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Make Your Donation Count When it’s Needed Most



Giving to charity is something most people feel good about doing. In fact, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, 88% of American households give $2,213 or a median of $870. That equates to almost 3 billion dollars a year. However, when you are choosing a charity, don’t be swayed by your emotions. Even if you are donating a small amount, you want your money to do the most good – that is the majority of it reaching the intended recipients. So before you reach for your wallet here are some things you might want to consider when choosing that perfect charity.

  • Think about what matters to you. One of the easiest ways to choose a charity is to listen to your heart. Pick something you are passionate about – the environment, hunger, animal welfare, health issues, etc. Then, think about where you would like to make an impact. Many charities focus their attention in the international arena, however, you might feel more comfortable making an impact closer to home.  
  • Validate the charities legitimacy. Be cautious of individuals that are raising money to help with the expenses for their disease or take advantage of a recent disaster. The story of suffering might pull on your heart strings, but keep in mind real charities help more than one person. In addition, national disasters are notorious for “bogus” charities being created and solicited for. A good protocol would be to verify that the charity you are interested in donating to is registered with the IRS. That will not only ensure that the organization is legit, you will know that you will be able to take that deduction on your taxes. 
  • Do your research. Look for clear descriptions of a charity’s mission, programs, goals and achievements. You can go to to get this information on all charities that are registered with the IRS. If you compare charities, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. For example, charities that do the same kind of work would have similar operating costs. Be wary of a charity that is not transparent with their programs and finances or use pressure tactics to solicit your donation. 
  • Verify administrative costs. This is probably the biggest issue when deciding on which charity to support. You want to make sure the money you are giving is going to promote the mission of the organization and not the majority of the administrative costs. Charities must disclose how their money is spent. According to CharityWatch, a charity watchdog organization, a nonprofit should spend no more than 40% of its budget on administrative costs but a highly efficient organization will spend no more than 25%.  
  • Consider other ways to give back. There are other ways to give back to your community other than monetarily.  Many groups organize toy, clothing and food drives for social service organizations. You can also give the gift of your time. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 64.5 million adults volunteered over 15 billion hours of service. So if you think you can’t make a difference because you don’t have extra income, again examine your passions and find alternative ways to support your cause.

Giving is a wonderful experience, from the giver to the receiver of those gifts. So don’t worry if your contribution is too small, every little bit adds up to make a larger sum.   

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