The latest data shows that donating to charity has increased over the last few years despite the economic uncertainty spread across the globe. 2020 was a record-breaking year, with individuals donating approximately $324.10 billion.
A donation is more than an act of kindness— it allows charities to work towards their goals. However, charities aren’t the only ones reaping the benefits. Donating makes individuals feel a greater sense of purpose, strengthens their core values, and can even inspire their close circle of family and friends to give.
If you want to give to a new charity or start donating this year, it’s important to choose the proper organization that aligns with your beliefs. After you click the submit button online (or mail out a donation cheque), you want to feel confident and secure that your money is going to those who need it most.
One of the best ways to determine if a charity is reliable, secure, and authentic is to make a list of questions. You don’t need to ask these questions directly to the organization. Instead, these questions can be used as a guide to help to ensure you collect all the relevant information as you research the charitable organization and prepare to donate.
Below are 11 questions to keep in mind when donating to charity:
1) Who are they, and what do they do?
A key characteristic of a trustworthy charity is its ability to explain its mission and programs. The organization’s messaging, values, and initiatives should be transparent.
For example, the United Way’s mission is: “Improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.” Their straightforward, attainable, and inspirational mission statement immediately helps individuals envision how their donation can make an impact.
2) What are the organization’s short-term and long-term goals?
Find out what quantifiable short-term and long-term goals the organization has implemented. A short-term goal is what they have set out to achieve in 12 months or less. On the other hand, a long-term goal is what they want to accomplish beyond 12 months (even spanning up to a decade).
3) What progress has been made towards the goals they have set?
It is beneficial to investigate the amount of progress a charity has made toward accomplishing its short-term and long-term goals. Do their fundraising pages have progress bars? Are they regularly sharing milestones on social media? These are a couple of ways to know if the charity you are considering donating to is effectively working towards its goals.
4) Are they registered?
If you’re interested in deducting donations from your taxes, ensure the charitable organization is registered with the IRS. This registration allows the organization to issue special receipts, allowing you to receive special tax benefits in exchange for your donations.
5) What percentage of the money they raise goes towards the cause?
Alongside finding out how much money the charity receives in total, it’s also advisable to investigate how much of that money goes to the cause(s) they aim to support. According to the charity evaluator CharityWatch, it’s best to support organizations that use at least 75% of donations for direct aid.
6) How is my personal information protected?
If you want to learn more about how your personal and financial information is being stored when you make online donations, look for the organization’s security protocols so you can rest assured that nothing confidential is leaked.
7) Do the Organization’s Values Align with Mine?
After reviewing a charity’s list of values, ask yourself: “Do these align with my morals and values?” For example, if their organizational values are compassion, diversity, and integrity, which also happen to match your beliefs, you will feel more confident and proud of your donation.
8) Do the Programs Make Sense to Me?
Ensure the organization is working toward their goals in a way that makes sense to you. Some organizations’ initiatives sound good on paper, but in reality, they might be a little too ambitious or vague for your liking.
9) Why Do I Want to Give?
Take some time to reflect on the intentions behind your charitable giving. Are you looking to support a specific cause? Do you want to help a struggling population?
There is no right or wrong answer to what motivates you to donate, but you should still consider this to set up a sustainable donation plan.
10) How Much Can I Afford to Give?
Determine how much you can afford to set aside for charitable donations. Keep in mind that smaller, recurring donations can be more meaningful than making a large, significant donation once a year.
11) When Should I Give?
Approximately 30% of all annual giving takes place in December. With nonprofits and charities needing funding all year long, consider spreading out your donations to make a positive impact during all seasons.
Should a Donation be Forthcoming?
Only you can decide whether to donate to a charity based on your gut instinct and judgment. Take your time to investigate, formulate comprehensive answers to the above questions, and then decide on your next steps.
Every donation should bring a smile to your face— especially when you realize your money went to a cause that truly needed it.