You will probably receive a request to donate to a charity today. It’s part of a charitable movement called #GivingTuesday, the brainchild of New York’s 92nd Street Y to raise funds that rival the spending levels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The event is also kicking off the giving season and shining a much-needed spotlight on nonprofits that are having a positive impact on our communities.
Since you are a good person (otherwise why would you even click on this post?) you may be tempted to dash off a check and call it a day. While that may help today it is important that your hard earned dollars will help tomorrow as well.
So how do you choose the right charity for you and the funding you can offer?
It can be tough, much like going on a first date. Hopefully these 5 tips that I drafted while working at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley will help ease the process before that awkward good night kiss.
1. Clear Goals
What is the goal of the charity asking for your support? Is it well intentioned but broad or is it focused with a history of meeting set targets? Many charities are well intended however it is important to find out how specific their goals are and their history of effectiveness.
2. Personal Connection
There are many charities doing great work in your community however you only have so much support you can give. One way to focus your options is to find an organization that interests you and that may appeal to your willingness to volunteer. Shared interest can help you feel more connected to their goal and help you advocate for your new cause.
3. No Blind Dates
Before you part with your hard earned dollars, bags of winter clothes or hours of free time it is important to get to know charities. Nonprofits should welcome your questions and provide you with answers so that you can decide if you want to support them. Many nonprofits even have community relations staff members to answer questions from residents. Only donate if you feel comfortable with an organization after you have satisfied your own curiosity.
4. Spend Time Together
Sometimes the best way to find out about a nonprofit is to volunteer (read United Way’s 5 Questions to Ask Yourself before Volunteering). Sharing your time with a charity in need of your skills can allow you to step behind the scenes before making a decision to provide long-term support.
5. Stay Curious
Never stop asking questions. The more informed you are about an issue the more questions you may have. Stay up to date on programmatic changes, new initiatives, key staff turnover and financial judgment.
How do you choose a charity?