Responsible Charitable Giving

Can you ensure that your donation has impact?  Absolutely.

The majority of annual charitable donations come from individuals, not foundations or corporations. With citizens giving so much of their own money to charities, it’s imperative to know how to donate responsibly.

A good place to start thinking about who to support is actually to consider why you want to–or think you should–support them. Understanding the various motives behind giving can help you determine the best way to donate for you and ultimately decide which charities, causes and nonprofits to give to.  Where is your focus?

  • Compassionate Philanthropy – think animal rescue organizations and homeless shelters
  • The Neediest – consider nonprofits that help eliminate poverty or hunger
  • Altruism – giving with an eye toward cost-effectiveness and a global approach
  • Reparations – social justice, legal rights, and equity causes
  • Fighting Unjust Policy – Groups advancing small change to eradicate larger ideals, such as racism or voting rights.

Because of the nature of their work, all nonprofits and charities can seem inherently good. However, it’s important to research organizations before donating to make sure your money is used ethically and effectively. Questions to ask?

  • Make sure it’s a registered 501(c)(3)
  • Goals, mission, values align with yours
  • Determine whether or not their objectives are attainable and have been progressing
  • Examine annual reports
  • Research the founders, board of directors or leadership team
  • Compare with similar organizations.

Where can you find the above?  The nonprofit’s website should have all of the above on various pages for transparent public review.  If not, consider that a red flag.  Other internet sources to use include:

People donate money to nonprofits with the best intentions, but they should be aware of potential charity scams and fraud. Keeping an eye out for fraudulent organizations protects you, keeps charities more accountable, and makes sure your money goes to legitimate causes. Conducting careful research before sending money to an organization helps you make sure your contribution is used for good ends, and it helps keep charities and nonprofits accountable, too.

BLOG AUTHOR: Karen A. Swanson, CFRE

Jefferson High School Class of 1985