The ability to give to great nonprofit organizations is a big reason why I’m frugal. Charitable donations can make a tremendous difference in the lives of individuals and for communities. Giving is important, but it’s also important to make sure that your donations are made wisely. A lot of our motivations for giving are emotional, but putting some thought into our donations can make our money go much farther.
Make a Plan
I work in fundraising, so I think about it way more often than the average person. Many people don’t put a lot into giving money until a major disaster comes along or a friend is raising money for a charity race or mission trip. You don’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist, but incorporating giving into your budget can help you make intentional gifts that make an impact.
Do Some Research
There are several great online resources that can help you understand how a charity spends its money. GuideStar and Charity Navigator provide information about nonprofits that help donors make informed decisions. You should first make sure that the organization is legitimate, and then do some deeper digging to see if you agree with how an organization handles its money.
Volunteer Before Donating
One of the best ways to understand an organization is to volunteer for it. Volunteering often gives you a chance to see, firsthand, how a nonprofit is achieving its mission.
Don’t Give Over the Phone
A big lesson I learned in my first nonprofit management class was to be wary of telephone solicitors. A telemarketer is often taking a big part of your donation. Our professor advised us to always ask “Are you a paid solicitor?” if someone asked for a donation over the phone.
Write a Check
Giving online is easy, but more of your money goes directly to charity when you write a check. Nonprofits often have to pay credit card processing fees for your online gift.
Consider Your Privacy
Are you giving to charity this year? Let me know your favorite organizations to support in the comments.