It’s Giving Tuesday and I am reflecting on which non-profits I might support this year. As someone who has worked in the not-for-profit sector for a long time, I am aware of all the good work that they do and the efforts they make to bring in the money necessary to operate their programs and services. Like most people, I don’t have hours to research each charity’s outcomes and weigh them against their costs. So these are some quick rules of thumb I have developed:
- Make sure the charity is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency if it is Canadian. If it is an international agency, do a little Internet research into its status and reputation.
- Don’t always give to the biggest or most well-known charities. Lots of small charities do excellent work with very few resources.
- Consider supporting causes that don’t attract as many donors. I know lots of people give to children’s charities so I support causes that may not appeal to as many donors, such as programs for female prisoners.
- Don’t be swayed by charities that advertise low percentages of administrative costs. Administrative costs are necessary: good administration can improve a charity’s effectiveness. Also, there are many ways to “frame” expenses to make administration appear artificially low. Focus instead on the outcomes the charity is reporting.
- Be a repeat donor, if you are pleased with how they handled your past donation. That way you get to know more about the charity over time and can build trust in their work.
That said, don’t make your process so complicated that you are paralyzed by indecision. If, like me, you feel lucky to have what you have, share with others and feel good about it!