3 Things to Consider before You Donate to Charity
Christmas is a time of giving: that's something we try to drill into our children's heads so that we can trim down their Christmas list just a little bit more. And because it is the season of giving, people are more likely to step outside of their family circles and give to charity or other worthy causes. In fact, in 2014, 31% of all donations were given in December, according to Network for Good.
It's such a great thing that so many people are in the giving mood. Granted, we should always be in the giving mood, but if it takes a worldwide holiday to make us more charitable, so be it. (We can work on that later.)
But this feeling of charity can also be a bad thing.
No, giving is not bad, but giving to the wrong place can spell trouble for you. Many organizations will pose as a charity, essentially beg for your money, and then throw the money into their own bank accounts — they will use the “Spirit of Christmas” as a weapon against you.
In 2014, as was reported by Forbes, four organizations worked together and posed as cancer charities that “were helping cancer patients with pain medication, transportation to chemotherapy visits, and hospice care.” The end result? A bloated bank account worth $181,390,000.
So with the help of Thomas Tighe, president and CEO of Direct Relief, a charity focused on providing health services to Americans who can't afford it, and his experience with charity work, here are 3 things to consider when you're donating to charity.
Pick a cause that you actually like
While the Red Cross is always a good choice when deciding where to put your donation dollars, but if you feel like you need to help out the Syrian refugee families that have no homes, no food, and no water, donating to the American Refugee Committee is the way to go about doing that. In all honesty, the important thing is that you're helping out with what you can.
Thomas Tighe suggests that you pick a cause that you care about. By finding something that you truly care about, you'll be able to sew the seeds of service in your own life, and volunteering and donating both your time and money will be easier, more enjoyable, and more beneficial for you and for the people who you are serving.
Do a little investigative research
Just because people are claiming to use your donations for a good cause does not make them credible. I can still remember a time when I was a freshman in college (a Christian college, mind you) and I got duped by burglars in disguise. The few guys were going from door to door, asking for extra coins as a donation to a local shelter.
So, out of the goodness of my heart, I dumped my entire SoBe bottle full of change into their bag, quarters and all. I felt so good inside as I walked back to my desk, but it was the slamming of the door that awoke to a sense of my awful situation. I had just given up all of my laundry money to guys that had the gall to steal from me right in front of my face. Minutes later, the apartment manager came by everyone's doors to make us aware of the thieves.
This can happen with big-time charities as well. Make sure that the charity you're giving to is legit. Tighe gives a couple options for places to check out the legitimacy of the charity you picked out. You can read about them at the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or you can go to CharityNavigator.org and check the ratings they have for just about every charity you could think of. From there, you can decide if you want to donate your hard-earned cash to that particular organization.
Think twice, donate later
With all of the charities and options that you have to donate to, you really need to think about where your money is going. As I said before, it's never wrong to give. Never. But you also want to make sure that the warm and fuzzy feeling that you get when you donate is going to contribute to the warm and fuzzy feeling of someone in need — someone who will be reaping the benefits of your generosity.
Once you've picked a charity and have done your research, you should be all clear to make your donation.
You can see some of our team members' favorite charities that EverydayFamily supports here: EF CARESRead More