If you’re like many people, you are going to make a charitable contribution between December 25 and 31.
Anecdotally, I also see a trend among small businesses that ask me where they should make their holiday contributions in lieu of doing “Secret Santas,” the traditional exchange of small gifts among staff.
Certainly, you want to give to causes that are personally meaningful. But I find that most people have a variety of interests and causes that they care about. Usually people are most concerned to give to organizations where they trust that the funds will be used well. Here are some great ways to choose where you make your holiday contributions.
- you have personally volunteered, so that you have directly seen the work that the organization does, and you are developing a relationship that can extend further. Ask the program director or development director what program needs support, and how your contribution can be helpful.
- your friends volunteer. Ask friends about the organizations where they are involved, why the work is meaningful to them, and how your contribution might be used.
- your friends ask you to contribute because they are involved. Ask how the contribution will be used, and how it will be helpful.
- you pass by a nonprofit in your own community and see the work that the organization does. Stop by and see if you can make an appointment with a staff person to learn about their work, and how your contribution might be helpful.
- you read about an organization and do some due diligence, reading about the people who are involved on the board and staff and among the donors, checking on the comments of various oversight organizations and what they have to say (GiveWell and Charity Navigator, for example), and what the nonprofit’s financial information looks like on Guidestar. Without a personal connection, you are more removed from the organization, but there is a good deal of information online.
Make your holiday giving an opportunity to learn about some wonderful organizations, and begin or continue your involvement with a nonprofit that will enrich your life in 2010 and beyond.