I run an NGO in Argentina, so I totally feel this. We take donations of packaged food, clothing and cameras/computer equipment, but they have to be good quality and what we need for our projects.
Same with volunteers. We match people with local organizations, but only if they bring a real skill and are willing to take responsibility for their projects. No one has the time to handhold. I know that might sound harsh, but when you’re working with limited resources, there’s not a lot of room for waste.
I know people are well meaning when they offer their time and donations, and over the years I’ve had varying levels of patience with it. Some people truly get angry when you can’t use what they offer. Others learn from it.
Right now, I’m working on a project to build a digital photography lab in an area where there’s no running water or electricity. I’ve been researching various things… solar and kinetic power generators, donated computers, DSLR cameras and working with different organizations for both volunteers and donations.
We run on Argentine time. But then there are those magical moments when a volunteer has just the right skills or the donation fits an ongoing project, and then it’s amazing how quickly all the parts fit together.