In this trying time, most people are thinking of ways to help. What can we do? How can we contribute to a solution and not be a part of the problem? Commonly, we open our hearts and wallets to do good for others. Today donation/charity-based crowdfunding is easy; the process of supporting your favorite cause is a simple as a few clicks of the finger, but before you click donate, check out the nonprofit’s efforts and impacts.
Both Guidestar https://www.guidestar.org/Home.aspx and Charity Navigator https://www.charitynavigator.org/ provide information about how well an organization is well managed. Both of these organizations report a fair and accurate picture of overhead costs, transparency, and executive pay. They’re neutral when it comes to presenting accurate information about how well the administrative side of the organization performs.
Who’s Minding the Store?
But who’s minding the store when it comes to carrying out the mission of the organization? Is our favorite nonprofit actually doing what they claim to do? What amount of good is achieved per hours spent? After all, impact is the impetus for why we donate.
ImpactMatters https://www.impactmatters.org/local-giving-guides/ provides answers to these three questions: What changes as a result of their work have proved meaningful? What would have happened without the organization’s efforts? How do the outcomes compare to the costs? Their analyses reveal some of the most effective and impactful nonprofits directly delivering services for homelessness, health, clean water, veterans, poverty, hunger, climate change and education.
What to consider when choosing nonprofit organizations
What if a charity delivers services not included in the aforementioned list or what if they are too small to be studied? How can you check out a nonprofit on your own? GuideStar suggests asking the following questions:
- How are you collaborating with similar organizations on a local, regional, or national level?
- What are the main obstacles that inhibit the fulfillment of your mission? How are you planning to overcome them?
- What are your annual goals, needs, and results? How do they compare to similar organizations in your community?
- How much turnover have you experienced of employees and board members in the last two years?
- To what degree have you attracted new people and new ideas to your organization and board?
- How well have you utilized your funding? Describe how efficiently you have fulfilled your goals of recent years in relationship to the amount of funds you have raised.
- Most for-profit organizations have recently restructured themselves in recent years to become more efficient and productive. How, if at all, are you considering (or have you implemented) some version of this approach?
- How efficiently is your organization run? To what degree have you assigned day-to-day management responsibilities to a tightly run executive committee instead of relying upon your full board?
Supporting a worthy cause or effort is always a good thing. In addition to the personal benefit of the positivity that comes with sharing, your gift helps further a mission you care about. For peace of mind and also to optimize your contribution, take care to do your homework in order for your gift to have the most impact.