'Tis the season! The season of giving. The season when nonprofits have flooded your inbox with witty catch phrases and moving stories of their impact in the community in an effort to capture your year end donations. Giving Tuesday was an effort that began in 2012 to take the focus off the commercialization of the holiday season and shift it back to one of generosity and helping those in need.
But how do you decide who to give to? There will be a lot of conversations on social media, just like the one pictured below, about making you sure you do your research on a charity that you are going to donate to. The message you hear this time of year is to only make donations to organizations who will use your donation for direct programming. Let me tell you why I think there needs to be more to it!
First off, I couldn't agree more about the importance of research. There are a variety of resources that can be used to find out about more about a charity. You can use Guidestar or Charity Navigator or even check with your local Attorney Generals office.
The challenge I have for you is to take it one step further. Look beyond the numbers and ratings on these sites. Look to the leadership of the organization. Do they have an active Board of Directors? Have they shared their strategic plan on their web site? How many staff does the organization employ? Do they utilize volunteers? Do they provide easy access to their programming? Sites like the Charities Review Council are a great resource to see if some of these are in place for organizations who meet standards or are working towards this certification.
As nonprofits strive to find solutions to community needs, they may continue to modify or adapt programming when needed. Maybe they an innovation leader in their field? Talk to neighbors or those who utilize these resources to find out what is the true impact their services are having in your community. Do they have a positive reputation in the community and on social media?
And then there's the money part. I work with nonprofits to better understand how to use their financial statements to tell the story of their organization in a more effective and transparent manner. We evaluate infrastructure to ensure not only that it is solid but that it is also efficient. Overhead is necessity!
So, as you look to make those year end donations, please take a minute to look beyond the basics.