If you’re considering making a donation to a nonprofit but don’t know which one to choose, here are 5 factors to look for.
Maybe it’s Giving Tuesday, the end of the year, or immediately after a major crisis event. You want to donate, but there are tons of organizations that are fundraising and asking for money. Which one do you choose? How do you know it’s a good one?
In the end, you probably want to give to a charity that resonates with your heart and aligns with your values. You want your money to be used wisely and effectively. You want to make the greatest impact possible with your gift.
Here are some factors to help you choose the right nonprofit:
1. Find a nonprofit that works towards a cause meaningful to you
Start with finding a cause that you resonate with on a personal level. It might be something that affects you or your family, such as a health or civil rights issue. Maybe it’s something you heard on the news that you sympathize with, like a natural disaster or acts injustice. Perhaps it’s something that connects to place or people that’s important to you, such as a country you’ve travelled to or a region of your heritage and ancestry. Whatever the issue, there’s a charity working in that space.
2. Find a local charity in your community
If you’re having trouble finding a cause or organization, try looking for a charity in your own community. Choose a nonprofit that’s based in or operates in your city, county, or state. Find one that’s does work that would improve your community.
3. Find an organization that friend supports or works for
Chances are that you most likely have at least one friend who works for a nonprofit. They probably believe strongly in the mission of that organization. So donating to your friend’s nonprofit would both show your support for your friend as well as giving to a good cause. You also likely have friends who contribute regularly to certain charities that you’re not aware of. Use social media to poll your friends and see which charities they recommend supporting.
4. Find a nonprofit that’s been around for a while
It’s a good idea to find nonprofit that’s been around for a few decades, showing they’ve established themselves and are committed to the cause. This is a general consideration and certainly not applicable to all organizations. There are new charities that are extremely effective because they have a fresh perspective and innovative ideas. There are also old organizations that are not impactful at all because they’re stuck in doing the things the same way they’ve always done it and haven’t adapted or grown. But in general, nonprofits that have been around for while have shown they’ve weathered challenges and have continued to grow. They’ve had the time to refine their work and hopefully become more efficient and effective in what they do.
5. Find an organization that is transparent and efficient
Charities my have great marketing and storytelling, but proof of their effectiveness in their transparency. They have open books and show they have nothing to hide. Nonprofits that are transparent will have a section on their website that has their IRS tax forms and external financial audits reports publicly available and downloadable, going back at least 5 years or more. You should also be able to find them on external monitoring sites such as Charity Navigator, Guidestar, and Charity Watch – rated highly in each of those sites. Organizations that don’t have transparency may indicate that they are not very efficient with their funds and don’t want to show that.
I’m glad you’re considering donating to a charity. There that’s a lot of organizations doing important work, and your generosity can make a big difference. But with all the nonprofits out there, it’s hard to pick the right one to give to. And let’s be honest, there are are lot of ineffective organizations out there, and even scam charities that tarnish the reputations of good charities. But by using some of these factors to search and filter through organizations, you’ll find a nonprofit that both does work that you care about and is trustworthy with your donation.