How to Choose a Charitable Cause for Your Money

Teacher helping mature students in libraryOne of the best ways to boost your finances, and help others at the same time, is to make charitable donations. When you make it a priority to donate to charity, you are in better control of your finances, and you help make the world a better place. Choosing a charitable cause isn’t always easy, though. Most of us want to know that our money is going to a good cause, and that we are truly helping the people we want to help. As a result, giving to charity often becomes a matter of choosing where you think your money will do the most good.

Deciding on a Cause

Your first step is to decide on a cause. What cause do you think is important? This requires that you look inside yourself and determine your values and priorities. While it would be nice if you could give your money to every charity that asks for help, the reality is that you probably have limited means. You can’t just give money to everyone. So you have to base your charitable giving on what you think is the best possible use for your money.

I like to look at what I think is likely a good cause that will benefit a large number of people, as well as have positive ripple effects. Personally, I think focusing on hunger is a good idea. I like to give to organizations that do an effective job of providing food to those who need it, particularly children. For me, children are a focus, and I also value education and providing safe environments for them. Personally, I think investing in children is an investment in our society as a whole for the future, and I like programs that give children a chance, as well as provide necessary nutrition.

But these initiatives aren’t priorities for everyone. Many people like to focus on the environment, or animal welfare. These are great causes, and I wish that I could give money to them, as well as to some of the other causes I support. But it’s just not feasible. So I stick with my personal priorities. You can do something similar. Decide what you think is most important, and then make it a point to support those causes.

Choosing a Charity

Once you know what cause you want to support, it’s time to find a charity. A few years ago, I was horrified to discover that one of the charities that I had been giving money to only spend about 30 cents out of every dollar donated helping its stated cause. Administrative fees, executive salaries, and fundraising efforts got the lion’s share of the money. I stopped donating to that charity and began looking for other places to give.

Before you give, consider looking at a site like Charity Intelligence Canada or CharityNavigator.org to figure out which charities are really using the money to help the cause. After doing a little research, I was able to find a charity where 90 cents of every dollar collected goes toward the cause. In many cases, the recommendation is to give to charities in which at least 80 cents of each dollar goes toward achieving the stated goals of the charity. Every charity is going to have overhead; you just need to make sure that the charity is doing what it can to reduce overhead and actually help its stated beneficiaries.

Another thing I do is look locally. You might be surprised at the difference you can make in the community with local charities. Another cool thing about focusing on local charities is the fact that you can actually go in and help. You can donate your time as well as your money. Additionally, you even have the potential to help ensure the money is used for the cause, since you might even be able to participate on the board. There are a lot of good reasons to look to a local charity, and I’ve really enjoyed supporting local charities in my own area.

Bottom Line

It’s up to you to decide how you want to give. But you will derive the most satisfaction from your charitable giving when you take the time to choose a charity that aligns with your values, and then you donate to a charity that will get the most bang for your buck.

How do you choose a charity?

Posted in Give Back permalink

About Miranda (Staff Writer)

Miranda is a freelance writer and professional blogger specializing in business, personal finance, and investing. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites, and her work has been mentioned in, and linked to from, several online and offline publications. Miranda also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

Comments

How to Choose a Charitable Cause for Your Money — 7 Comments

  1. I’m a fan of supporting smaller charities where my donation will make more of a difference. While I love larger non-profits too, I know that the amount I’m able to give won’t have much of an impact for them. I agree with you on choosing local, direct service organizations that are desperate for funds. Thanks for sharing this–it’s a great time of year to make decisions about charitable giving!

  2. These are really great points. I know that I find it more difficult to give to charities where the executives are making $500,000 salaries and a very small percentage of every dollar goes to the intended recipients. And I really don’t like it when you are solicited for donations at the cash register. I read that there are commissions paid to management to meet certain goals. That’s not where I want any part of my money to go.

    • So true! It’s too bad that many people use these causes as ways to line their own pockets. That’s why I like reading up on charities. I want my money to actually go to people who need it!

  3. I give back to my village for scholarships and education projects that I run myself. So 100% of funds are going to the project. I have had a few reader donations so make it a point to be transparent with the spending, and where the money goes to.

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