Each Friday, the another jennifer blog shares stories of those who incorporate philanthropy into their everyday lives – personally and professionally – in a creative and unique way. If you have a story you’d like to share, please email Jennifer.
We’re getting down to the wire now for holiday gifts. I have some shopping to do for Christmas, but I’m still managing to stay calm and organized.
At the same time we are out looking for last minute gifts, many of us are also receiving donation appeal letters and emails from nonprofits. As I write and receive these letters, I realize that I really should stop waiting until the end of the year to make my donations. Sure, I’ve made a few throughout the year. But I could do better. We all could, I’m sure.
So, what holds us back? Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out where to donate your money. And I think many people think that a small donation won’t do any good.
The fact is that anything you donate is a gift that will be appreciated. The Good 30-Day Challenge: Creative Microphilanthropy is a good example of how people can make a big impact with a small amount of money.
Giving to nonprofits in honor of the hard to shop for person that’s left on your Christmas list just might make someone’s day. So, today, I’ve rehashed some some tips I published last year on how to choose a nonprofit to donate to:
- Think about the organizations you already interact with. Have you adopted a pet at the local shelter? Do you listen to public radio? Do you currently receive services from a nonprofit? Start with what (and who) you know. If you already have a relationship with a nonprofit, thank them by taking the extra step to make a donation.
- Google nonprofit organizations in your town. This is the most obvious place to start if you’re unsure of what’s in your neighborhood. I bet you’ll be surprised at how many you find.
- Once you find an organization (or more), visit the charity’s website and check out their mission, programs and services. Everything a nonprofit does should relate directly to its mission. If you don’t believe in the mission, keep searching.
- Use websites like GuideStar and Charity Navigator to gauge how your money will be used. With a 501(c)(3) status, an organization has to be incredibly transparent. You can view a charity’s 990 for free on the GuideStar website and read reviews of organizations. Charity Navigator rates nonprofits with specific methodology. Both websites have a ton of information to help you give smartly.
- When in doubt, call or email. Nonprofits love talking about the work that they do. You want to know how they’ll use the money you give to them. Asking questions helps you make an informed decision. (Seriously, I used love it when people would call and ask me questions when I worked for a nonprofit.) Talking with staff helps people connect more deeply to the organization. Sometimes you really can’t get a feel for what the org does in your community until you talk to a dedicated staff member.
Happy Holiday Giving!