Which Charity Should I Donate To?
It used to be a challenge getting people to be charitable and donate to a charity. Today, that’s no longer the case. In fact, if you are reading this you are likely looking for guidance as to which charity is right for you.
The change in voluntarily contributing comes with a social shift where consumers almost expect businesses to be engaged in some type of charity work, whether that is environmental or social. In fact, over 90% of consumers admitted their willingness to switch brands due solely to the company’s dedication to charitable giving.
So, how do you select the best charity to donate to? Sadly, it is no longer as simple as dumping some change into a Salvation Army bucket during the holidays and feeling like you have made a difference.
The first step in evaluating a charity is to create a set of internal guidelines that will help evaluate whether or not the charity in question will spend the donated money on the actual mission they stand for rather than outside activities and efforts. For example, if you were donating to a women’s shelter, you would want to make sure the donation went to those in need rather than, say, a new office for the staff of said women’s shelter.
One tool that will greatly help with identifying their spending habit is a service called GuideStar, which possesses 1.8 million nonprofit organization’s records. Through this service, which is free, you can find information on a charity including spending, income, executive salaries and mission expenses.
Once you have looked into the spending, it is also smart to evaluate the overall rating of the charity or company. This can easily be done through the Better Business Bureau (BBB). Housed on the BBB website are thousands of reviews on seemingly every reputable company. If you cannot find your charity of choice there, try the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. This resource is just as valuable as the information housed in GuideStar, if not more important. It will help you identify whether the charity is transparent and truthful in their mission. The charities are also scored by 20 different standards of accountability such as effectiveness, governance and oversight.
The third place to analyze your charity of choice is Charity Navigator. This service is known for its reliable research and information on accountability and financial health for charities.
Taking it a step further, it would also be wise to do an in-person interview if you feel the need to do so. Think of this as more of a tour of their efforts rather than a job or press interview. More often than not, charities have specific employees or departments who oversee donor relationships. Regardless of the size of your monetary contribution, it is always helpful to see what you are donating to and understand what your money will be doing. Seeing that effort in person is better than most online searches or reviews by a long shot.
As a side note, TedTalks suggests communicating with the charity about the current goals of the charity and what their progress is. Reputable charities often have an annual goal, be that fundraising or similar. It is important to understand how their own progress is measured, too, because it sheds light on what data is most important to them as well as how they adjust their charitable behavior based on the results of that data collection.
There are some problems like global warming and climate change that are often too large to consider completely eradicated or solved immediately. Charities and companies working to solve largely complex issues should not be punished for seeming ineffectiveness. For example, Kyäni Caring Hands seeks to feed children in need throughout the world and provide basic educational needs and supplies to them.
The consideration you take in selecting the perfect charity for your donation is about more than just finding a good place to contribute and help. It is about sacrificing today for a better tomorrow while altering the philanthropic mentality we have for the better.