With many charity organizations available, it is vital that you know how to pick the charity that you would support. In this article, Julie Jason gives us a guideline on how you can choose a charity. Read on to find out how to pick a charity.
How To Pick A Charity that You Can Believe in
Here are some questions to ask charities
Last week, we talked about the 9,048 charities rated by Charity Navigator. Those organizations “depend on support from individual contributors and foundations.” Others, such as those that provide services, are not rated.
Leaving ratings aside, let me share some additional thoughts on how to pick a charity that you can believe in and stand behind for a long time.
The quotes below are directly from Charity Navigator’s “Questions To Ask Charities Before Donating“.
My comments are based on my experiences on a few nonprofit boards over the years and a three-year volunteer stint as the state of Connecticut’s representative to the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, “the federal advisory committee charged with providing taxpayer suggestions to improve IRS customer service.”
1. “What is your organization’s mission?
If a charity struggles in explaining its mission and its programs, it will probably struggle in delivering those programs. Healthy organizations know exactly who they are, what they do, and why they are needed.”
Very well said. This insight applies to any venture, including for-profit businesses.
2. “What are your organization’s goals?
Goals are a necessary tool to measure success. Without establishing clear goals, it’s challenging to measure success. If a charity cannot communicate its goals, both short and long term, it is difficult for a donor to know what the charity is working towards.”
Again, who can disagree? Occasionally, serendipity can lead to a successful outcome. But you can’t run an organization that routinely delivers good outcomes without goals and metrics. Once more, this rule applies to all ventures.
3. “What progress is your organization making toward its goals?
Ask your organization what it has done to make the issue it confronts better. Can the organization demonstrate how their actions have impacted their progress?”
Actions speak louder than words.
4. “What sources are available to increase my confidence in your work?
Our research has shown that [the] majority of charities are responsible, honest, and well-managed. Healthy charities demonstrate transparency. Documents such as the organization’s form 990 and audited financial statement should be readily available for donors to review.”
Good advice. It is essential for a donor to understand how the organization will use his or her funds.
While I’m not an expert on charities by any means, getting answers to some big-picture questions will certainly help identify whether you believe in the organization’s mission and how it intends to execute it with the help of your donation.
Before leaving the discussion of resources, let me give you one more: the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA), found at www. give.org.
BBB WGA reports on 1,300 national charities. About half of the 112 Better Business Bureaus in the U.S. and Canada also report on about 10,000 local charities.
Give.org lists 20 standards in these categories: governance and oversight, measuring effectiveness, finances, and solicitations and informational materials.
Then the site concludes: “Meets Standards,” “Standards Not Met,” “Did Not Disclose,” “Unable to Verify” or “Review in Progress.”
An example is the American Red Cross, earning a “Meets Standards” on all 20 elements. The site also lists four “Complaints processed by the BBB in the last 36 months,” each of which is categorized by type and shown as “addressed.”
Finally, let me add a comment from a physician who chaired major gifts for almost three decades for a Connecticut hospital:
“Ask yourself if you are diluting your efforts by donating to multiple charities. Could you accomplish more by focusing on just a few?”
If you believe the latter is a better option, research of the type we’ve been discussing over the past two weeks will help you concentrate on causes you can support with confidence and passion.
A worthwhile consideration indeed.
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Julie Jason, JD, LLM, a personal money manager (Jackson, Grant of Stamford, Conn.) and award-winning author, welcomes your questions/comments ([email protected]). To hear Julie speak, visit www.juliejason.com/events.
(c) 2017 Julie Jason.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.