We all want to maximize the effect our charitable giving has on the organizations we choose and it is easy for us to believe every dollar we donate is used to do the “MOST” good. Unfortunately, if you are not careful, 30% or more of your donations can disappear before any true benefit is even realized. Here are three tips to help make sure your dollars make the kind of impact you have always imagined they do.
Nothing “GREAT” has ever been accomplished without tremendous focus. The same thing should be true about your charitable donations. If you are spreading your annual giving among dozens of organizations, you could be subsidizing those organizations more than the people they are actually trying to help. Many of us forget that the charities we donate to have overhead and operating costs just like any other business. Fixed costs just for processing your donation can run as high as $15 per transaction. If you have been donating $50 to 20 different charities, 30% of your money is not making it to the people who really need it.
According to CNNMONEY.COM, one way to help narrow your focus is to use the 50/20/30 rule: Half your giving should be focused on one charity- the one you will spend the most time thinking about. Then set aside 20% for small impulse gifts and the final 30% for institutions you support on a regular basis, like your alma mater or your church.
Do Some Research.
Conventional wisdom has been to look up your chosen organization’s financial statements and stick with ones that limit their operating costs to 20% or less of their annual budget (anything greater than 25% should raise some red flags). This is good advice. However, in today’s world, it has become easier and easier to find information on the charitable organizations you care about. Would not it be nice to know which organizations are doing the best work to support their mission? Here are two sites that can help you do just that!
MyPhilanthropedia.com pulls together experts to recommend and evaluate charities in 31 different causes. GreatNonprofits.org offers crowd-sourced reviews of the work charities are doing, as told by volunteers, donors, and beneficiaries- sort of like Yelp for the nonprofit world!
Pay The Old-Fashioned Way.
In the last decade, our culture has embraced the use of debit and credit cards. It is not a bad thing. They are convenient and have made our lives much easier. You can whip out a card and pay for almost anything, anywhere, at any time. However, what many people seem to forget is that the credit card processing companies can take as much as 5% of these transactions from the organizations you are doing business with. This is also true for charitable organizations. So when you can, write a check or issue one through your bank’s online bill-pay system.
A charity you love phones to ask for money? It is best to say no. The telemarketing firm will get a cut of what you donate. The exception: Telethons that are run by universities or public broadcasters typically do not eat into the funds raised, but it is still best to send a check directly to the organization.
Give, Give, Give!!! Just be sure that you focus, do some research, and pay the old-fashioned way.
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