Choosing the best charities for your contributions
When Jackie Tesh looked at the mound of charities’ appeal letters she had already received this year, she threw up her hands in exasperation and said, “There are too many to choose from. I’m just not going to give to anyone this year!”
Not the kind of response nonprofits want to hear from their loyal supporters! Year-end appeal letters are a major source of support for most charities. For some, they receive 40 percent to 50 percent of their annual budgets between October 1 and December 31. And these donations are tax-deductible for you!
Choosing which charities are worth your donations may require a little research on your part.
First and foremost, ask yourself: What nonprofit does work that is closest to my heart? Whether it is feeding the poor, providing research dollars to cure a disease, or helping an area devastated by a natural disaster, your dollars should go to a worthy cause that means something to you personally. But that doesn’t mean sending money to the same charity year after year. It still makes sense to look at others that are providing these services.
One way to do this is by going online and researching a charity’s rating. These sites provide detailed reviews of where a nonprofit receives its funding and how it spends it:
You can also learn more about a nonprofit by requesting a copy of its annual report. Many nonprofits also include this report on their websites. The report should include its income and expenses, along with information about its programs and who it has helped.
If you, like Jackie, are feeling overwhelmed by the appeal letters you’ve received, don’t give up. By doing a little research, you can be assured your donation will go to a charity that will be a good steward of your money, and you will be helping a cause that you truly believe in.