Are you willing to help those less fortunate than you? Well, now is the right time to find a charity and donate since many people and many organizations are seriously struggling in 2020. However, if you want to make a real change and ensure your money is going to the right spot, here’s what you should know as a new donor:
Do your homework
In order to make a good decision and not just throw away your money, you need to do your homework and see what kind of impact certain organizations have had in the past and what they are doing today to help their cause. There are even handy tools you can use such as Charity Navigator which can help you look into the charity’s finances and accountability and see just how transparent and honest they are. Other times, you can simply use the internet to check their website.
What you’re looking for is a robust organization with a clear mission and clearly-written names of people who are running the whole thing. There’s no need for the information on people in charge to be a secret—that’s a red flag. Once you have some names to check, look into charity board members (make sure they are not all related) and look for signs of independent leadership and guidance.
Check their finances
Every honest and transparent organization has a plethora of financial information on its website, so every donor can check and see how their money will be spent. Some organizations are spending a lot of money on fancy fundraisers that will use a lot of the collected money on overhead expenses instead of their original goal and purpose—these organizations are bad apples that need to be ignored. One great guideline to use when choosing a charity is to see whether they spend at least 65% of their budget on helping their actual cause.
However, once you think you’ve found your charity, make sure to trust them with your money. In most cases, people there know how to best spend your donations. While overhead costs are important during your selection process, they should not be the only factor.
Pick an organization you’re passionate about
Once you have a few legit organizations, it’s time to choose your cause. Don’t be rash here, and really think about what’s important to you and your family before you start committing to donations. Your organization of choice should be something that will make a difference in the life of others and in your life. For instance, if you’re passionate about fighting cancer, look for different organizations that tackle this disease. If you need some examples, the Hong Kong cancer fund offers not only free cancer care services, but also organizes various educational campaigns that can help with early detection. Such an organization can make a serious change in many people’s lives! So, make sure to be proactive and seek out such charities—the more proactive you are the less likely you’re to run into a scam.
Avoid over-the-phone donations
Legit charities offer the option to donate directly to the charity. People who call you on the phone are usually telemarketers who work for profit and take a big portion of your donation. Even if you know an organization is good and you want to help, keep your information to yourself. Later, go online and donate this way—it offers an easier way to track your money.
Think of it as an investment
Your money is not a gift, it’s an investment in a better future for your cause. So, to improve your investment, it’s best to choose one or two organizations and work with them only instead of making five or six small donations. Keep in mind that you can count your charities as tax write-offs.
Once you find an organization you can stand behind, make sure to support it year after year to make the best impact and allow it to operate efficiently for a long time.