When you get the urge to give, the possibilities are endless. You can fund campaigns to prevent deforestation. You can combat health crises by supporting an organization’s team of doctors. You can even supply hospitalized kiddos with games galore to give them a fun outlet during treatment.
While these all are worthy causes, it’s hard to pick just one or two to commit to. To help you thoughtfully narrow down your options, here are some tips for choosing a charity to donate to.
Ask: Is This a Big Priority for Me?
While deforestation, health crises, and helping kids in the hospital are all important, you can’t take on each problem with identical fervor. You have limited energy and resources, so prepare to prioritize.
Take stock of what really presses on your heart right now—maybe health crises stick out as a salient issue you want to jump into—and decide on a class of charity to support. Approaching your giving in this way saves you time and maintains your focus on the causes that would give you the most satisfaction addressing. In the end, giving to a charity with a cause you connect to ensures that you’ll remain a consistent and enthusiastic supporter.
Use Charity-Vetting Tools
Once you determine a class of charity to pick from, you’ll want to specifically investigate the merits and faults of each option. You don’t have to do this all manually, though—groups like Charity Navigator and GuideStar are useful tools at your disposal.
Charity Navigator specifically rates nonprofits according to their fiscal accountability and transparency and provides figures, which provides potential donors with a glimpse into a nonprofit’s operations. GuideStar, while not an evaluative tool per se, also gives a window into charities’ programs, structures, and financial situations. One helpful thing to look for when using either tool is an organization’s formal tax status. If they are a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, they are more likely to be reputable.
Don’t Instinctively Shy Away From High Overhead
One final tip for choosing a charity to donate to—don’t get scared away by higher overhead than you’d like. Overhead is the amount of money a charity spends on fundraising and administrative costs. Over time, as Kate Torgovnick May points out, donors erroneously keyed in on overhead costs relative to money that goes to the people they’re serving.
The idea that low overhead is good and high overhead is bad comes from good intentions but hampers many charities with expansive visions. Some honest organizations need more overhead to develop solid, lasting programs, while other organizations that are not looking to expand can get by with a skeleton crew.
Once you pick a charity, consider donating through Backpacks USA. We supply wholesale bags and totes, bulk hygiene kits, and many more products that are perfect for donation.