What Makes Your Charity Worthy of Support?
I walked outside today and went to my mailbox - it is November, and Christmas is right around the corner, so I received several appeals for funds. I know more are coming, as we have entered the most crucial time of the year for charities. What immediately crossed my mind is that thousands of potential donors will soon decide whether to support nonprofits. They will also determine whether your charity is worthy of their support. There are thousands of nonprofits just in my State of Indiana, for example, so potential donors have a wide variety of choices when making the decision about where to give their support.
According to USA.gov, individuals may donate money or property to a charity. The government encourages prospective donors to research charities and make sure they have a 501 © 3 status. Donors can make gifts by cash, credit cards, individual property, vehicles, art, jewelry, stocks, and real estate, just to name a few. They can even take a deduction on their taxes for donations, but need to review IRS rules regarding how much of a deduction they can receive.
How is Your Charity Being Evaluated?
The Charities Aid Foundation notes that donating to causes you care about not only benefits charities, but it benefits you. Millions of people give because it is personally gratifying to them. Giving to charity makes you feel good and is a wonderful mood booster. It strengthens personal values, and provides a feeling of social conscience. Giving also encourages friends and family to follow your lead and are effective.
If you want to give in an informed way, review the following steps by Charity Navigator. Be initiative-taking in your giving by donating to causes of importance to you. Do thorough research on the finances, and make sure they are accountable and transparent. Talk to the charity that interests you and seek their goals, objectives, and strategic plan. Create a personal budget for your charitable donations and determine if you want to make an unrestricted or restricted gift. Several months after you make your donation, see how the organization spent your money. Did they spend it wisely or foolishly?
A Time article on charitable giving provided insights on how prospects can evaluate the over 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the United States for giving purposes. The article suggested each donor write their philanthropic autobiography that reflects their passion, values, and interest for specific causes. Give to the moment, not in the moment, by reflecting on important donation decisions. Vet the charities for which you are interested in by going to guidestar.org, charitynavigator.org, charitywatch.org and givewell.org. Think beyond dollars by volunteering for a cause and utilizing volunteermatch.org to match your skills with the skills needed by a nonprofit of interest.
In this season of giving, Consumer Reports provides important tips to review with respect to charitable contributing. Vetting charities is especially important because, according to the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact, 17 percent of contributions were made during the month of December of 2018, as an example. If a charity is accredited by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, charities must meet twenty standards, including adequate board oversight and strong conflict of interest policies.
They must meet the requirement that they spend at least 65% of their total expenses on charitable programs, and no more than 35% of their total contributions on fundraising. CharityWatch uses a letter-grade system and evaluates overhead, cost of fundraising, and other measures of efficiency. Charity Navigator focuses on financial metrics, accountability, and transparency. Other rating groups for charities include GiveWell, GlobalGiving, and ImpactMatters. Other charitable tips include verify tax-exempt status, give directly to the charity, watch for fees, request privacy, be on guard for soundalikes and consider donating to charity watchdogs as they are also charities.
A Vodo Gram blog on where your money goes pointed out that charities with the most efficient use of donations encompass children’s charities, humanitarian charities, and healthcare charities. The blog suggests you make a few large gifts instead of many small ones. They encourage all potential donors to think before giving, and use your head before your heart when making a gift.
Giving of assets is an important act. There must be a deep element of trust in the people that run nonprofit organizations. The reputation of the nonprofit must be sparkling clean and worthy of support. Having worked and consulting with a number of charities, I realize the importance of having complete ethics, honesty, and transparency in all dealings. We have a tremendous obligation to uphold. Make your charity completely worthy of donor support. If it is worthy, donor transactions will eventually turn into transformational, lifelong relationships.
Duke Haddad, Ed.D., CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of Duke Haddad and Associates LLC and is a freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO since 2008.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration plus a dissertation on donor characteristics. He received a master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis on public administration plus a thesis on annual fund analysis. He secured a bachelor’s degree (cum laude) with an emphasis on marketing/management. He has done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
Duke has received the Fundraising Executive of the Year Award, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter. He also was given the Outstanding West Virginian Award, Kentucky Colonel Award and Sagamore of the Wabash Award from the governors of West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, respectively, for his many career contributions in the field of philanthropy. He has maintained a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation for three decades.