Many of us are instilled with the feeling of wanting to make a difference. We want to be change agents and bring about positivity through our giving. One of the most common ways we give is in the form of financial support or assistance.
Consider these five things the next time you give – regardless of the amount you give. It is important that donors do the right due diligence steps to ensure that your hard earned money goes to the right place and that it helps support the cause you feel deeply about.
Your support goes a long way and you need to feel confident about your giving. This list is applicable for those who are currently donating, have donated in the past or thinking about donating in the future.
Oftentimes people would just donate simply because they were asked to — not thoroughly thinking about where that money would go to or what the issue is really about. According to Charity Navigator — a nonprofit evaluator, a person should first identify a cause that matters to them before they donate. Start identifying what issues you feel strongly about, what tugs at your heartstrings and what issues keep popping up in your conversations.
When you feel for the issues you care about, it is easier for you to part with your money and your giving will be more long-term instead of one-off. Proactive giving will also reduce the chances of you being scammed or cheated – something that unfortunately happens in the philanthropic world.
Once you’ve identified the issues you care about, start listing down organisations that are doing great work in the particular field. Take time to search and read the organisation’s website, read their annual reports, impact reports and look for articles where these organisations have been featured. In short, have a sense of their track record.
Where financial reports are available, look for responsible channeling of funds to the most pressing issues or projects. These figures would be able to paint a picture as to what was done in the past and what the organisation is working towards now.
Transparency, accountability and credibility are values of trusted organisations that do good. Examples of organisations that uphold these best practices include:
Take it a step further by initiating a conversation. If you’re planning on donating large sums of money, be intentional about getting to know the people running the organisation. Suggest a chat with co-founders or CEO and simply start a conversation that will help you, as a donor, understand the issue at large and how your contributions can significantly make a difference.
Ask about impacts, key challenges, lessons learnt and be ready to learn. Organisations unwilling or unable to have a conversation may not deserve your support.
Trusted charities and credible organisations will never accept transactions over the phone. Organisations that contact you, asking for donations are rarely the real deal and are looking to take a large chunk of your donation for personal gain. In short, it’s likely it may be a scam.
Contact information for trusted organisations will be readily available on their respective websites and you should never find it difficult to contact credible organisations. Eventually when you do donate to an organisation, insist on a receipt for record and tax exemption purposes, where applicable.
Social organisations appreciate partners that believe in their vision and are willing to partner with them for the long haul (eg. bi-annually, annually, or even for years). Once you’ve found an organisation that you trust, you want to grow with them and see the impacts of your giving.
A good way to start would be to touch base with the organisation that you have donated to after six months of giving. Have a friendly chat with them on where they are and where else they require support. Instead of an itemised expense list, you are initiating a progressive donor relationship where you are looking to strengthen the relationship in the area of understanding, trust and credibility.
Over time, charitable organisations and those with a social mission are looking for long term partners, advocates that care deeply about the same cause and ambassadors that speak on their behalf. Your intentions of giving is a great start and it can potentially grow in other areas of impact.
Go forth and start giving!