Making your charitable donation work harder
With the right approach, your gift can do more for the causes you support
As the year winds down, many people are taking a look at where their charitable giving stands. They may want to make a difference during the holidays, to be sure that their favorite charity receives their support, or to simply take advantage of tax incentives during the current fiscal year.
Whatever the reason behind their donation, they probably want their donation to go as far as they can for the benefit of the nonprofit that they’re supporting. As it turns out, there are some tricks that donors can do to help their money go further. We’ve got the details.
Screen your charity before you donate
Sadly, there are more than a few organizations that are either not legitimate entities or they’re not competent to fulfill their missions. In either case, any money that you donate to them isn’t likely to do the kind of good you’re hoping it will. That’s a shame but, fortunately, it is avoidable if you can take some easy steps before you finalize your gift.
Screening any charity that you’re hoping to donate to doesn’t have to take a lot of time but it ensures that your money is going to be able to make a difference.
Checking out any charity that you hope to donate to isn’t as complicated as it sounds and doesn’t have to take a long time. Start by reviewing the organization’s website. Notice if they appear to be properly staffed, if the site has proof of the results of the organization’s work, and if the organization appears to have a working board of directors. Those are all things that can tell you about both their credibility and their ability to fulfill their mission.
In addition, there are a number of websites, like charitywatch.org that can help you with the screening process. Some charities also register with the Better Business Bureau or with other locally connected organizations that can vouch for their work.
Take advantage of any programs that match your donations
There are a number of ways that your donation can be matched and therefore, go further. One possible option: many companies offer a charity matching program as one of their employee benefits. This kind of program motivates employers to participate in their community while encouraging employees to do service at the same time.
A second structure for donation matches comes in the form of a nonprofit’s matching donor program. This typically takes place when a larger donor sets aside a pool of funds to be distributed only as a match to smaller contributions from other supporters. Sometimes this match is designated to happen only during a given timeframe or for a specific use. It is worth asking an organization if matching programs exist and, if so, how they are structured.
Let others know you’ve donated and challenge them to join you
Once you’ve decided to make your contribution, consider letting others know about what you did. For some people, this is a sensitive decision and they want their charitable activity to remain private. However, if you choose to share what you did, its possible to use your act to inspire others, including posting it on social media with a link to the organization’s donation portal.
In some cases, it also may be possible to take this effort a step further. There also may be donation-focused web pages that do the same thing and are based on a specific giving focus. Examples of focus areas include giving Tuesday programs that take place just after Thanksgiving or timed organization-based drives for larger nonprofits.
A deeper dive – Related reading from the 101:
- What happens to political donations? | Finance 101
If the candidate you support drops out of the race, what happens to the money they raised?
- Get to know billionaire philanthropist Robert Smith | Finance 101
Learn more about one of the leaders in charitable giving.