In the last weWednesday, we focused on reasons not to start a charity and shared less time-consuming alternatives to meet your giving objectives, one of which was to donate to a charity. If you choose to donate there are many answers you will want to have before making your decision.
By nature, charities want you to get excited about them. They will share their mission, values, beliefs, and their unique approach. Charities will highlight news coverage, celebrity ambassadors, and their social media outreach. You will become educated why their niche is important, and why it needs money now.
Utilizing a high successful tactic, they will appeal and pull at your emotional heartstrings by sharing a story of how they help little Samuel, Fortuna or Jacob. They will bring you into the narrative, and attempt to move you to tears. They will round out with how you can support them, why you should, and where your funds will go. All with one goal, to demonstrate how great they are, and they just may be. But how do you really know?
What do you need to know before you donate to a charity?
Clarifying the who, how, and why is all necessary information to decide if you want to donate to a charity. However, before committing to a short or long-term financial donor arrangement, you may want to inquire and request for detailed information and facts. But where do you get this information from?
Charity evaluation tools to help assess if you should donate to a charity
Fortunately, there are charity evaluation tools available to assess financial health, transparency, and accountability. Depending on where the charity is registered, will dictate which tool or resource to utilize.
If the charity is registered in the United States, use the Charity Navigator website.
If registered in Canada, use the Charity Intelligence Canada website.
The Charity Navigator rates 9,068 charities. Charity Intelligence Canada (Ci) has profiles on 700 charities.
Both focus on the charity’s transparency, accountability, need for funding, cost efficiency and good governance. Financial information is primarily collected from the charity’s audited financial statements. Although the ratings are helpful, they don’t offer a complete picture on whether or not to donate to a charity.
The 0-4-star score does not assess the strength of the charity’s strategy, the quality of its activities, nor the level social impact. It provides enough information that a prospective donor is equipped to make their assessment.
Both tools are in the process of creating a measurement for the charities impact. In Canada, it is worth the $20 investment to get the goods about your charity of choice. Charity Navigator takes contributions from people using the technology, however, not from charities they evaluate, to ensure that they are and perceived to be objective.
Evaluating whether to donate to a charity not currently rated
If a charity is not yet rated, the following this link will provide you with the insight of what you should look for before you donate.
Questions to ask before you decide to donate to a charity
The next step is to speak to the charity. A conversation can provide a lot more insight than just researching the website. Besides, you may receive a better idea of the charity’s objectives, but also its culture, and how they will treat you as a donor.
Below are some questions to help give some direction if you should donate to a charity.
- What is the organization’s mission?
If they hesitate here, it may be a cue that they are not clear, and therefore will have a challenge executing on initiatives. They should be able to communicate who they are, what they do, and why they are needed.
- What are the short and long-term goals of the organization?
Are they clear? Without clear goals, it is difficult to measure their impact.
- How do you measure your progress?
This can be a challenge for many charities, and yet it is essential for donor confidence. Ask what metrics are being measured, and how they go about assessing it.
- What progress is your organization making toward those goals? Context is everything.
How long has the charity been pursuing the goals?
Has there been a success, and what does it look like?
The more specific they are, the more they have a pulse on how they are improving the situation.
- What sources are available to increase my confidence in your work?
Charities should have financials readily available. If not, run! To achieve their goals, funds are necessary, so if they are not readily transparent they may not have their house in order, which will come with all sorts of challenges including meeting regulatory requirements.
Other questions that you may find helpful to decide whether to donate to a charity are listed in a previous weWednesday called: Please don’t volunteer, an opportunity awaits. Many of these questions will address the relevance of the charity and how it operates to promote opportunity for the beneficiaries, and plans for sustainability.
Most crucial donor inquiry question to decide if you should donate to a charity:
Ask your charity: “For every dollar I give, how many dollars’ worth of social value is being created?
Often donors focus on the costs of administration or fundraising. However, what do you really care about? Donors usually care about their social impact. Therefore, a more effective measure would be what is the cost to create the desired social impact?
This question will expose the Social Return on Investment (SROI), which is a ratio that measures the amount of value created per dollar donated. If you donate $100 to a charity and they generate $200 worth of social value, that is a good investment. If the charity can create $300 worth of value, that is even better.
To learn more about Social Return on Investment visit: https://www.charityintelligence.ca
SROI is not a simple measure, and even though Charity Intelligence Canada is actively collecting this information, it is still a work in progress.
To maximize your meaning, I encourage you to consider a long-term commitment to an organization, so you feel connected to it, can watch it grow, and assess its impact. Your continued support becomes part of its sustainability. When investing long-term your due diligence becomes even more critical. It is beyond dating an organization; it is marrying it. And most of us don’t ask for someone’s hand in marriage without getting to know them first.
Until next time, make your contributions count. #YouMeWeMovement #MyContributionCounts
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Suzanne F. Stevens, Conscious-Contributor Cultivator
Certified Speaking Professional, (CSP)
Social entrepreneur |Professional Speaker | Host | Author | Philanthropist
2017 National President: Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS)
Awards: TIAW World of Difference Recipient for women economic empowering
Accreditation: Suzanne is one of 65 Certified Speaking Professionals (CSP) in Canada and is in the exclusive 15% of speakers who have this designation internationally.