After a largely overwhelming and unsettling year, it’s comforting to witness the warm, familiar spirit of generosity uniquely emblematic of the holiday season. For both families and associations, financial circumstances and priorities have shifted significantly — underscoring the increased importance of making informed decisions when selecting a cause or charity to support this season.
With the COVID-19 pandemic and an extraordinarily tumultuous 2020 leaving a shortfall of funding, the number of families, nonprofits, and organizations in need of philanthropic contributions rises daily, and the repercussions of this shortage will last long into the new year.
This widespread need tugs at the hearts of those in a position to give, and it’s easy to become caught up giving to a less well meaning organization. As your family or administration identifies causes that resonate with your values and navigates the accompanying lists of donation options, be sure to take time to examine and understand the mission and funding allocation structure behind the charities that you’re considering supporting before making a commitment.
To help determine if the charitable organization is the right fit for you and to learn how it spends funds, including how much goes to overhead vs. how much goes to the actual cause, research using reputable charity evaluators, such as Charity Navigator or GuideStar.
Charity Navigator evaluates charitable organizations via a number-based rating system, objectively measuring financial health, accountability, and transparency to help donors make intelligent contributions and bolster performance for the nonprofit sector. Their search engine of all compiled data, in addition to further tools and resources for prospective supporters, can be accessed for free.
GuideStar, a nonprofit information service specializing in charitable company reporting, offers potential givers a free search engine of comprehensive data and analysis, as well as reports and insights covering finances, leadership, and mission for 1.8 million nonprofit organizations.
Additionally, you can find information through a searchable IRS database of charities, where you can verify the organization’s charitable status, or at the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, where you can check reviews from other donors.
A little research ensures that your money goes where you meant it to go. Give wisely.