With more than a million charitable organizations in the United States alone, picking a charity can be a daunting task. Certain causes may tug at your heartstrings, but once you’ve identified your passion, doing a little fact-finding is an important first step to make sure you’re giving wisely.
Narrow the field with a little research
Want every cent you give to charities to make the greatest impact possible? “Comparison shopping” is one of the best ways to confirm your chosen charities meet your charitable goals.
Before deciding to give, start by reviewing the charity’s sustainability, operational efficiency, financial priorities and ethical conduct. Charities seek to reduce expenses, to be efficient in the ways money is raised, to increase revenue (i.e., donations) and to maintain a healthy balance sheet that ensures a long-term future. IRS-approved charities are accountable and transparent in the reporting of their financial information.
As part of your shopping, research the charitable organization’s history to understand its commitment to achieving real results. If the charity has a broad mission such as ending world hunger, confirm its programs are making progress in achieving such a lofty objective. Always be sure to look for charities dedicated to making lasting results.
A great tip — use our charity search tool to help with your research. Each charity listed has links to its website and GuideStar report with rankings and tax records.
Now dig deeper
Don’t forget to review the charity’s board members. Reputable charities guard against potential conflicts of interest, such as members doing business with the charity or family members holding multiple positions or a controlling voice.
One of the best ways to gain insight into a charity is to volunteer with them and see how they operate from the inside. Your personal experience should be as important of a factor as reviewing the charity’s financials.
Remember you want to support charities that support your passion with positive results. With just a small amount of research and preparation, you can understand how and whom your donations benefit with the biggest impact possible.