How to Decide Whether to Donate to a Local or Global Charity

How to Decide Whether to Donate to a Local or Global Charity


While it’s often easy to decide to donate to a charitable cause, it is generally much harder to figure out which organization to support. When choosing a charity to support, it is important to think about the issues for which you have the most passion in order to narrow down the options. However, a wide range of different organizations will likely be focusing on those issues. One of the next steps in narrowing down the potential recipients is to figure out whether you would prefer to support a local or global charity. Neither decision is better than the other, as each one has its pros and cons. You should understand these advantages and disadvantages when thinking about charities that work on different scales in order to ensure that your final decision aligns with your goals and expectations.

Staying Local

When researching which charities to support, many people look at rating and watchdog websites. These services often weigh overhead heavily in their ratings. As a result, smaller organizations with less overhead receive higher scores. From the point of view of a donor, this means that a larger portion of a donation goes directly to the cause itself rather than to administrative costs. With larger, global organizations, a much smaller fraction of the donation will typically go toward supporting programming, although it is important to research an organization for verification. The other major benefit of donating locally is that you will be able to see the impact of your gift more readily. You may see the organization grow or recognize the changes that it has helped to make possible with your support. To that same end, many people consider donations to local charities as an investment in their own communities.

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While these benefits may persuade many donors to give locally, it is important to keep in mind that small nonprofits do pose some degree of risk. Often, these organizations are less established and thus have a greater chance of closing. Moreover, they may not have a lot of success in achieving their goals, especially if they are newer and do not have experienced leadership. Organizations that are just getting set up may also need to devote most of their funds to administrative costs, particularly if they do not have access to grants and other funding sources.

Going Global

One of the reasons why many people choose to donate to global organizations is that the dollar goes much further in places outside of the United States. A local donation to a food charity, for example, may feed a handful of people, while the same donation could feed a hundred people in a less-developed country. In addition, since global charities are generally well-established, they can clearly demonstrate the impact that they have made over the years and can better measure their accomplishments than smaller charities. While donors may not directly see the impact that their donations have made, they can gain a fuller sense of the work they have helped to support. In addition, organizations with a long history generally appear to be more stable, so there is less of a chance that the charity will suddenly stop operating.

At the same time, many donors find it difficult to support global organizations when there are so many communities in need in the United States. For the most part, individuals will have to do a lot more legwork when donating to global charities to ensure that their funds have the greatest possible impact.

The Bottom Line

Every donor must make a personal decision about whether to support local or global charities. Furthermore, many individuals choose to donate to both types of organizations. You should also think about local and global charities as two ends of a spectrum, as there are also organizations that work regionally and nationally. Ultimately, individuals need to think about the benefits and drawbacks of supporting these types of decisions and the impact that they want to make. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that every organization is different, so it is important to research the finances, goals, and values of each before making a donation. Examining the impact that each of these groups has made in recent years is a great way to gauge their potential for the future and make the most informed decision possible.


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