How to choose the perfect charity and donate effectively

Here’s how to find a charity that you will love and feel confident about.

1) Find a cause that you love and feel passionate about to donate to.

There are millions of charities out there and the sector continues to grow. While I’m not convinced that the sector’s volume and growth is a good thing, it does mean that there is guaranteed to be a charity for every interest that you have, and every interest that you can possibly have in the future. There must be something about animals, kids, the disabled, seniors, veterans, the environment, the arts, music, human rights, international development, local development, technology, medicine and sports that you feel strongly about and think can be improved. Once you’ve pinpointed what causes you are interested in, Google for charities working in the area or check out these sites if you are in Canada Charity Village, Canada Revenue Agency. If you are in Calgary feel free to msg me.

2) Find the right charity

After you have found some charities that match your interests, research them. Find out if they target areas of the cause that you are interested in and feel strongly about and that they align with your ethical and religious beliefs. This information should be easy enough to find on the organization’s website.

3) Find out if the organization is effective.

After you find a charity or a couple of charities that do something that you care deeply about, see if they are working towards the cause effectively. While information about an organization’s administrative costs and the pay of their top executives is readily available, Don’t bother looking it up. It’s a horrible barometer of how effective a charity is and while I’ll explain it further in another post, if this isn’t something that you would use to measure or predict the success of a company, why would you use it to measure the success of a charity? What you should be looking at is what the charity is currently doing, how the charity measures success, what it’s done in the past, how it addresses and adapts from failures, what it’s future plans are and how it collaborates with other nonprofits, businesses and government in the sector. Sadly, this information may not be that easy to find. It’s likely not available on an organizations website so your best bet would be to email or phone and ask. In all honesty if the charity is not organized or doesn’t care enough to get back to you I wouldn’t donate there.

4) Find Out How You Can Best Help the Charity

If everything checks out with the charity, find out how you can best help. It may not necessarily be monetary and it may not be now. While no organization would ever refuse a monetary donation, oftentimes organizations can benefit hugely from donations of time, space, expertise, technology, publicity, partnerships and objects. To find out I would ask the organization questions like what is impeding their progress or success the most, what would make it easier to focus and spend more time on their programs and initiatives and what do they feel like they waste their time doing the most.

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