Charitable giving is frequently mingled with more emotion than information. In fact we often seek just enough information to validate our emotions and then we give—hoping our contribution will be wisely used.
“It’s good to have an emotional tie to the organizations and causes we support,” said Robbie Nicol, MBA, CFRE, Executive Director of the Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC) Foundation. “However, your financial support should be thoughtfully considered and thoroughly researched. You’ve worked hard to provide for yourself and family and are fortunate to have the means to help others. You want your donation to make a difference.”
To ensure your donation will matter, view yourself as an investor. Savvy investors do their homework and invest only when they are confident they understand the potential return on their investment. Savvy donors give with the same knowledge and confidence. The following are questions to ask when you are considering a charitable donation. These will help you make a sound decision about what are highly emotional and very important choices.
Can the charity communicate who they are and what they do?
Organizations that can explain who they are and what they are striving to accomplish, are united in their purpose and focused on making a difference. For example, YRMC’s Partners for Healthy Students is dedicated to providing healthcare services to children and their families in rural Yavapai County communities.
If a charity struggles to articulate its mission and its programs, it will probably struggle to deliver those programs. The stakes are too high and there are too many organizations that know exactly who they are, what they do, and why they are needed. Make sure the organization you want to support is one of them.
Do the charity’s programs make sense to you?
If you support the mission of an organization, ask yourself if its programs also make sense to you. You believe in the cause, and you hope for the end result, but is the organization working toward that result in a way that seems logical to you?
Can your charity demonstrate the progress it has made (or is making) toward its goal?
Good intentions are not enough to warrant your charitable support. Ask the leaders of your organization for examples of how they’re making a difference. Good organizations relish the opportunity to share results.
Can you trust your charity?
The overwhelming majority of charities in this country are responsible, honest and well-managed. To ensure the organization you want to support is worthy of your trust, you can:
- Request an annual report
- Speak with staff members
- Ask other donors about their experience
One source that can help you make an informed decision about the charitable organizations you support is Charity Navigator*. In addition to providing information on thousands of not-for-profit organizations, you’ll find a series of articles with helpful tips for donors, such as: Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors and Tips for Older Donors.
*Please note there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. The YRMC Foundation and YRMC have not yet been reviewed by Charity Navigator.