If you’re like me, you probably donate to many of the same nonprofits each year. But how do you evaluate whether to continue supporting a particular charity, and when to give to a new organization? Here’s some of my criteria:
- Which causes do you feel most passion for? For me, I believe strongly in promoting tolerance and fighting racism, so I support organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. I also like to help nonprofits that feed the hungry like Mazon and who provide services for seniors like Dorot.
- Does an organization take the time to report back on how your donations have been used? Charity Water does this especially well with its video reports.
- Are your communication preferences respected – and are you asked by what channel and how often you would prefer to be contacted? I make almost all of my contributions online, yet continue to receive frequent direct mails which I often ignore.
- Does the organization keep its website current, as well as its social media channels to highlight its achievements?
- Is the only time that you receive solicitations when the organization wants money, especially during the year-end fundraising season? Smart nonprofits keep in touch year-round and don’t always include an ask.
- Does nonprofit have complete data on Guidestar and a favorable report by the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance?
- Does the organization have clear, consistent messaging in its online and offline communications?
- Do you get asked for another donation shortly after you’ve sent your last contribution (when you usually give only once a year)?
- Is your contact information current (and if not, is it easy for you to correct it?)
- Does organization assume that you want to make a large donation even though most of your gifts have been in much smaller amounts?
What other tips would you ask for evaluating whether to continue supporting a charity – or to give to a new organization?
For an example of a wonderful nonprofit I’ve recently become familiar with through their consistently upbeat and informative communications, visit Mitzvah Circle.Foundation, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. They ‘support individuals and families through difficult times, collect and provide essential supplies to people living in poverty, and assist people who can’t find help elsewhere.’