Give Back—How Do I Choose the Right Charity?

Give Back—How Do I Choose the Right Charity?

When choosing organizations to support, it is good to think about their impact on the world around you. That can include the big ball where we all live or the local or regional communities and churches that touch our lives daily. We can also support the industry associations that support our businesses. And don’t forget the educational institutions where our future will be “grown.”  We can support environmental work, charities for food, shelter and healthcare, aid for underdeveloped countries, promotion of the arts and gifts to promote education and training.

One thing to remember is that support can be provided in more ways than hard cash. As companies we can share our resources with a chosen organization—

  • Allow our Human Resources staff to assist with interviews, training and development for a period of time each month.
  • Offer clerical assistance from volunteers in the company either on company time or on their own.
  • Invite members of the nonprofit to sit in on internal training or motivational presentations.
  • Develop incentives for employees that encourage involvement in the community and recognize and support their efforts when they do.
  • Offer services “in-kind.”
  • When a financial support decision is made, one way to be sure that you are supporting the best charity is to take the time to investigate the organization to be sure they are good stewards and are using their funding wisely. All are not created equally! As with most charitable endeavors, the satisfaction you derive is often linked to how hands-on you are with the organization. Getting involved—or seeing it in action for yourself—is a great way to see how they spend their money first-hand and an overall part of your own fulfillment as a giver. Here are some other tips on how to choose the right charity:

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    1. Know what you value.

    Before you volunteer your time or open your checkbook it is important to clarify what it is you believe in, your personal and organizational core values. Think about what matters to you most and find a charity that will support your vision.

    2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

    Charities are required to provide information about their programs and expenses. If you do not get adequate answers to your questions, do not give to the charity. Start with questions like these:

  • How will my gift be spent?
  • What percentage of your funding is directly given to support the cause vs. administration, salaries and expenses?
  • How many people did you help last year and in what way did you give support?
  • Are there people who have benefited from your association’s services that I can reach out to?
  • How does the charity evaluate its effectiveness?
  •  3. Make sure the charity is legitimate. 

    Be smart about where you donate your money. Do not donate money without checking to be sure the nonprofit is legitimate. There are a few ways to go about this:

  • The Internal Revenue Service maintains a list of organizations registered as charities.
  • GuideStar or other similar online sites are excellent resource that can be used to ensure that the charity is a legitimate tax-exempt organization in good standing with the IRS.
  • You can also make sure that the charities are listed with the Better Business Bureau and if they have had any complaints filed against them for behaviors or practices that are not up to par.
  • 4. Trust your instincts.

    If you have doubts about the charity after your research, do not contribute. Instead, find another nonprofit that does similar work in which you feel comfortable making your donation.

    Giving back is a wonderful thing. It is even better when you feel connected to the charity you are supporting. Get involved. Encourage your friends and family and your organization to get involved as well. After all, we are sharing this journey with one another and our path is connected with the world and all its inhabitants—today more than any other time in history. 

     

    2 Responses

    1. My sister and her husband are looking for a non-profit charity that they can support and sometimes volunteer for. I thought you made an interesting point when you explained that people shouldn’t be afraid to ask an organization how their donation will be used. I’ll be sure to share this information with my sister so that they can find the right organization to support.

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