Here are GuideStar.com‘s tips for donors 10 Steps to Giving Wisely and Researching Charities
- Clarify your values.
- Do this before you open your checkbook, volunteer your time, or look at that letter from a charity.
- 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?
- Ask yourself if you want to support a large or small charity, a new or an old one.
- 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.
- Eliminate organizations that don’t meet your criteria.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.