Charity Navigator, a well-known and well-thought of source of charitable-giving analysis, has developed a list of questions that you as a donor should ask before you begin the act of supporting a charity. We present an edited version of the check list below. If you are thinking about making a “serious” donation, we think your time would be well spent reviewing this information. Here are their recommended questions:
- Can your charity clearly communicate who they are and what they do?
If a charity struggles in articulating its mission and its programs, it will probably struggle in delivering those programs. Organizations that can explain who they are and what they’re trying to accomplish have a singularity of purpose and a commitment to focused institutional change. If a charity can’t explain who it is and what it does, and why it is needed, find one that can.
- Can your charity define their short-term and long-term goals?
Organizations without quantifiable goals have no way to measure success. If they have no way to know if they are successful, how can you be sure they are working toward something?
- Can your charity tell you the progress it has made (or is making) toward its goal?
Good intentions are no longer sufficient to warrant your charitable support. Ask your organization what it has done to make the issue it confronts better. What are its results? Why should you support an environmental clean-up organization if it can’t show you that it is cleaning up the environment?
- Do your charity’s programs make sense to you?
If you support the mission of an organization, ask yourself if its programs also make sense. If an organization’s goal is to promote kindness toward animals, does it pursue its goal in a way that makes sense to you, or does it merely inflame the issue? If you know you want to support the outcome the charity aims to deliver, ask yourself if its method of arriving at that outcome makes sense to you.
- Can you trust your charity?
Our research has shown that the overwhelming majority of charities in this country are not only responsible and honest, but well-managed. So we give with confidence. You should feel the same way before you give. Don’t support a charity until you feel comfortable with it. Do whatever it takes to put your mind at ease. Good charities will encourage this. A happy and trusting donor is a willing and supportive donor.
- Are you willing to make a long-term commitment to your organization?
We like to think of giving to charity as a long-term commitment, more akin to marriage than dating. Ask yourself if your charity is the type of organization to which you’re willing to make a long-term commitment.
As 2010 draws to a close many are seeking to make their last charitable donation of the year. Remember that in order to count on your 2010 tax return all donations must be made before the new year.
About Charity Navigator: founded in 2001, has become the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. They have created a great checklist you can use to decide if you really want to support a certain charitable organization. Last year alone, more than four million donors used the site. Charity Navigator is a two-time Forbes award winner for “Best of the Web,” it was selected by Reader’s Digest as one of the “100 Best Things about America,” and was chosen by PC World as “One of America’s Top Websites.
For more information go to http://www.charitynavigator.org/