So I attempted my own charity experiment, which I hate to say I wouldn't recommend to others.
First, I held an online auction, largely targeted at gringos in Brazil, but I got a less than enthusiastic response, and in the end, nearly all of the bidders were Brazilian. I decided to accept only Brazil-based bids, and sent the books out by mail. [A huge thanks to Joao, Denise, and Mariel for participating and giving to a good cause!! I hope you enjoy your books!]
Since I had so many books left over, I decided to donate them, and brought them over to the library at the American School of Rio. There, I was met by the incredibly sweet librarian, who thanked me for the books and invited me to chat, asking me how I found out about the school and my life in Brazil. She asked me to sign the book with my story in it, and told me they would put a little sticker in each book saying I had donated it. It was one of the best parts of the whole experience, though I had hoped to have auctioned off more books to increase the monetary proceeds.
Next, I held a vote to see which NGO I should give the proceeds to. The results showed signs of irregularity, so I held a recount, which very few people voted in. After my two attempts at blog democracy failed, I made an authoritarian decision to give the proceeds to Refazer, since I had really liked the look of it after a reader suggested it, and since they help low-income children and teens with chronic illnesses, as well as their families. I also decided it would be nice to give back to an organization in the neighborhood I made my home for two years.
So I took the R$90 in donations and added R$25 of my own. I also put together some stuff from our apartment, since they also accept those types of donations. Eli and I went to the supermarket and bought a grocery cart full of non-perishable food, like rice, beans, cooking oil, canned food, spaghetti, baby formula, amongst other things (the supermarket didn't have a pre-made cesta basica). We loaded everything into our small cart and hauled the rest by hand twelve long blocks. Poor Eli dragged the cart, which was literally too heavy for me to hold up.
We finally got to the NGO, in a pretty house at the end of a quiet street. We walked in and I poked my head into the first door, asking where we could bring the stuff. The lady was very polite and told us to bring it to reception, next door. There, a man was standing around, and a woman was helping another couple. I asked the guy, who just stared at us, where we should put everything. "You can leave it right here." He took out two cards, and then excused himself. We unloaded some of the stuff. When he came back, Eli asked if they could also use the grocery cart, and he nodded. "Ok, you can have that too then." The guy silently handed us the cards, which were signed by someone from the NGO, and Eli and I wound up awkwardly thanking the guy, rather than vice versa. He didn't ask us about our interest in the NGO, or how we had found the place, or if we'd like to look around or to receive more information about the place. Nothing.
It was the least gratifying charity experience ever. It certainly taught me a lesson about the lack of interest in philanthropy.