3 Steps to Finding Your Perfect (Charity) Match

Christmas decorations line the shelves of stores nationwide and carols aren’t far behind. With each day leading closer to the holiday season, everyone is (somewhat) feeling the giving spirit. But how does one chose to whom to give? What places one charity organization above another? Here are three steps to finding your perfect charity match.

1. Know Yourself

With any great relationship, compatibility is essential. Not an early riser? Then Saturday morning marathons are not for you. Races like 5Ks are common around this time of year and each program raises funds for an important cause. But if you are not ready to make the 6:00 am commitment, feel free to find another way to give. Many participants match funds. For each mile completed, a donor promises a certain amount to give. If the neighbor’s kid is expecting $1 per mile and runs 5 miles, you have given $5 to a good cause (but feel free to give more).

2. Find Common Interests

Stick to things in which you are interested. Love to shop? Many stores and online retailers offer free donation programs. Even if you only have the funds for the basic necessities, there are still ways to give. Check out the Borgen Project’s Amazon portal. Shop as you normally do and up to 4 percent of your purchase goes toward ending global poverty without costing you a single penny!

It’s important to find an organization that shares your interests. Otherwise, you are more likely to stop participating. If you have a life-long love of any activity, look for programs that incorporate it into their cause. For example, basketball lovers may be interested in Ball For All, a program sponsored by Peace Corps, that uses sports teams to encourage leadership among female youth in Africa.

3. Communicate

Feel free to ask questions to determine if a potential organization shares your values. Honesty and loyalty are highly valued in today’s society. Many non-profits are aware of this and strive to maintain a level of transparency. Education advocates may be interested in organizations that deliver books to poverty-ridden areas like the World Literacy Foundation which sponsors programs that encourage literacy through digital reading and tutoring in developing countries.

Want to find out where your money is going? Ask. Many organizations provide financial statements or summaries for their donors on their websites. Also, feel free to ask about program follow up. It has become common for organizations to have a Newsletter or Press Release section on their websites. So feel free to research programs and track their accomplishments.

Most importantly, remember that choosing a charity is a lot like choosing a partner. Know the qualities for which you are looking in a charity and don’t be afraid to question a potential organization. As a donor, you owe it to yourself to know all the facts.

– Jasmine D. Smith

Sources: The Borgen Project, Ball for All, My Perfect Match, World Literacy Foundation
Photo: Sadlier