Giving Wisely


Ten Things to Consider When Deciding Where to Donate

Chances are you’ve had someone reach out and pull you up when you were down at some point in your life. That hand up helped set you on a course that led you to the successful, happy life you lead today.  Now you want to return the favor and donate to a non-profit, but you’re not sure how to choose one.

Here are ten things you should consider when choosing a non-profit to receive your donations.

Clearly Define Your Values

What do you stand for? What really tugs at your heartstrings? Do you cry every time that ASPCA commercial comes on, or are you more into causes that impact people?

It’s really important that you understand your values and how they’ve formed the change you want to see in the world. Write down those values in list form. You’ll use them later to determine whether a particular non-profit aligns.

Find Charities That Align

A great place to start is an online search. Just as an example, let’s say you’re looking to donate to a non-profit that focuses on the environment. Try typing in a search query using keywords like “green non-profits saving the environment.”

You’ll see results that look something like this:


As you can see, there’s a good deal of content available to help guide your decision, and this is only the top half of the first page of search results. Click through the different content available and see what you can find.

Compare Options

The search query you just conducted probably yielded more results than you know what to do with. Somehow, however, you’re able to narrow your choices down to a few solid options.

Now it’s time to compare those options to see which one is the best fit for you. Jot down another list with things that are critical to your decision making process. Then compare each option against one another to determine which meets or exceeds your criteria the most.

Research Legitimacy

Congratulations, you’ve narrowed down your choice to just one option. Don’t get too excited just yet. There are a few more steps to go.

This is perhaps the most important one. Every year, well meaning people are duped out of millions of dollars by fake or shady charities. For this reason, it’s extremely important that you validate the legitimacy of the non-profit you’re considering.

Never give money through a link you clicked on in an email. By all means, click on those links, but before you donate, search for the website yourself and navigate there on your own to ensure that you’re on the real version of the site and not some scammer’s forgery.

Consume all the content on the website that you can. Any legitimate non-profit should have a plethora of information about its cause, organization and processes readily available.

But don’t stop there. Look at public records and feel free to contact your local government offices to obtain information about a non-profit’s legitimacy.

Show Me The Money

Once you’ve determined that the non-profit is legit, you’ll want to dig deeper and find out where the money goes.

On the surface, all non-profits will represent that they are doing the most good, but that’s not always the case. Do some sleuthing and find financial information that shows where the money actually goes. You’d be surprised how some of the less scrupulous non-profits allocate their funds. Not always in the way you’d like them to.

Goals and Aspirations

In addition to finding out more about the plans for allocation of donations, look seriously into the non-profit’s plans for the future.

Is this something sustainable, or does it seem more fly-by-night without much of a future. You want to make sure you’re giving to a non-profit that is capable of making a difference for many years to come.

Clearly Defined Mission

That leads into the non-profit’s mission. You can learn a lot about the goals and aspirations of the non-profit by reading up on its mission.

Things that should be included here are how the non-profit plans to impact the world, what region or area they plan to impact, why they do what they do and what the future of the organization looks like.

Who’s at the Top

You can gain a good deal of insight into the operations of a non-profit, as well its prospects for the future by finding out more about the person running the organization.

If you’re met with articles about bad business dealings and other shady business when you Google the name of the CEO of a non-profit, you might want to reconsider. If they’ve made bad decisions elsewhere, it’s likely that will carry over and your money is in danger of being wasted.

Test Drive

Immersing yourself in the culture and inner workings of a non-profit is great way to make your decision easy.

By volunteering, you’ll be able to be a part of the donation dollars at work. This allows you to see first hand how your dollars are spent and make a more informed decision about whether it’s in line with what you want.

Realistic Donation

You’ve done your homework, and now you’re ready to give. Great!

At this point, it’s important to evaluate your own financial situation to determine what you can afford to give. Make sure it’s an amount you can sustain without being negatively impacted yourself.

Whatever you can give is wonderful. There’s typically no required amount, and most non-profits will be equally as thankful for a five-dollar donation as they will for a thousand dollar donation.

Taking these things into consideration will ensure that your experience giving to a non-profit is just as rewarding for you as it is for those helped by your donations.



Anthony Gaenzle

Anthony is the owner of AG Integrated Marketing Strategists. In addition to working with clients in a variety of industries, Anthony has helped a number of small non-profits to enhance visibility online through better digital marketing by offering insights and advice. You can connect with Anthony via Twitter or through LinkedIn to learn more.