Donating to a local cause, especially at this time of the year, can be such a fulfilling event. This is why it’s a good idea to know, in advance, who you’re giving your money to and how they will be using it.
So as you ponder which charity to assist through your donations, we’d like to provide you with a few tips on evaluating those charities.
The core points that you should look at when evaluating a charity are:
- What are their social aims?
- How do they accomplish these objectives?
- What percentage of their donations are directly allocated to charitable purposes vs. administrative?
There are numerous resources available that are designed to help you grade charities based upon these, plus additional, factors. Among the popular ones are:
- The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance
- Charity Navigator
- The American Institute of Philanthropy
- Charity Guide
One thing that you should be aware of when using the charity watchdogs, is that their methodologies tend to be more skewed towards the larger charities. Additionally, some of the techniques that they advocate such as requesting the organization’s Form 990 (a form that non-profit organizations submit to the IRS to show their income and expenses) may not be applicable if the organization is newly formed.
Alternative to Charity Watchdog Websites
As an alternative to relying solely upon the watch dog websites to help evaluate charities, you may also want to take a look at the user review websites where donors and volunteers make public reviews of the organizations that they have supported. One such website is Great Nonprofits.
Another option, besides donating money, is to donate your time. This is especially helpful for smaller local charities when you feel that an organization’s purpose really speaks to your heart, but you are unable to find reviews or grades online. By volunteering for the organization, you can get a better understanding of what the organization is about and how it is meeting its charitable mission.
Joy in Giving
If you choose to give to a charity this year, do so with happiness and encourage others around you to do the same. Volunteerism and charitable giving are contagious and as the old adage says “There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.” You may get back more than you expected.
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