As the holidays quickly approach, many of us (and our children) are creating holiday wish lists. I am sure many of you take time out of your busy schedules to factor in a charitable act or gift during the holidays. Perhaps you select a family in need for whom to buy presents or maybe you donate extra at the cash register; there is no shortage of easy ways that you can give back during this time of giving.
One practice my family embraces is giving to charities in the name of other people in our family. It all started several years ago when I couldn’t think of a thing to give my dad, brothers, grandparents and other family members. They had everything they needed and I’m not just one to go out on a limb and buy something because I think they’ll like it. I decided why not donate in their names to someone who needs it?
Then came the daunting task of trying to figure out just what charity I should donate to. There are so many!!! And I knew all about how some charities weren’t using their funds exactly how they were supposed to and that much of the money donated to some charities goes to overhead and not to the promised need the charity was designed for initially.
I’m not naive enough to think that charities run themselves, but I do think there is some gross overspending happening at some of the larger charities – not to mention how they use some of the money for lobbying and supporting political agendas. That’s not what I want my charity money going to!
So what’s a girl to do?!? Charity Navigator.
Founded in 2001, Charity Navigator has become the nation’s largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. In our quest to help donors, our team of professional analysts has examined tens of thousands of non-profit financial documents. We’ve used this knowledge to develop an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess over 5,000 of America’s best-known and some lesser known, but worthy, charities.
It quite simply ranks every type of charity imaginable and gives you background details about the charity’s financial health and transparency (i.e., if they are capable of doing what they say they are doing and if they are doing it). Want to check out the Arbor Day Foundation? Easy. What about the best way to help victims of Hurricane Sandy? Check. There are so many bases covered on Charity Navigator, it’s a no-brainer to check out your charity of choice or find a new one before donating.
Here are some of the tips they give for savvy donors:
- Hang up the phone/eliminate the middleman!
- Confirm 501(c) (3) status
- Concentrate your giving to a single charity
- Be careful of sound-alike names
- Be proactive in your giving (don’t have a knee-jerk reaction to someone asking you to give on the spot)
Check out the entire post here and understand how you can be a better donor any time of year.
It’s important to “do unto others” and it’s even more important that we show our children how to do that too. If charitable giving is in your holiday plans, be sure to do your research and give to a charity that really is doing what you want it to do.
Green Parenting is published on Fridays.
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