Questions to Ask Charities Before Donating

People need to gather information on a charity to establish enough trust to donate. Whether you’re a careful donor searching for a trustworthy organization or part of a charity that wants to answer donor questions well, here are questions to ask charities before donating.

What is Their Mission?

Ask charities about their mission. While it’s likely thoroughly explained on their website, this is an opportunity to learn about more than the mission itself. Hearing a representative talk through it shows what they actually prioritize in programs. If they can’t articulate it very well, then you may need to steer clear of partnering with them. Also, ask about their short-term and long-term goals. If they blend together, they may not have an effective vision to project into the future. Conflating short- and long-term goals is one sign charities cannot cast a practical vision for their future work. Further, their goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound (or SMART). Using these criteria helps you specifically diagnose how charities do or don’t measure up to your standards so you can ensure their the best fit.

How Have They Used Donations in the Past?

To check on goal measurability, ask how a charity has tracked progress over time. Foregrounding testimonials from people they’ve served without providing measures on the impact their work has had is one red flag. Data and narratives should work in tandem to build the case that their services are valuable. Accessing these measures also gives you a view of their efficiency. If charities reliably convert dollars to measurable projects, you know they’ll be a good partner.

What Will Our Relationship Look Like?

Another question to ask charities before donating: what will our charity-donor relationship look like over time? To get transparency, you may ask what they do with donor information such as addresses and billing information to ease your mind about its security. Additionally, because donors emotionally invest themselves in the charities’ work, they want to know how they can stay connected to the organization. This allows charities to outline how they strive to treat their connection with donors as an open and ongoing partnership rather than taking their money and running. Ongoing communication structures are also an easy indication their marketing department is effective at growing, engaging, and retaining their donor base

What Are Their Current Needs?

Knowing what a charity needs determines whether you would fit well with them. If you’re looking to donate tangible items but they only accept monetary donations, look elsewhere. This also applies if you’re looking to donate your property, but a charity doesn’t have the means or experience to receive that gift. Finding an organization that does accept whatever item (or service) you provide shows that you would be a good pairing. For example, if you find a homeless shelter that wants to give residents functional supplies, donating wholesale blank fanny packs is a good solution. But if you’re looking into giving to a domestic violence agency, buying basic hygiene supplies for victimized women would be appropriate. Ultimately, asking about their needs gives you a sense of their current obstacles. When you partner with them, you can then target your efforts specifically towards their stated goal.

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