Did you know the average person makes 24% of their annual donations between Thanksgiving and New Year’s? (Center on Philanthropy) So, chances are you or your business is considering your year-end giving right now. But choosing where to give your money can be daunting. There are a few simple things you can do though that will dramatically help you as you choose how to donate your money.
1. Ask yourself what you want to invest in
We often forget that philanthropy is in fact investing in something or someone. It’s investing in graduation for an at-risk youth, a shelter for someone with no home, a world free of disease or infused with art. So the first thing you should ask yourself when making a philanthropic gift is, what do you want to invest in? What change in the world do you want to put your money toward?
2. Do some research
Just like you wouldn’t invest in a new business venture without doing some research, you shouldn’t give blindly either. After having chosen what outcomes you want to invest in (i.e. graduation for at-risk youth), spend some time learning what types of programs really work. This can be as simple as spending some time on Google or as involved as working with experts in the field.
3. Find out who’s offering the best program in which to invest
Just like you wouldn’t go to the grocery store for a computer or Banana Republic for the latest J. K. Rowling novel, you have to make sure you’re going to the right provider for what you want to support. Before making a donation, explore the organization’s website or annual report and look at their programs. Is it offering the kinds of programs and services you learned are effective? What evidence can they provide that their programs are effective at delivering the outcome that you want to see?
4. Employ some due diligence
Check in with organizations like Charity Navigator or GuideStar to make sure that the organization is financially transparent. While many of these rating organizations publish the overhead ratio (how much money is spent on overhead versus programs), even these rating organizations are realizing how little that tells you about a nonprofit. The big thing to look for is whether the organization is fiscally sound.
We hope these tips let you give with more confidence this season!