Have a Purpose
The most effective charitable giving is thoughtful and intentional. It may be helpful for you and your spouse to ask yourselves some questions that will narrow your focus, such as:
- Do we want to give to a national or local cause?
- Are there pressing issues in our community that we feel we can help impact?
- Do we have any personal connections to causes, such as medical research or support for the arts?
- Do we want to support friends or family by contributing to causes that impact their lives or fulfill their passions?
- Do we want to support a religious organization such as
- our church?
- Are our charitable impulses motivated by ongoing problems such as education or homelessness, or would we rather position ourselves to react to events such as natural disasters?
Do Your Homework
Once you’ve settled on a cause, do some research on potential recipients. Visit the local nonprofit you’d like to support and meet with its leadership team. Is the organization running itself respon-sibly? Are there good, competent people in charge? Will these people get the job done? Don’t sink your money into a well-inten-tioned black hole.
If you’re looking to give to a national organization, keep in mind that even some of the biggest names have come under fire lately from watchdog groups for misusing donations. Make sure you’re giving to an organization that’s doing what it promises to do with your money.
All not-for-profit organizations must be registered with the IRS and many will have their tax form, called a 990, available for review. You can also review organization profiles on Charity Navigator and Guidestar for more information.
And if you know anyone else who has been supporting an organi-zation you’re researching, take the time to speak with them about their experience.