10 Steps to Donating Wisely

Here are GuideStar.com‘s tips for donors 10 Steps to Giving Wisely and Researching Charities

  1. Clarify your values.
    • Do this before you open your checkbook, volunteer your time, or look at that letter from a charity.
  2. Identify your preferences.
    • Ask yourself: “What is important to me?” The environment? Education? Hunger? Animal welfare? Helping sick children?
    • Where should the charity do its work—in your neighborhood, region, the nation, or internationally?
  3. Ask yourself if you want to support a large or small charity, a new or an old one.
  4. Focus on the mission.
    • Look at each charity’s description on its Web site, or in its literature.
    • Find the nonprofits that fit best with your values.
  5. Eliminate organizations that don’t meet your criteria.

Evaluating Charities

  1. Get the cold, hard facts. A reputable organization will:
    • Define its mission and programs clearly.
    • Have measurable goals.
    • Use concrete criteria to describe its achievements.
  2. Verify a charity’s legitimacy.
    • If you find a charity on GuideStar (www.guidestar.org), you know it’s legitimate—all nonprofits listed are registered with the IRS
    • If the charity is not on GuideStar, ask to see its letter of determination.
    • If the organization is faith based, ask to see its official listing in a directory for its denomination.
  3. Compare this Charity to similar organizations, compare apples to apples
    Be sure to compare charities that do the same work, especially for their finances. The type of work a charity does can affect its operating costs dramatically.
  4. Avoid charities that won’t share information or pressure you. Reputable nonprofits
    • Will discuss their programs and finances.
    • Don’t use pressure tactics.
    • Send you literature about their work or direct you to a Web site.
    • Will take “no” for an answer.
  5. Trust your instincts.
    If you still have doubts about a charity, don’t contribute to it. Instead, find another nonprofit that does the same kind of work and with which you feel comfortable, then make your donation.

I normally don’t take directly from another source, but I found these to be helpful.

I believe that all of us like to view ourselves as philanthropists, and I think we all are, if we choose to be.

Although I don’t make a lot of money, I find value in donating to charity, and the decisions of who I choose to give to are never that easy.



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