The Nitty Gritty of Nonprofit Donations:
Updated: Mar 14
How to Decide Where Your Money Should Go
Whether through corporate or individual donors, nonprofit organizations receive more financial support than ever. This can be a great thing for our communities and society, but knowing where our money is going is also critical.
Particularly in periods of inflation where every extra dollar counts, it may be helpful to prioritize your goals as a donor rather than respond to donation requests as they come to you. Consider the causes that matter to you and how you'd prefer to allocate your funds (and time) to support organizations that align with your values. Here are a few tips to help.
Identify the Causes That Matter Most
One of the easiest ways to start narrowing down the charities you'd like to support is to consider the subject areas that matter most to you. This could involve anything from children's welfare to disease research to animal or environmental conservation.
Not only does this step help you plan, but it also helps you learn ways to contribute to positive change that you might not have previously considered.
Local vs. Largescale Initiatives
Once you've thought about the types of projects you find most critical, it's time to think about the level of organizations you want to help. Let's say, for instance, that you wish to support autism research and awareness.
If you choose to donate at a local level, this could mean providing financial support to a grassroots organization that is directly serving autistic individuals in your community.
Suppose you donate to a state, national, or global autism support organization. In that case, your donation is pooled with countless others to hopefully make more significant strides in research, advocacy, or policy.
Bells and Whistles Aren't Everything
Just because a nonprofit can spend more on advertising and branding doesn't necessarily make it a "better" charity. Dig into reviewing the mission and financial habits of the organizations you're interested in supporting to ensure they're spending more on their mission than on executive salaries and brand beautification.
Don't Get Scammed
Regardless of the type and level of charity you decide to support, one of the essential steps is ensuring you're supporting a legitimate organization. To avoid donation scams, here are some things you can do to protect yourself as you research:
Go beyond the charity organization's website and conduct an online search using the charity's name plus other keywords like "reviews," "scam," or "ratings." You can also use sites like Charity Navigator or Charity Watch to vet nonprofit organizations.
Do a Tax Exempt Organization search. Nonprofits properly registered with the IRS as tax-exempt organizations will be listed here.
And keep in mind that the safest donation methods are a check or a credit card. Avoid the use of wire transfers or gift cards to make donations.