I haven't written much (if anything) about giving on this blog to date, but that's going to change over the next few months. I'm a firm believer in the practice and its benefits. But for now, I wanted to share a series I found on Five Smart Ways to Give. It details some very practical issues you need to consider when you make charitable donations including (with some comments from me):
1. Do your due diligence. I only give to organizations that I'm familiar with. I know what they do and how they spend their money.
2. Watch the fundraising cost. I try to give to organizations that only have fundraising costs less than 20% of total expenses. Why give to an organization that spends a big chunk just asking you to give more?
3. Ask for key documents from the charity. This is a no-brainer. If the charity can't provide audited financial statements and receipts for donations, don't deal with them.
4. Don't respond solely to phone solicitation. I NEVER respond by phone. If called, I ask them to mail me something, then I review it when I have time and can do a bit more research.
5. Make sure you know the difference between a reputable charity and one that sounds like a reputable charity but isn't. This is pretty straightforward.
Giving is a great honor and privilege and has many financial benefits, but you must do it wisely. Follow these principles and you'll be sure of directing your funds into charities that will make good use of them.