We’re going to show you more ways to get involved than you can shake a big stick at! But inevitably nothing we do can go on without financial support – an average delivery of materials and volunteers to Ukraine, for example, costs around £1000 per vehicle – so the first thing we must ask is that if we’ve inspired you at all to help, please donate anything you can manage. The easiest way is via PayPal (where you can use a bank card and won’t need to create an account; the link for that is near the bottom-right) — to begin, click on the logo:
Naturally we can also accept cheques and (if you wish anonymity) postal orders; these should be payable to “Aid Convoy” and sent to us at 8 Hamilton Square, Birkenhead, Merseyside, CH41 6AU, United Kingdom.
Now, what else can you do? Well, you can be one of us! We are all volunteers. The most exciting thing you can do, if you are able to, is come along! Let us help with advice on fundraising, vehicle preparation, and the paperwork — and get you addicted to aid work! A typical convoy, involving aid delivery and a few days supporting projects on the ground, can be completed within two weeks. A unique and refreshing way to spend some annual leave!
Naturally, there are also plenty of ways you can help from home too:
- Raise awareness, and ask all your acquaintances if their employer can donate anything. Your personal involvement can get so much more from people than random advances from unknown charities, not least because it makes it more interesting for the donors, and also more trustworthy.
- Ask us about what we’re currently in need of, then make contact with local businesses and organisations and ask them to donate. Even if you don’t know them, the fact that you are local can make all the difference. And it’s incredible what gets thrown away due to being surplus to requirements, or failing to meet legislation, etc.
- Hold fundraising events. This can be so much fun — whatever your hobby, passion, obsession, sport… just arrange to do it and get sponsored. Or have a day where others are invited to join in. Everything works, from sponsored walks, to meals themed around one of our countries, to musical concerts.
So what are the kinds of materials we collect?
- Medical equipment
This is what we take the most of. This is partly due to urgent need, and also because there are some places where no other supplies are permitted through customs processes.
- Educational materials
Computers, stationery, and even schoolbooks. The English-language nature of UK donations is never a problem because the materials can be used to teach English as well as their actual subject matter!
- Construction equipment, tools, and supplies
Many of our projects involve paying local builders, thereby helping the local economy as well as achieving the construction we want. Supplying tools is a great way to start this kind of initiative in places where previous businesses have collapsed, and contributes to fighting unemployment and poverty. We also welcome donations of other hardware including (unused) toilet ceramics and plumbing supplies, for example.
- Baby supplies
We’re often in contact with community centres and through them, incredibly impoverished families. In addition, in refugee camps we see people who have lost everything. Whilst it is rarely efficient to transport food and clothes from the UK, baby-care supplies are always welcome.
- Tents, sleeping bags, etc.
For dire emergencies, sometimes very urgently needed.
There are things we need for ourselves too, to keep things running. We always welcome extra donations of:
- CB and (increasingly useful) VHF / UHF radios
- Suitable vehicles and spares
Transit vans, Land Rovers, ambulances… we often donate the vehicles to projects as part of the aid. This is particularly important in places where they will likely be destroyed by fighting or even bombing, and ongoing replacements are needed. We also run some vehicles as regular delivery and support workhorses. From Dodge 50s (which can cope with the most extreme conditions and incredibly basic “bush repairs”) to Transit Vans (which are usually easy to find spares for in our target countries), any offer will be seriously considered and the best use for it found.
- Storage space
Reliable storage locations for donations are always a priority, and a perennial problem, since they are often available and offered to us only for limited periods. To help us to be able to accept donations, even short-term use of such spaces is very welcome (although logistically, periods of less than two months become harder to make use of). Our major centres of operation are Aberdeenshire, Merseyside, and East Sussex, although through our network of volunteers we can sometimes store (and welcome more storage) in all areas.
Contact us by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone: from the UK on 0131 208 2828, and internationally on +44 131 208 2828. This is a virtual number which means our teams can access it from anywhere if necessary. Should you have difficulty with it, please email us for an alternative direct line. Postal communications may be sent to Aid Convoy, 8 New Street, Crewe, CW1 5PN, UK.
The “small print” (which we’ve kept at a readable size!)
PayPal requires us to advise our US donors that “Donations to Aid Convoy are not tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes.”
All donors may wish to know that we are a “charitable organisation”. Due to somewhat Byzantine changes in UK Charity law, some organisations (including us) were advised to become a “charity registered for tax purposes”, rather than a “registered charity”, but following further changes we are now in the process of changing our paperwork with a view to becoming a traditional registered charity. Unfortunately however, another group has (in late 2013) changed their name into a copy of ours, while our registration was in progress. This is not supposed to be possible, since our operating name was long established, and we are following up the matter with the Charity Commission! No fraud appears to have been intended, but that said, we understand the police are investigating the other organisation in relation to money flowing to Syria. Therefore, please contact us directly if you are in any doubt whatsoever about how to deal with the right organisation! In the meantime, we do not hold a “charity number” to give you, but you can still fill out a Gift Aid form and we should in due course be able to claim the Gift Aid on any donations made by UK taxpayers. (This is handled by the Revenue & Customs service, independently of Charity Commission registration.)