Charity Navigator

Home » Charity Navigator

Five Tips for How to Find the Right Charity to Support

How to Pick the Right Charity

Supporting a charity can be a rewarding way to give back. But before you start making donations, it is important to choose a charity that is in line with your objectives. There are so many different charitable organizations around these days, and some are not entirely honest about how donations are used. Sadly, there are also a lot of scams out there. While it’s not always easy to make an informed decision, these guidelines may prove helpful.

1. Choose Your Cause

Some of us feel passionate about a specific cause, like preserving the environment, helping underprivileged children, or funding research about a disease that has affected someone we love. If you don’t already have a cause that is close to your heart, start by investigating the options out there, such as the fields of medicine, education, art and culture, military veterans, and the environment. Eventually, something should resonate and you’ll realize what’s right for you.

2. Do Your Homework

Many causes have several specialized charities dedicated to them. Once you have chosen a cause that you believe in, start researching charities that support it. Unfortunately, some of the charities out there may not be legitimate. Once you have a short list of charities you are considering, do a search of each charity’s name. If any red flags come up, it may be best to avoid that particular organization. You can also use sites like GuideStar, CharityWatch, or Charity Navigator to help research the charities before committing to donations.

3. Check with the Charity Personally

The only way you will know for certain that the charity’s work is in line with your objectives is by checking in personally. Visit them, ask for a tour, call, or email them and ask important questions like:

  • Exactly how are donations used?
  • How is the effectiveness of your work evaluated?
  • What progress are you making towards your goals?
  • How is this measured?
  • What is your privacy policy?

4. Decide What to Give

Although it is probably the most common method of support, donating money is not the only option when it comes to supporting a charity. Time is valuable, too.

5. Give

  • Money – If you decide to donate money, consider setting up a regular donation you can afford. Remember that donations are often tax deductible. Make sure you check your bank account to make sure that you are only charged what you have agreed to donate and keep a record of all donations.
  • Time – Many charities need volunteers as much as they need donations. Let them know what you do for a living and what other skills you have. It can be extremely rewarding to donate your time, especially if you can provide a service at which you are particularly skilled.
  • Blood or hair – Donating blood requires just a few minutes of your time and can really help save a life. Human hair wigs can be costly so donating hair can help to drastically improve the life of somebody suffering from cancer and undergoing chemotherapy.

How to Choose a Charity? Tips for Individuals

How do donors ‘choose’ a charity? How much research do donors and sponsors do when trying to find a foundation or not-for-profit to bestow their gifts on? With a dazzling array of causes, many backed by celebrities, it can be a tough choice, especially if you want to ensure that your donation reaches those who really need it.

donating for different causesGiving USA released a report in early 2015, which totalled the value of charitable donations in the US at $358.38 billion in 2014; the largest amount of money in 60 years. The report confirmed that many people don’t spend a lot of time researching charities, foundations and not-for-profit organisations. It was considered that only around 35% of donors would spend any significant amount of time researching a foundation or organisation before donating.

How Much Bang for Your Charitable Buck?

A number of organisations have recently come under the spotlight, amid allegations of financial mismanagement and funds not reaching the people or causes that require them most urgently. Donors are also looking closer to home, within their own countries and communities as a way of ensuring that every donation is really going to a worthy recepient.

Charity Navigator, an organisation that previously listed and ranked foundations and charities based upon their financial accountability and transparency, is now rating and ranking those bodies based on their actual results. This may be a nebulous yardstick, considering some of the work involved, but performance measurement is becoming more and more important in a world with ever-increasing demands competing for donors’ attention.

Ultimately, it should be considered that, although it is reported that wealthy donors tend to give to alumni foundations, hospitals and museums — the bulk of the number over overall donations made to charitable organisations, en masse, come from lower profile individuals, and every one of their dollar should be used as wisely as possible.