The holidays are a big time for philanthropy filled with all the warmth and goodwill of the season. It’s the time of year when Americans are most likely to give. It’s also a time when people make their last donations of the year. Sometimes, these can be quite large. People have to get donations in by December 31st if they want it to count towards the current tax year.
The boost in giving that comes during the holidays is a beautiful thing. But problems can arise when people don’t look into the organizations they’re giving to. Somewhat shockingly, only about a third of Americans research charities before donating to them. People must act like discerning shoppers when it comes to philanthropy. By asking the right questions and researching charities, donors can give to the places that do the most good. Every donated dollar is leverage that can be used to drive efficiency and engagement at charities.
There are some excellent guidelines to follow when looking at charities this holiday season. The first is to give locally. Local charities may be able to meet face-to-face and provide a tour of their facilities and explanations of their services. Additionally, local charities will support the donor’s actual community. Being able to see the good that’s being done with a donation is a great benefit to giving locally.
No matter where the charity is, or how big it is, it will have a rating online. Organizations like Charity Navigator rate charities and break down where each cent of a donated dollar goes. Others specialize in a type of charity organization. For example, GiveWell tracks charities that attack poverty and healthcare issues. They study charities that operate around the world and only recommend the very best ones. Being discerning is also essential when it comes to social media appeals. Don’t just click and give. It’s okay to sleep on a friend’s giving campaign before donating.
Finally, consider donations from earlier in the year, especially for areas hit by natural disasters. The rebuilding phase of disaster recovery can be more expensive than the evacuation phase. Follow up on organizations that helped out with Hurricane Dorian or the Dallas Tornado. Those charities likely still need money.