7 Ways to Know You're Giving to the Right Ministry This Christmas
- Sarah Landrum punchedclocks.com
- 2016 13 Dec
The holidays are wonderful to remind you of the spirit of giving and goodwill unto all. Sometimes, the stress of gift-giving and shopping for the holidays makes the whole season feel materialistic. Charitable giving provides a warm place in the heart and a connection to God and His generous spirit, knowing you’re helping another soul with a kind donation of your time or money.
However, when it comes to charitable giving, you may be wondering where the money really goes. Make sure you’re giving to the right ministry or organization:
1. The Charity Makes an Impact
Be certain each dollar has the most impact possible. Do you believe in this organization? Does its mission align with a cause close to your heart? Are reports about how money is allocated shared with the public? Are improvements being made in the community or globally? Ask for statistics.
Read the charity’s blog closely, to see if there’s news or personal accounts from volunteers about how donations are furthering the organization’s mission. Closely read news articles. Visit the site of the organization in person, if possible, to see the impact in action.
Will your donation amount be able to adequately help the charity meet goals, or one of its goals? Align your donation with the organization your funds will have the most impact for, and choose a cause that you personally value.
2. The Program is Sustainable
Think of your donation as an investment. To ensure a sound investment, the program must be sustainable. Analyze the cost of the program for the upcoming year. What will it take to execute this initiative and maintain it beyond a year? Will fundraising bring in enough?
Check out the nonprofit’s 990 form, to review what’s coming in versus what’s going out. Administrative costs shouldn’t exceed 20 percent. The program should at least be breaking even.
3. Give New Nonprofits a Chance
When donating to newer nonprofits, look to the leadership to judge the prospective quality and results of initiatives. The organization should have a proven CEO and strong board to steer the ship. The vision of the nonprofit should match available resources.
Always do your research first! Scammers may use the same methods as legitimate charities to raise funds. Look for the warning signs that the program is a scam to avoid losing money:
SEE ALSO: 3 Qualities of Grace-Filled Giving
- Doesn’t give out requested information about identity, costs, mission or how the donation will be utilized
- Can’t provide evidence that a donation is tax deductible
- Name too closely resembles an established charity
- Thanks you for making a pledge or contribution you don’t recall making
- Pressures you to make an immediate contribution, without giving you time for consideration or further research
Though newer nonprofits come with added risk, they come with added benefit to the community when they are successful. It’s as important to support newer organizations as it is to support established ones.
4. Give Locally
Local charities are visible in the community, and your neighbors and fellow churchgoers will likely be familiar with the good work such programs are doing. When you give locally, you’re more likely to see the impact your dollar has on your chosen cause in action. Look around you and see if there are any longstanding, grassroots initiatives in your area that need assistance.
5. Online Transactions Must Be Secure
These days, many organizations conduct a great deal of their business online. What does that mean for your donations? Always make payments through sites that you trust.
Whenever you make an online contribution, look for reassurances that your transaction will be secure. Many sites will use PayPal or AlertPay, with established reputations that allow you to make payments through them directly and not your bank account.
However, other tools are helpful to make sure your transactions are secure. The Nonprofit Search API will allow you to search and access information about any nonprofit recognized by the United States government. The associated nonprofit ID may be used with its donation API to make a secure online contribution.
6. Pay by Credit Card or Check
Some people prefer reading a book you can hold instead of reading a book online. The same goes for making payments. When giving in person or by mail, only pay by credit card or check. These are more secure, traceable and may be canceled in the case of a scam.
Making a contribution this way also helps the organization make more money by accepting a credit card or check payment, as card vendors may handle lower-value transactions while third-party online payment services charges more transaction fees.
7. Concentrate on One Charity
It may tempting to give to more than one charity, to give everyone a piece of the pie. However, you could be spreading your donations too thin. The more thinly you spread your contributions, the more transaction and administrative fees eat up the money you give. Let your dollars work harder for you and the charity by concentrating on giving to one charity.
Donating to great causes are a wonderful way to celebrate the goodwill of the season and the grace of God. Make smart charitable contributions to an organization with sustainable goals and a mission you believe in.
Do the research ahead of time to make the most out of your contribution to the right ministry or cause, and stretch your dollar by paying by credit card or check, whenever possible. Donate your time by volunteering, and see your giving help others in multiple ways. There’s no great feeling than making a difference in the lives of others, and sharing the grace of God.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer on a mission to change the world and help people live happier, more enriched lives. She is also the founder of the career and happiness site Punched Clocks.
Image courtesy: Pexels.com
Publication date: December 13, 2016