The recent recession has put a damper on charitable giving in many cases. Some charities have been reporting that donations have been down since the recession began, even with the tax deduction that can come with giving. However, even in good economic times, it seems as though there are always new charities vying for our attention — and our dollars. Many of us want to give, but we can’t give to every charity that comes along. How do you know who deserves your charity?
Consider Your Passions
Instead of simply giving to everyone who asks, or turning down everyone who asks, you can consider your passions. Think about what is important to you, and what causes you would like to support. Some people know those affected by cancer, and so donate to charities related to the disease.
I think that education is important, so I donate to an education fund set up by my church. This fund offers low interest loans to those who cannot afford an education. The repaid money goes back into the fund to be used again. I also donate to my church’s humanitarian fund, which sends food, clothing and other aid to catastrophe stricken countries, as well as providing regular hygiene kits to those who need them around the world.
While I like to donate to these global causes, I also think it is important to help out in your own community. If you are concerned about needs in your community, you can look to local charities and churches. Our biggest donations (outside church) go to the local food bank. We donate money, as well as food. We enjoy seeing that our donations do good in the community, helping people that live right here. We have also donated clothing, toys and hygiene items to the local women’s shelter.
Look around. Does your community have a soup kitchen? A homeless shelter? A children’s home? Think about what you can do in your community to make a difference, and think about your passions. Get direction from a church leader or community leader about where needs are, and help. You don’t even have to donate money when you work locally. The donation of your time can be just as valuable.
In some cases, figuring out who to donate to can be tough because you want to be sure the money is going mostly to the cause. When you donate locally, you can see how your donations make a difference. With national charities, though, it can be harder to see those donations at work. One way you can determine whether a charity is providing a valuable service is by making use of CharityNavigator.org. This is a site that helps you search charities and find their efficiency rating.
Charity Navigator looks at how much is spent on the program, as well as how much is spent on fund raising and overhead. You can figure out how much of your donation is actually going to a cause. I actually stopped donating to a charity after finding how much was going to fund raising — and how much was going to CEO salary. I figured that my money could be better used by boosting donations to the local food bank, and to my church’s humanitarian fund.
How do you decide who gets your charitable donations?
This post was featured in Carnival of Wealth.