One 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.
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?