of iguacu, to effectively impact global humanitarian crises.
See below a Q & A with Katherine Davies, founder of iguacu!
What inspired your 55-day journey for #Message4Peace?
Permit me to explain the context a little. iguacu (igwah-soo) is an independent non-profit that helps the public worldwide give effectively in serious crises. We investigate effective charities and effective actions in places like Haiti, Syria and South Sudan. We look at the greatest need on the planet.
On Syria, the network of experts that informs our advice had identified an effective charity to support, but also had argued for an awareness-raising campaign. We had been evaluating various options.
Around this time, I was in a cafe in central London, reading news coverage criticizing the efforts in Geneva to broker peace. I was upset, and angry, and wanted to get up then and there and walk to Geneva. I wanted to tell them that the public care a great deal about peace in Syria, and the public back their efforts no matter how challenging. I calmed down. But it got me thinking. Later, speaking with the iguacu team and community, and consulting with the network, I was surprised to find support for a walk.
I looked up the distance and the route. It was unsafe to host a group walk but I didn’t want it to be just about me walking to Geneva. Then Dr. Deborah Distefano, a Board member for iguacu USA, suggested the idea of collecting messages for peace along the walk. I was so inspired by Deborah’s idea and so was everyone else. We created an online site to add messages (message4peace.com exists as an archive) and I collected messages in person from the public along the 600 mile route. It was an incredible experience. And the public do indeed deeply care about peace in Syria. In the end we received messages from 40 countries.
Why “iguacu”? Tell us the story behind the name.
It’s a metaphor for the vision of iguacu. By providing the ‘go to’ place for the world to give and act effectively, iguacu’s vision is to enable the channeling of large scale effective public action to where in the world it is in great need.
The word ‘iguacu’ means ‘big water’ and is also the name of the great South American river known for its awe-inspiring 3km waterfall. iguacu evokes the power and beauty of thoughtful mass action, likening one person’s intention to a drop of water, and mass action to the great and beautiful Iguaçu.
What do you think the biggest challenge is for people who want to give but are unsure of how?
Cutting through the noise.
If you went online after the Nepal earthquake, there were more than 300 charities seeking donations, many making similar claims. Where do you start? No wonder some people just don’t give, or default to a major brand but are left with the niggling feeling, is this really the best charity to donate to in this crisis?
But who has the time to do the kind of extensive research you need to do to answer that question? Precisely why iguacu exists. It is unacceptable that this great wave of compassion that occurs in the world when there is large scale suffering, is not effectively served, nor harnessed so we can act thoughtfully collectively.
People need to know there’s a trusted place they can now go that is not a business, that is a well-run independent 501c3 non-profit, that does a great job serving the public’s desire to give and act effectively. People need to know about iguacu and to let their friends know who care about effective giving. Because together we can build an amazing force for good that makes a massive impact and where it is in great need. We launch the new giving platform in the Fall and it’s an exciting moment. The iguacu community is open to all and everyone. It belongs to the public.
What is the criteria you look for before including a nonprofit or charitable initiative as an iguacu supported organization?
The starting point is the crisis itself. Every crisis is different and occurs in a different context. In each crisis we build an extensive network of experts – experts closest to what’s happening on the ground and best placed to determine which charities are effectively addressing the key humanitarian challenges. We subject the identified charities to further tests of governance, funding needs, transparency and accountability. If it’s a global charity, they must be able to provide a restricted appeal for iguacu donors, that is, all donations through iguacu are restricted to the crisis in question (not diverted to their global pot). Any organization recommended is then monitored on an ongoing basis and subject to change based on their effectiveness and the evolving needs of the crisis.
It’s a hugely labor intensive process and involves a world-class research team and a massive worldwide expert network. But we are building a global community and a trusted name, and nothing less than a great service will do.
We hope your readers will join us, and grow to love and value iguacu and what it means for the world.
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I am a social entrepreneur. That means I use business as a catalyst for social goodness. I am deeply passionate about sustainable travel, zero waste living, ethical fashion and social good. I currently run North India's first zero waste guesthouse, Hara House, and am the Content Director at Causeartist.