Helping a charity can be a gratifying means of giving back to the community or assisting someone in need. With many charities to choose from that support different people and various conditions, finding the right charity can be a daunting task at first. As a donor, you have to look for reputable organizations to ensure that your assistance benefits a cause you care about.
Here are four basic steps from experts in charitable giving and philanthropy that will guide you towards making a meaningful contribution:
1. Understand Your Values
Begin by listing down social issues you care about and believe the most. Do you want to help end child malnutrition? Or want to help end animal cruelty? Is there a specific medical condition that you think will benefit from in-depth research? Or are there a group of people in other parts of the world that you would like to help? Start asking yourself these questions, then list your most valued social problems and narrow them further to the one closest to your heart. Likewise, try finding charities that align with your mission and goals.
2. Support a Local Non-Profit Organization
Choosing whether you want an impact locally or globally is a tough decision. Many donors wish to make a difference in their location, while others want to achieve a global result. But many people like to help a local non-profit because they feel that a smaller organization would more appreciate their donations.
3. Interview and Vet Them
Before officially launching your charitable cause, make sure that the organization you plan to help will use your donation wisely. Some groups research the financial status and commitment to accountability and transparency of different charity groups. Websites such as guidestar.org, charitywatch.org, and charitynavigator.org are recommended to conduct your research. These groups do the legwork of examining charities’ tax filings and governance documents, making the search a lot easier for you.
Aside from websites, you can also contact trusted institutions for guidance. Experts say it can be helpful to see what charities your alma mater, house of worship, or company supports. The philanthropic work of these institutions is likely to have been implemented after rigorous vetting. Usually, your value is aligned to the organization where you are affiliated.
Once you’ve done your extensive research on finding the right charity, choose the way you want to help.
Donate Your Money
A monetary donation is the most common practice for donating to charity. Non-profit organizations use your donation to help the people they support and finance the institution’s day-to-day operation.
Donate Your Time
Most charities need volunteers as much as they need financial support. So, if you have any specialized skills or are simply willing to lend an extra hand, your donated time could be advantageous to the charity.
Donate Your Skills
If you have a special skill in cooking, writing, event organizing, and photography, consider offering your services for free. Many nonprofits and advocacy groups have specific needs but can’t afford to hire dedicated staff.
Donate Your Blood or Organs
Blood and organ donors are always needed. Donating blood can save lives but won’t cost you much. The Red Cross and other civic groups often have blood donation drives in cities near you. Check out RedCross.org for the location of current blood donation activities.
On the other hand, donating an organ would require a significantly larger sacrifice, but you may feel highly rewarded by doing it.