How to choose a charity that fits your interests
No matter who you are, it feels good to help others. An important way that you can make a difference in the lives of other people is by supporting the charitable organizations that are close to your heart. But with so many non-profits out there, many with overlapping missions and goals, how do you go about deciding which ones to support? If you’ve found a charity that matches your interests, but aren’t yet sure if it’s the right fit for you overall, here are some questions to consider.
Does the organization do a good job of achieving their mission? First and foremost, you want to make sure your money is going towards the causes you think it is. Understand the mission statement of the charity, then research how they’ve gone about achieving their goals. If there are tangible results, it’s a good sign that you’ve chosen the right organization.
Is the organization transparent and upstanding? The next step is to see if the charity is forthcoming with information about itself. Its website should list the board of directors, staff members, and tax status. Remember that 501(c)3 organizations are the ones that allow you to make tax-deductible donations. Be sure to check the financials of the charity as well; they should be easily accessible from the website. Databases like GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and the BBB Giving Wise Alliance can help you figure out the accountability of almost any charity.
Are there ways to get involved? If you can’t always give money, another good way to see if a charity is a good match for you is to see if there are volunteer opportunities available. Being able to donate your time and energy to a cause is sometimes more valuable than donating money. Working alongside other people in the organization will give you a good idea of how well their values fit with your own, too.
Have you uncovered any red flags during your research? If there seems to be missing information from their website, such as a lack of concrete goals or a vague mission statement, that’s a sign that the organization may not be reputable. Internet searches for news articles can help you determine if you should be suspicious. Also, if the non-profit doesn’t appear to be very active, you’d probably be better off donating your time or money to a different group.
Does your gut tell you the fit is right? When making contact with an organization, do you feel pressured by them to make a donation, or register for an event? Are they unwilling to send you materials pertaining to their mission? If you get a generally negative feeling about a charity, trust your instincts. It’s better to choose an organization you feel good about than one that leaves something to be desired.
How to Choose a Charity Wisely [NY Times]