According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) there are currently over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations operating today in the United States alone. It’s heartening to see such a proliferation of non-profit organizations and charities populating our country, in support of virtually any cause one can imagine. With so much choice, companies, organizations, individuals and families have the opportunity to support a charity in line with their beliefs and relevant causes. When it comes down to finding the charity that’s right for you, consider the following questions;
1. Is the cause important to you?
It’s been proven time and time again that donors respond best to personal appeals. This means that people will give more or perhaps more regularly to causes that feature the personal narrative of an individual. On the surface this may simply confirm that we are emotional beings that want to help when we see others in need, and can empathize with them. But if we look a little deeper, maybe the reason we react so quickly to stories of other people is because we connect with them in some way. In the spirit of connection, it makes sense to give to causes that you feel linked to. If a cause has something to do with your own experience or those of a loved one, then perhaps you will stick with this particular organization.
2. Is the charity legitimate?
Unfortunately, some businesses obscure their intentions and try to scam people looking to do something good. Avoid fraudulent charities by not giving out personal information to “charities” on the phone or that email you. Instead, do your own research. Look up your charity through sites like the Wise Giving Alliance – which is operated by the Better Business Bureau. Or do research on sites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar.
3. What are the Goals of the organization?
In addition to the mission statement of the organization, take some time to find out what the short and long-term goals are of the charity and what the metrics are for determining whether or not those goals have succeeded or failed.
4. How transparent is the administration?
This area of transparency and financial reporting can get a bit tricky. As a donor you should make sure that there is complete transparency as to how the organization is spending its money. However, when simply numbers are revealed, there is no room for members of the organization to provide context for spending. This is why I encourage donors to seek out a more complete picture of what the charity is trying to accomplish short-term and long-term. This also goes back to making sure that the goals for the organization are clearly defined upfront.
5. Can you afford to contribute regularly?:
Although charities are lucky to have your monetary support whenever it is available, if you are in a financial position where you can contribute regularly, then you should strongly consider that option. A consistent recurring payment plan is desirable for most organizations as this allows these organizations the chance to better estimate their budgets. Consistent payment encourages accurate long-term planning for organizational growth and health.
6. What do you want out of this experience?
If you are going to be committing money and possibly time to a cause, make sure you know what you want out of this experience going in . Just as you made sure the objectives of the potential charity were clear, ensure that your personal goals are clear as well. What do you hope to contribute? And what will make you keep giving? Although you may not be able to answer some of these questions for yourself, make sure that you consider them before committing to a charity.