Good Intentions Blog

Date Article
February 25, 2015

Aid agency advertising images

February 18, 2015

Four reasons to NOT donate baby formula overseas

February 11, 2015

Guideline #4 for volunteering overseas

February 4, 2015

Disaster Tourism

January 28, 2015

Guideline #4 for Volunteering Overseas

January 21, 2015

When is it appropriate for a donor to visit an aid recipient?

January 14, 2015

Guideline #3 for Volunteering Overseas

January 7, 2015

Would you hire a doctor or a contractor whose work was never evaluated?

December 31, 2014

No Silver Bullets

December 24, 2014

How is the sweater your aunt Martha gave you similar to charitable donations?

December 17, 2014

Guideline #2 for volunteering overseas

December 10, 2014

Guideline #1 for Volunteering Overseas

December 4, 2014

Well-intended attempts to help after a disaster may make a confusing situation worse

December 3, 2014

How to determine if an aid project is a good idea

November 26, 2014

Common donor misconceptions

November 19, 2014

The worst in-kind donations

September 30, 2014

The most useful in-kind donations

September 23, 2014

Bad Donor Advice Perpetuates Bad Aid Practices

September 16, 2014

Hamburgers for Hindus

September 9, 2014

Charity Ratings Based on Administration Costs can do More Harm Than Good

September 2, 2014

Food aid does not address the underlying cause of world hunger

August 26, 2014

The Allure of the Quick Fix

August 19, 2014

A contest to find the worst examples of in-kind donations

August 12, 2014

5 questions you should ask before donating goods overseas.

August 5, 2014

Beggars can’t be choosers, but are they really beggars…

July 29, 2014

Choosing the right aid agency can be a daunting and frustrating task

Best practices often lose out to quick and cheap programs that please donors

“Sexy” projects are easier to fund

Advertising images tell you a lot about an aid agency

Why I Blog

Who deserves to receive aid?

Good Intentions are Not Enough

If aid were like McDonald’s

Mosquito Nets, Condoms, and Recycling

Lessons Not Learned

Sending sports equipment to needy children may seem like a good idea, but is it…

Leave A Reply:

  1. Yes, I hear your point there, particularly the last one. We need to empower disaster-ravaged communities with tools, resources and training that would improve their lot. We must bear in mind that donating just about anything, e.g. soccer equipment, we may just become enablers of misery, rather than arrays of hope.

  2. Tough call. I see your point but there has to be some kind of a line where aid is actually aid. When folks are in true need, they may need help now. Not to have to try to find a local merchant who can help them at a price and thats if they even have money to spend.

  3. Tracrat, When is sporting equipment ever something that people need help now and can't wait to find a local merchant? And it is probably far quicker to find a local merchant than to take up a collection, ship it, clear customs and transport it. Additionally it can also be cheaper to buy goods locally than to pay for shipping, customs, and overland transportation. Immediately after a disaster there may be a need for very specific disaster response supplies to be shipped in, but even then shipments of things like sporting equipment may clog the ports and prevent critical goods from clearing customs.

  4. I understand. How about sending warm clothing...parkas, snow pants, etc. to regions that have a need for winter clothing? Cold weather clothing can be a real challenge.

  5. Pat, No matter what type of goods people want to donate, it is always best to purchase goods in country. That way you support the local shopkeepers and factory workers as well as the person receiving assistance. If they make money selling these goods they will likely spend the money they make buying other goods and the whole economy benefits.

  6. This article sums up something I came across recently. I was visiting one of our projects in Latin America and met a donor from a church organization in the states that happened to be there at the same time. She had received donated baseball equipment (balls, bats, gloves) and baseball team uniforms from Little League teams in her town. She sent these items over via an ocean freight to the country which cost her church over $7,000. She then flew down to distribute these uniforms and equipment to all the local neighborhood teams. She kept telling everyone that these items were a blessing to the teams because they didn't have matching uniforms and it was an embarrassment to the kids. Her reasoning behind the donation was that it would help kids continue to play baseball and stay off of the streets and away from drugs. Mind you, she didn't have enough equipment to give to everyone and the uniforms weren't even the right sizes. I was at such a loss of words. With $7,000, she would have had more than enough to purchase equipment and uniforms for each player, AND order them in their correct size with their name on it! I didn't know what to say...come to find out, she has been working on projects like these for 10+ years.

  7. Pingback: Good Intentions Are Not Enough » Blog Archive » 5 questions you should ask before donating goods overseas. July 18, 2010

    […] Sending sports equipment to needy children may seem like a good idea, but is it… […]

  8. Here's one alternative to sending your used sports equipment to Africa: Alive & Kicking ( are a social enterprise that produce footballs, volleyballs and netballs in Kenya and Zambia for distribution across Africa. The balls are sourced from local leather and are stitched by local people, employed on a fair wage. The balls are sold not-for-profit in retail outlets across Eastern and Southern Africa, providing a locally made alternative to imported synthetic balls (which are less-well suited to African playing conditions). Others are donated to schools and youth projects in disadvantaged areas where there is a genuine need for such items, typically in collaboration with a local sports NGO. As the balls are produced locally there are little transport costs, and each one supports the sustainable employment of local people. Alive & Kicking is the only formal manufacturer of footballs in sub-Sahran Africa.

  9. Pingback: Why do Aid Bloggers get Snarky | Good Intentions Are Not Enough January 2, 2012

    […] problems of donated goods repeatedly over the last year. In fact my very first post ever was about donated sports equipment. I have written about problems with donated medicine, baby formula, and shoes. I’ve even held […]

  10. The thing is that if the items being shipped are in bulk it ends up outweighing the costs of shipping as more stuff could be sent over. But if they are just a handful, it's better to have them bought locally.